Aug 28, 2012

Furniture makeover - Sanding and Preparations


Step 1: First, have a good look of the item you are planning to work on - review the damages, general condition, if there is any sign of wood worms (do you see little holes in the wood somewhere), current layers of paint. Review it from all angles.  Think over is it necessary to dissemble the piece, and what parts (eg. cabinet doors, legs, drawers, shelfs) and are you going to assemble these parts again or not. 

Step 2: Before dissembling,  take photos, make notes - I usually take photos, to remind me on the 'before' look and to help me when assembling - it is amazing how  easy is to be confused with things looking very simple at the first place. It is also useful to mark pieces, eg. drawers, to be put on the same place as before, as the size could little, but significantly, vary.

Step 3: Check also locks, keys, handles, rosettes - are they functioning, do you need them or want to replace them. Eg. it is easier to replace  lock before you start painting.

Step 4: If you noticed wood worms presence, you need to treat the piece - I usually use some of the chemical insecticides - follow the supplier's  instructions.

Step 5: One of the first things to do is to clean the piece with soap water to get rid of the stains, fat, dirt ... Then, think about old paint layers - do you need just to make some sanding or completely remove them. It depends also on your idea how to refurbish this piece of furniture. But, whatever you decide, some sanding is difficult to avoid.

Step 6: Sanding, sanding, sanding; and repairing small damages using filler.


Sanding is a very necessary step in the furniture makeover process. I have to admit, I hate it. But it is crucial for the final result. 

If you've just begun or planned to work on a small piece, you can sand by hand. To make this easier,  wrap it around a piece of wood. For larger pieces, I would recommend sander. I put above photo of the sander I am using (my best friend) - it is 300W orbital sander. Those sanders have square foot, they are easy to handle and control and it is almoust impossible to damage the surface with it. 

General rules for sanding

1. Sand with the grain of the wood (not cross-grain, as it could leave very visible scratches).

2. Start with the rougher sandpaper (lower the grit the rougher the sandpaper), continue with the finer sandpaper, approximately:
- grit 40-60 for heavy sanding or stripping
- grit 80 - 120 to remove smaller imperfections or smooth the surface
- grit 150 - 180 final finishing
 - grit 220 and more - sanding between coats of stain; very fine sanding

Beside the grit, I found out that  backing material also could play rather important role. I am using the sandpaper with fabric for backing material as this works the best for me and my sander. Those with the  paper teared up during sanding.

3. Wipe the dust from the wood with cloth, vacuum cleaner, damp rag; be sure to remove all the sand residue before painting; dry thoroughly

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