Restoring Wood Furniture Without Stripping!

Jenni Ingram
by Jenni Ingram
6 Materials
1 Day
So you have a set of chairs that are the right size, are comfortable, and fit your space well, BUT they are the WRONG color... What's a girl to do??

Tone them!

What?! Yep, it's called wood toning - it's not re-staining. No stripping, sanding to raw wood, or using smelly oil based products at all!
Step 1. Scuff sand the existing finish. I used 220 grit sandpaper. Use circular motions to scratch up the existing finish to give the new finish something to "stick" to. 
Step 2. Clean the piece with a 50/50 mix of denatured alcohol and water. Never use this cleaner on a finished piece, it will break down the finish - which is what we want it to do here. This will also clean it without leaving any residue. Mix this in a spray bottle, spray it down and clean it off with paper towels. 
Step 3. Here's a new trick that works so well! Make a mixture of wood stain (in any color) with about 10% Topcoat. This makes a "glaze." It allows you to re-color the wood without a streaky finish. 
Here's the difference.
To achieve the color I wanted, it took two coats of my "glaze" applied with a nice brush (I use Purdy brushes).
Step 5. When they were dry, I started top coating. These chairs took 3 coats of Top Coat in satin finish. I applied it with a clean brush, and just did one coat at a time. DO NOT sand between the coats. 
Chairs can be a lot of work and applying 5 coats of product to each chair was time consuming. However I'd do that any day over stripping and sanding the existing finish!! 

For even more details on this project click the link below


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Jenni Ingram
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Frequently asked questions
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3 of 29 questions
  • Anna Anna on Jul 24, 2019

    Would this work on cabinets?

  • Carmen Carmen on Jul 26, 2019

    I live in Romania and I can't find anywhere the General finishes brand... I did find Minwax products. Do you think I could replace Gf with Minwax? I'm thinking a mixture of Minwax Wood Finish and Minwax Helmsman Spar Urethane. Thank you in advance.

  • Carol Carol on Jul 24, 2020

    Under step 3 "New Trick" Did you use the General Finishes stain to make the mixture?

    Also how is this holding up ? I really want to try this method on my kitchen cabinets!

    Nice job!

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2 of 32 comments
  • Anastasia Anastasia on Jul 24, 2019

    So clever technique. Have a piece of furniture I have in mind to use this on. Thank you for sharing!

  • Cat Cat on Jul 24, 2019

    This got my attention for many projects I been hesitant to start THANKS for the idea/tip