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How To Refinish A Wooden Dresser Or Chest Of Drawers With Tung Oil

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Tung provides a beautiful, natural finish for wood that really lets the grain shine through. Since it penetrates well, it also seals the wood and offers a high level of protection. If you have an older dresser with a finish that is wearing off, you may wish to remove the old finish and replace it with tung oil in order to give the piece a new look and preserve it for longer. Here's how to do just that.

1. Strip the wood.

Most finishes can be removed with a paint stripper. There are eco-friendly, low-VOC paint strippers out there that you can use if you wish to avoid harsh chemicals, but do note that these won't work well for all finishes. You can try one, but if it does not work, you may need to resort to chemical stripper. Regardless of which type of stripper you use, you generally apply it to the surface, wait about 30 minutes, and then wipe it away. The finish comes up with it. You may need to apply and wipe it away two or three times to remove all of the finish.

Of course, to best strip the dresser, you should remove all of the drawers and hardware. 

2. Sand it down.

Sanding accomplishes two things. First, it removes any last traces of stain that might keep the tung oil from penetrating. Second, it smooths out the surface so your finished product looks a whole lot nicer. Use a coarse-grit sandpaper first, followed by a finer-grit sandpaper. Make sure you really focus on the edges of the dresser drawers. Fold the sandpaper in your hand so you can "wrap" it around the edge of the drawer and get in the nooks.

3. Apply the tung oil.

Once the last traces of finish are gone, you are ready to apply the oil! It's easiest to do the large surfaces on the dresser first so that by the time you get to the smaller drawer faces, you've had some practice. 

Use a sponge paintbrush, and dip it into the oil. Sweep it across the surface, going in the direction of the wood grain. Use enough oil to fully saturate the wood, but not so much that you get puddling or pooling. Let the oil dry for 20 minutes, and then buff away any excess, using a soft cloth. Wait a day, and if the finish is not deep enough, apply a second coat using the same method. Reattach your hardware, and enjoy your new/old dresser. For more help, contact a furniture refinishing service.