Wood refinishing tip


September 12, 2012 by twinoaksstudio

Today is a beautiful day here in Maryland.   I am always looking for an excuse to spend time outside, so today I am outside sanding a table top for a client.


When I refinish a dining room table, I like to stain the top.  Which means stripping and sanding – the whole messy enchilada.    Anyone who has stripped a piece of furniture knows that this is a time consuming task.   At some point you just want to be done with it so you can get to staining.    How do you know when you are at the “done with sanding” stage?    I found a neat trick on one of the woodworkers forums (sorry but I can’t recall which one!)  that lets you have a little “preview” of what the wood would look like with a coat of stain on it – without actually applying any stain.


Wipe on Mineral Spirits!    Its pretty easy and very non-commital.   Put on rubber gloves, grab a small rag and wipe it on.   (I recommend doing this outside – Mineral Spirits are stinky.  It is a flammable liquid so please read the label before using it.)    After about 30 minutes the spirits will have evaporated enough to continue working on the piece.

Below is the table top I’ve been working on.   I wanted to know if the slight shadows would show up after staining.  My client wants it stained dark, but I don’t want it to end up streaky in spots from underlying shadows.   The left side shows the table after stripping and some sanding.   I did wipe it down with a microfiber cloth, but its still hard to gauge what it would look like stained.   The right side has also been stripped and sanded, but I wiped Mineral Spirits onto it.  And yes, those pesky shadows are still there.   So that means more sanding for me!


Here is the table after additional sanding, and more mineral spirits.   Much better!


Thanks for stopping by!   I hope this information is helpful!

I will be linking this post up with Miss Mustardseed’s link party!    See  http://missmustardseed.com/  for all of the fabulous details!

Update:   Check out my sequel to this post where I use Mineral Spirits as a distressing agent:      https://twin-oaks-studio.com/2012/09/19/another-wood-refinishing-tip/

Also a HUGE thanks to Marian at MissMustartseed for the feature!

12 thoughts on “Wood refinishing tip

  1. Nelda says:

    That’s a VERY helpful tip. Thanks!

  2. samaa says:

    Great tip, thanks for sharing!

  3. Maureen says:

    Good to know! Thanks for sharing.

  4. Dee says:

    Thanks for the tip. I was reading another blog & the lady mentioned using Mineral Spirits for destressing but didn’t give the details. Have you ever heard of this technique? Thanks for sharing, Dee from My Painted Stuff.

    • Thanks for the comment. I have not heard of using mineral spirits for distressing. Hmmmm… Maybe it was used to thin or dilute the stain if it was used as a glaze? I have never tried it before though. Interesting idea though!

    • Good morning! I just typed in a reply in my blog but decided to email also just in case you miss it. I have not heard of using mineral spirits as a distressing agent. My only thought would be that it was used to thin or dilute the stain, but its something that I have not tried. It is an interesting idea though! Thanks for the comment!

  5. […] spirits, but they can be really awesome when refinishing furniture.  Here is a great post by Twin Oaks Studio about using […]

  6. irene says:

    thank you for such a great tip, that’s always a big question, “when am I finished sanding”. I like to see the wood through my stain, but not yuky shadows.

  7. […] stripped and sanded the oak top.   Please see my refinishing tip which was featured on Miss Mustardseed’s Furniture Feature Frida…   The post features the table top from this set.   Looks different all finished, doesn’t […]

  8. Christine says:

    Hi! Just found you via Pinterest. 🙂
    I’m another Marylander, down towards Upper Marlboro.
    I realize this is an old post, but I wanted to ask if you knew about Citristrip or Soygel?
    Not only do you NOT need a space suit or gas mask, they are not flesh eating chemicals.

    My point, though is that their first coat (if left overnight) will eat through as many as 7 layers (so far) of antique paint, lifting it right off like ribbons or in sheets! A 2nd coat (left for a few hours) will such stain right out of wood. Really. Right down to the wood looking like it’s never been painted or stained. neutralize it with water, not mineral spirits. Truly skin-friendly.

    I’ve done 15 antique doors so far, and I’m on my 17th kitchen cabinet, IN PLACE. This stuff is SO easy, it’s almost fun. And you don’t have to sand, nor run the risk of any detail or veneer being lost. Just ignore the 15 minute thing and leave it on. If I have to leave, sometimes I press cut open plastic bags onto the Citristrip to hold the stripper against the wood so it eats the paint.

    I’m hoping this is old news to you by now. Your work is lovely — and you work too hard to deal with those Gawd-awful chemicals when you don’t have to. Imagine no sanding when you were done stripping! I’ve got proof — and pictures. 🙂

    i’ll be following you via Bloglovin’ and reading the rest of your blog! Do you sell at Luckett’s?

    • Hi There!
      Thanks for stopping by! 🙂 I do love Soygel. I like how it stays fluid and doesn’t merge with the old finish. I haven’t tried the Citristrip yet. I do sell at Lucketts Spring Market and sold at their Holiday Market last November. Its wonderful fun 🙂
      The amazing bed in my portfolio is in my daughter’s room. Its a wonderful piece 🙂 It had some problems with the veneer and overall finish but paint and wood filler and glue fixed all of that ugly stuff. I do custom work – feel free to send me pictures of your pieces. I’ll drop you a direct email too. Thanks and enjoy the weather! — Pauline

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