Restore a chest of drawers

White rings, stains, chips, dents and scratches. All of these can occur over time as a result of everyday wear and tear and accidents. If you have a piece of furniture that is in need of restoration, it's not as difficult as you think and can easily be done as a weekend do-it-yourself project.


In this project we look at how to restore a badly damaged chest of drawers. Although the piece is in very good condition structurally, layer upon layer of varnish has been added over the years, which has yellowed and cracked, and it is almost impossible to see the true beauty of the wood beneath.


Paint stripper/remover
Paint scraper
Multi sander or sanding block
60-, 120- and 240-grit sanding pads or sandpaper
Clean cloths
Mineral turpentine
Woodoc gel stain - choose from 6 colours and 6 wood tints
Woodoc sealer - see the Woodoc range for details
Woodoc Steelwool
Rubber gloves


1. The easy way to remove several layers of paint or varnish is to use paint stripper. Rubber gloves are essential when doing this as paint stripper burns the skin.

Leave the paint stripper on for the recommended length of time and then start to scrape away with the paint scraper. Hold the paint scraper at a 30-degree angle to prevent scratching the surface of the wood.

Depending upon how many layers of paint or varnish you need to remove, you may need to apply paint stripper more than once. Wrap all the paint/varnish peelings in newspaper to dispose of.

2. Go over the surface with Woodoc Steelwool to remove any residue left behind and get into mouldings and corners.

3. Sand the entire piece using a multi sander with 60-grit sandpaper if you need to remove any stubborn areas.

4. Use a multi sander or sanding block and 120-grit sandpaper to remove scratches or dents. When sanding out dents or scratches don't just concentrate on the damaged spot - sand the entire surface to prevent dips and an uneven finish.

5. Wipe clean with a cloth and mineral turpentine to remove all traces of dust. Allow to dry.

6. Squeeze Woodoc gel stain onto a soft cloth or sponge and apply to the project, working in small areas at a time. Apply with the grain for a consistent stain finish, starting at one end and running to the other end.

7. Once the gel stain has had time to dry, apply Woodoc sealer over the entire piece. Once again apply with the grain using a paintbrush, starting at one end and working in a single stroke to the other end. You will probably find that wood that has been coating with varnish for a long time will very quickly absorb the sealer, and you can immediately reapply to those areas that dry within 5 minutes - especially the end pieces. Allow this coat to dry to the touch.

8. Use Woodoc Steelwool to go over all the sealed areas and remove any residue left behind. This unblocks the pores of the wood and allows better absorption for the following coats. Two additional coats are required, using steelwool only after the second coat.