How to Refinish Old Bentwood Chairs


It's important to keep our antiques looking and functioning the best we can. Refinishing is sometimes part of that upkeep. Bentwood chairs can seem a little tricky due to the lack of flat surfaces.

Strip the finish

Step 1

Put on gloves and an apron to protect against the chemicals in the stripper.

Step 2

Apply the furniture stripper to all of the chair parts using a small bristle brush. Let it sit for the recommended working time.

Step 3

Pour mineral spirits into a small container and dip the steel wool into it. Rub the steel wool aggressively over all the chair parts to remove the excess stripper.

Step 4

Dip the steel wool in to the mineral spirits often to wash out the stripper. When the steel wool becomes too gummed up with the excess stripper, change it out for a new pad.

Step 5

Once all the excess stripper is removed, wash the chair down one last time with mineral spirits and steel wool. This helps to make sure there is no lasting residue.

Step 6

Set the chair aside to dry for at least one hour. Check it often to see if it has completely dried. The drying time will vary depending upon the temperature and time of year.

Step 7

Sand the chair using the 200-grit sandpaper to remove any lasting residue and to prepare the surface for a new finish.

Step 8

Remove the sanding dust with either a dust brush or shop vacuum.

Step 9

Select the wood finish of your choice and apply to the newly prepared bentwood chair.

Tips and Warnings

  • Working with chemical strippers can be hazardous. Work in a well ventilated area and wear eye protection as well as a respirator.

Things You'll Need

  • Gloves
  • Apron
  • Furniture stripper
  • Small bristle brush
  • #0 steel wool
  • Mineral spirits
  • Small tub or container
  • Cotton rags
  • 220-grit sandpaper
  • Dust brush or shop vacuum
  • Wood finish of your choice


  • Refinish and Repair an Antique Chair
Keywords: Bentwood chair, Antique, Refinish

About this Author

Adam King has been a writer, artist and educator for more than a decade. As an entrepreneur, his writing experience has covered many areas, ranging from small business topics, self-help, personal growth, to most recently fine furniture making. He currently writes for Fine Woodworking, The Woodworker's Journey, and Adam King Studio. His writing ranges from how-to articles to sales and promotional copy.

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