Feb 13

Restoring furniture: The four most important things you need

Don’t even think about attempting to breathe life into a vintage piece without reading this! Make sure you’re well prepared and have all these elements in abundance. 


If you’ve found an old chair at a garage sale on Saturday morning and you’re planning to have it looking fabulous for when guests arrive for lunch on Sunday, think again. You can guarantee – especially if you are a beginner, that every step will take longer than you thought it would and that you might even find yourself starting over on some sections to achieve the look that you want. But that’s ok! Half the joy of furniture restoration is taking the time to get it perfect. So don’t set an unreasonable deadline and rob yourself of the fun.


It’s so important to know the materials you’re working with and what they will respond best to. Do some research and make sure you’re not about to make a water mark worse or waste your time with the wrong type of varnish for the appearance of the piece you’re working with. Make sure you’ve got some reference materials handy so that you don’t accidentally skip a step and set yourself back. It’s also hugely important to confirm you’re not about to take a vintage piece and actually strip it of value by making changes that reduce its unique selling points.

The Right Tools

This goes hand in hand with understanding the piece you’re working with. Gather the best quality tools you can afford and check details like exactly what screw size you’ll need before you head to the hardware store. Have everything ready to go – your sander, paint stripper, cleaning cloths and a tape measure before you start or you’ll just find yourself getting frustrated.


It turns out furniture restoration isn’t always a matter of rubbing an old work bench down with some sandpaper and slapping on a fresh coat of paint or varnish. Don’t be discouraged if your masterpiece ends up being a larger project than you anticipated. Be patient, stay calm, take a break if you need to and your hard work will pay off when your friends come by to admire your handiwork (you can tell them it hardly took you any time at all!)

Check out our beautiful selection of vintage and restored furniture or order a table to be custom made at Rust Online.



  1. Tania Naven 8th May 2016

    We have recently ncovered (under four layers pf paint – three of those layers oil based) an oregon wood door. I used paint stripper and a hand sander to find the wood, but have since been told to use instead lots of elbow grease and steel wool. Is there a quicker alternative, one a bit more sensitive to oregon wood rather than paint stripper? Any advice well appreciated.+

    • Michael Browning 19th May 2016

      Hi Tania, I would suggest that steel wool is not going to work with 3 layers of oil based paint, sounds like you are on track with the paint stripper and sand paper.

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