Recently I discovered a very helpful brochure online that gives detailed advice and tips for refinishing wood projects. We have some beautiful wooden Adirondack chairs that need to be refinished so I downloaded the brochure and read it. Bruce Johnson’s Guide to Wood Finishing is available at Minwax’s website and was a tremendous help to us in refinishing our Adirondack chairs. Routine care and maintenance of Adirondack chairs is important to keep the chairs looking their best; however, there are times when it will be necessary to completely refinish an Adirondack chair. Knowing some of Bruce Johnson’s tips will help you refinish the chair quickly, easily and beautifully.
Some of the best tips for refinishing wood we found in this brochure, as well as a few other sources, dealt with preparation. Before you refinish Adirondack chairs, you must first sand them to remove any old finishes as well as prepare the wood for a new finish. Sanding in the direction of the grain, use a medium grit sandpaper to remove old finishes and smooth the wood before switching to a finer grit sandpaper to finish. Bruce suggests testing for rough spots using an old sock over your hand to rub down the chair. After sanding, remove all dust using a cloth dampened with mineral spirits (if you are using an oil-based finish) or with water (if your finish is water based). One thing I did learn is that sandpaper grit influences how deep the stain color will be – – medium grit sandpaper will give you a deeper color.
Other interesting tips for refinishing a wood Adirondack chair are:
1. Use a wood conditioner before applying the stain for a more even stain color. Make sure you use an oil-based conditioner for oil-based stains and water-based conditioners for water-based stains.
2. Before jumping right in and “slapping” stain on, test a small hidden patch of wood. Stain reacts differently with different wood – – it is better to test a patch on your Adirondack chair so you do not end up with a color you do not like.
3. The more time you allow the stain to penetrate, the richer and darker the color. When testing a patch, time how long between application and wiping to judge how long you should leave the stain on the wood before wiping the excess away.
4. Speaking of wiping, after you apply the stain wipe off the excess with a rag in the direction of the grain. The more pressure you apply with the rag the more stain you will remove resulting in a lighter color.
5. Wipe of the excess stain from the wood before it dries otherwise your topcoat will not adhere properly when refinishing your chair.
6. Applying a clear finish to your Adirondack chair will protect it from weather, stains and wear.
Bruce Johnson’s Guide to Wood Finishing (©2004 Minwax Company)