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Refinishing a Wooden Oak Chest


Thriftdiving
Thriftdiving
Thriftdiving
Thriftdiving

I found this old handmade wooden oak chest at the thrift store for $40 but it didn't cost me a dime because I had a gift card, so it was literally free! As much as I love painting wood furniture, I didn't want to "ruin" this solid oak chest with paint so I used a pretty ebony wood dye and liming wax to highlight the grain!

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  1. Project Steps

    1. Step: 1

      Large e5029df2 4deb 4402 888f 3253607060c9

      I started this project with the ONE+ orbit sander, 80-grit sandpaper. I have used my orbit sander to refinish plenty of projects, especially dresser tops. I typically start with 80 grit sandpaper, move to 150 grit, then finish with a 220 fine grit sandpaper. But with an orbit sander, you must move slowly to prevent swirly "pigtails" in your project. So I wanted something that would allow me to move a bit faster and more aggressive.

    2. Step: 2

      Large 9d11a57e 475c 4ffd aa0c 648095324289

      I switched to a more aggressive belt sander. I have the corded belt sander but RYOBI makes a brushless battery-operated one, which I MUST get my hands on! I love this sander. Gets the job done quickly and efficiently without chemical strippers.

    3. Step: 3

      Large 0d86373e 48c6 4319 9c10 7c41979bedd5

      I used the Multi Tool with the triangular head attachment to sand the parts that were too small to be sanded with the orbit sander or belt sander.

    4. Step: 4

      Large fede5033 246f 4612 8257 a6c226de5a3d

      Wood dye penetrates the wood instead of the pigment lying on top of the wood. I wanted to use this water-based dye so that I could use liming wax to highlight the grain of the oak. Wood dye would allow the liming wax to easily be applied to the grain.

    5. Step: 5

      Large b7cde5a2 2dc4 432d 938c 119e0665ef53

      Sanding sealer helps seal in the wood dye to prevent it from water-based materials from causing the dye to rub off. After applying the sanding sealer, I waited about 1 hour and lightly sanded the chest.

    6. Step: 6

      Large ef9e56c6 89f0 4f70 8d2d 4964c3c0b7b4

      The topcoat seals everything in. Just one coat was used. I let it dry overnight before moving on to the next step: liming wax.

    7. Step: 7

      Large 1fd3e704 4123 46e0 bc9d cc2f9d95b515

      Liming wax highlights the grain of oak. Rub on, into the grain, then remove with clear wax. You'll need to go over it several time with clear wax to remove the white haze that liming wax leaves behind.

    8. Step: 8

      Large 4615d15e 8120 4d7f b257 bf53b93c46bb

      I created a metal monogram of my initials using a vinyl stencil, tin snips, aluminum sheeting. I nailed it down to the front of the chest with tiny 1/2" nails.

    9. Step: 9

      Large fa79c91e 6873 4b9c 8c0c 6ca4cfaf4f00

      Rub n' Buff is perfect for changing the color of tarnished hardware instead of buying all new hardware. I went with silver because it complimented the ebony wood dye.

    10. Step: 10

      Large f449ff33 9998 4333 8a59 c87018879133

      I reattached the hardware to the chest with my RYOBI drill. And that's it! The project took about 3-5 hours total (minus the overnight drying of the top coat). I had many of the tools and materials so I spent about $12 on the aluminum and nail.

Comments (2)


  • That is beautiful, thanks for sharing.....
    By Siclestix, on November 1, 2018

  • Love the wood grain on your completed project.
    By AnnetteMW, on November 3, 2018

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Refinishing a Wooden Oak Chest

by Thriftdiving
Nov 01, 2018
Medium fb96a127 bf5e 46f3 b8a1 08a9dcfe4da8

I found this old handmade wooden oak chest at the thrift store for $40 but it didn't cost me a dime because I had a gift card, so it was literally free! As much as I love painting wood furniture, I didn't want to "ruin" this solid oak chest with paint so I used a pretty ebony wood dye and liming wax to highlight the grain!

Project Steps

  1. Step: 1
    Huge e5029df2 4deb 4402 888f 3253607060c9

    I started this project with the ONE+ orbit sander, 80-grit sandpaper. I have used my orbit sander to refinish plenty of projects, especially dresser tops. I typically start with 80 grit sandpaper, move to 150 grit, then finish with a 220 fine grit sandpaper. But with an orbit sander, you must move slowly to prevent swirly "pigtails" in your project. So I wanted something that would allow me to move a bit faster and more aggressive.

  2. Step: 2
    Huge 9d11a57e 475c 4ffd aa0c 648095324289

    I switched to a more aggressive belt sander. I have the corded belt sander but RYOBI makes a brushless battery-operated one, which I MUST get my hands on! I love this sander. Gets the job done quickly and efficiently without chemical strippers.

  3. Step: 3
    Huge 0d86373e 48c6 4319 9c10 7c41979bedd5

    I used the Multi Tool with the triangular head attachment to sand the parts that were too small to be sanded with the orbit sander or belt sander.

  4. Step: 4
    Huge fede5033 246f 4612 8257 a6c226de5a3d

    Wood dye penetrates the wood instead of the pigment lying on top of the wood. I wanted to use this water-based dye so that I could use liming wax to highlight the grain of the oak. Wood dye would allow the liming wax to easily be applied to the grain.

  5. Step: 5
    Huge b7cde5a2 2dc4 432d 938c 119e0665ef53

    Sanding sealer helps seal in the wood dye to prevent it from water-based materials from causing the dye to rub off. After applying the sanding sealer, I waited about 1 hour and lightly sanded the chest.

  6. Step: 6
    Huge ef9e56c6 89f0 4f70 8d2d 4964c3c0b7b4

    The topcoat seals everything in. Just one coat was used. I let it dry overnight before moving on to the next step: liming wax.

  7. Step: 7
    Huge 1fd3e704 4123 46e0 bc9d cc2f9d95b515

    Liming wax highlights the grain of oak. Rub on, into the grain, then remove with clear wax. You'll need to go over it several time with clear wax to remove the white haze that liming wax leaves behind.

  8. Step: 8
    Huge 4615d15e 8120 4d7f b257 bf53b93c46bb

    I created a metal monogram of my initials using a vinyl stencil, tin snips, aluminum sheeting. I nailed it down to the front of the chest with tiny 1/2" nails.

  9. Step: 9
    Huge fa79c91e 6873 4b9c 8c0c 6ca4cfaf4f00

    Rub n' Buff is perfect for changing the color of tarnished hardware instead of buying all new hardware. I went with silver because it complimented the ebony wood dye.

  10. Step: 10
    Huge f449ff33 9998 4333 8a59 c87018879133

    I reattached the hardware to the chest with my RYOBI drill. And that's it! The project took about 3-5 hours total (minus the overnight drying of the top coat). I had many of the tools and materials so I spent about $12 on the aluminum and nail.