Dining Room Chairs

Our dining room table and chairs are a mish mash of an antique table found at an auction and some antique chairs passed down to me from my mom. Neither the table or chairs have received any love in a looong time, so this makeover is very overdue. I’m starting with the chairs because I can pull them out of rotation one at a time without really interfering in day to day life.

Current condition:

Still completely sound, but looking a little war torn. They’ve survived 80+ years in the family with only a little cleaning here and there. Of course, my mom used to threaten our lives when we were little if anything ever happened to them, so let’s just say we treated them with care.

My plan was to clean them up and then refinish with some new stain and poly. I love all the little battle scars these guys have received over the years and didn’t have any intention of re-creating the chairs into anything “new”. The first attempt at cleaning, involved a mild solution of olive oil and vinegar, but after some hard scrubbing it really only scratched the surface of the layers of dirt and grime accumulated over the years. Stage two involved smelly mineral spirits and chemical gloves. The mineral spirits are much harsher on both the wood and myself, but definitely required to clean these babies.

After the scrubbing and drying were complete, it was time for stain. For this project I went with Polyshades in Antique Walnut from Minwax. Polyshades are stain and polyurethane in one. Super easy to apply, but requires about 6 hours in-between coats. Looong dry time. What worked for me was to apply a coat later in the evening, let it dry overnight and through the entire next day. Then apply a second coat the next evening. Rushing stain and/or poly is never a good idea. I’ve learned that lesson the hard way.

Chair #1 after two coats:

Much better, huh. I love the new finish as it has really breathed some new life into these old guys. Well, guy anyway. One chair down and three more to go. Then it’s onto the table. Fun, fun!

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