Refinishing an Old Rocking Chair
A couple days ago, I finally finished a project that’s taken me a couple month’s worth of work- refinishing our old, but beloved, rocking chair!
It was a ”nursery” project, but I probably wouldn’t have taken it on if I didn’t already love this chair- I know some people who have bought rockers or gliders and hardly ever use them. But, I know this one will get use one way or another, so I think it was worth the effort. : ) Tim and I bought this rocking chair at a yard sale for $5 when we were first married, and I spent many hours sitting in it while doing homework or studying for nursing school. It’s so comfy, but it didn’t match any of our other furniture, and it kept falling apart.
This is the best “before” picture I have- the dowels had pretty much fallen off, and Tim had just re-glued the slats that make up the seat.
Step 1: Stripping & Sanding
The first step was to apply a stripper to the chair to remove the old finish. I’d read stories of people skipping this step and going straight to sanding- and they said it took a bajillion hours. I didn’t have that much time, so I opted to use this paint stripper first.
I chose this one, because it is considerably less toxic than any of the others I could find. It is safer and doesn’t have harsh fumes, which is always important to me- but especially important when carrying precious cargo! Tim helped me a bit with this step, which was awful nice of him. : )
The top picture is the goopy stuff doing its work, and the bottom picture is how it looked after scraping it off. After wiping the chair with mineral spirits and letting it dry, I got to work on the sanding. Unfortunately, I forgot to take pictures of this step- that seems to be happening a lot lately, and I blame it on my pregnant mind. There are a lot of things that get to be blamed on pregnancy- it’s great. Even after stripping, there was plenty of work to be done to ensure a smooth and “naked” surface for the restaining. I also had to work pretty hard to clean out all the joints- it seems this chair had fallen apart and been (improperly) put back together many times. Oh, and for those of you who are worried about this pregnant girl breathing in toxins, fumes, and sanding dust- don’t you worry, I wore THIS baby:
My neighbors may have laughed (In fact, they did: I heard them), but I didn’t care! It was comfortable and I didn’t breathe in any sanding dust or smell any nasty fumes. : )
Step 2: Staining
I chose to use a deep, dark stain that we already had on hand from a previous project, and applying it was easier than I thought it would be (I’d never stained anything before). The wood on the rocker isn’t all uniform, so some pieces took the stain more readily than others, but I was pleasantly surprised with how it soaked it up.
Step 3: Applying Clear Coat
After letting the stain dry for a couple days, I applied three clear coats of a water-based protective finish. (The same one I used on the dresser than my mom and I refinished).
The clear finish brought out the grain of the wood and gave the whole chair a nice semi-glossy finish.
Step 4: Putting it All Together
Finally, Tim used wood glue to put the dowels and top piece back on the chair. Our clamp wasn’t long enough, but we improvised a little to hold things in place. : )
When we first got the rocking chair, I made these pads for it, and they happen to match the colors and feel of our mini-nursery pretty well. Score! 1 less project for me to try to finish right now! I may eventually re-cover them, because I didn’t have the foresight to make the cover removable for easy washing the first time around- oops. The color looks more reddish in this picture- in reality, the pattern on the fabric is more of a cranberry/maroon color. (I really should have changed the white balance on my camera, I know).
So, there it is- another project completed! Here’s a reminder of how the rocking chair looked before I whipped it into shape. The deeper chocolate/espresso color goes with our other furniture (and my taste in general) so much better!
Only 2 weeks and 3 days til this baby girl’s due date!