The Complete Guide To Refurbishing Found Furniture: Part 2

Safety First Kids

First thing’s first. Refurbishing dilapidated furniture to sell it for a profit can actually be enjoyable! But you know what’s not fun? Splinters, vapor fumes, chemical burns, and cuts/scrapes. Ain’t Nobody Got Time For That.

construction worker

While the process can be fun, safety is no laughing matter, so keep these tips in mind before you get started. Safety goggles are your friend. Wear them when you’re working with power tools and to help protect your eyes from fumes. In the same vein, you’ll want to wear long sleeves to protect yourself from harsh chemicals that you may use to clean, strip, or varnish your furniture. You’ll also want to purchase a mask for ventilation purposes. Depending on the equipment you use, you may also need to wear close toed shoes and gloves. Remember, better safe than sorry! Use your common sense and if you’re feeling lightheaded or even if you’re just feeling tired, it is time to take a break! You can use this down time to research the item or browse the web for ideas on completing your project. In Part 1, I gave you a list of my Five Favorite websites where you can gather inspiration!

Tool Time

Does everybody know what time it is? Tool Time! Was Home Improvement a great show or what? They just don’t make sitcoms like they used to. Disclaimer: I may be biased because I had a seriously out of hand crush on Jonathan Taylor Thomas. He was, and remains forever, the Cat’s Meow.  While you shouldn’t take safety tips from Tim “The Tool Man” Taylor, he was right about one thing. Tools are awesome! (Insert Manly Grunt Here)

The tools you’ll need for your project will vary based on the specifics of what you’re doing. Here are some basics just to help you get started:

  • Oil soap
  • Sandpaper
  • Sander
  • Measuring Tape
  • Plastic Gloves
  • Paint Brush
  • Paint
  • Toothbrush
  • Wood putty
  • Wood glue
  • Putty Knife
  • Primer
  • Paint
  • Varnish/Stain
  • Liquid stripping gel
  • Steel Wool
  • Screwdrivers
  • Screws and Other Hardware
  • Rubber Mallet
  • Flashlight
  • Upholstery/Fabric

Establish A Budget

Before you get started on your project, you may want to do research on your item to determine its value. You may want to consider the price you can get for the item in its current condition, the price of similar items, and the price of similar items that have been refurbished. You may also want to consider how refurbishing the item may change the value of the piece.


For example, if you have an antique chair that may be somewhat valuable, you may want to consider only making minor repairs to keep the item in as much of its original condition as possible because this may sell for more money than if you updated the upholstery and sanded it down. On the other hand, if you’ve found a table that isn’t worth anything, feel free to go crazy with the paint and make it unique as possible! On sites like Etsy, you may find that the more quirky the item is, the more you’ll be able to sell it for. Once you know how much money you can make once your item is restored, you’ll have a clear idea of the amount of money you’re willing to spend to fix it up and still be able to make a profit. You will also want to budget your time. Weigh your time against the end amount that you think you’ll be able to make and don’t let one project monopolize you!

Refurbishing For Dummies

If you’re new to furniture restoration, you may want to keep several how-to-guides handy. You can go the tradition route and read books, or you can use the internet to find video guides and information. TLC and  the DIY Network are both great  websites with tons of informative articles and images to get the ball rolling. My suggestion for keeping all of your information organized is to create a Pinterest board for each project you undertake. Within that board you can include how-to-guides as well as hardware options, paint selections, inspirational images and more. Not only does this help you, but you’re doing a good deed by passing on the knowledge to other DIY rookies.


Before you can work on your new piece you’ll want to prep it by giving it a good cleaning. It may have been sitting in that storage unit for years! You should use oil soap and warm water for wood and use a sponge to gently rub it clean. For smaller or more intricate items, this is where the toothbrush will come in handy.  For upholstered items you will want to vacuum the item and create a detergent mixture to scrub away spots, unless you plan to reupholster completely! You may find that all the item needed was a good clean to be ready for sale.

The next step is repairing or replacing damaged pieces. Start by checking any screws. You may  need to simply tighten or replace these. You may have to replace parts completely. To find the perfect match for broken table, chair, and desk legs or shelf pieces you may have to have custom items made. More than likely you’ll need to use wood glue and putty to secure your piece.

The last thing you’ll need to do before you get started on the actual project is to strip/sand your items or upholstery. Depending on your project you may also want to remove hardware pieces such as drawer pulls, shelves, and brackets.

Stay tuned for part 3 where I’ll give you Ten Tips To Give New Life To Your Items!

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