How to Sand an Antique Dining Room Chair

Wiping an antique chair with a white cloth
  • 5-20 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 20-200
What You'll Need
Antique dining room chair
Fine grit sandpaper
Screw driver (Phillip's or flat head)
Drop cloth
Dry soft rags
Masking tape
Varnish remover

You have a beautiful set of antique dining room chairs, but they have aged over time and they no longer shine like they used to. In addition, the color and the finish no longer meets your tastes and blends with your current decor and house design motif. What do you do? Well, you can simply replace the set, but then you would lose sentimental value. Alternatively, you can spend a weekend sanding and refinishing your antique dining room chairs. Here is how:

Step 1 - Remove the Chair Seat

If your antique dining room chair has a padded seat, you are best to remove that before you begin. Turn over the chair and rest it gently on the floor. On the bottom, you should see how your seat is being held to the frame. Usually they are held with screws that can be loosened with a screwdriver. Tear off a piece of masking tape and place it sticky side up on the floor. Begin to pull out the screws. Place the pulled out screws on the masking tape. All the screws should line up neatly along the tape. Take a second piece of tape and place the sticky side over the other side of the screws. Now you have a little screw pack that will not get lost as you sand down your dining room chair. Put away the seat cover for safe keeping.

Step 2 - Add a Drop Cloth

drop cloth and paint brushes

Place a drop cloth underneath your work area to protect your floors.

Step 3 - Remove Varnish

Make sure you are working in a very well ventilated area. If your chair has a clear varnish coating, remove the varnish before you begin to sand. You can purchase a material at any local home improvement center that will allow you to strip the wood chair of the varnish. Using a rag you can throw away later, put a little varnish remover on the rag and apply to the chair. The lacquer or varnish will disappear. Throw the rags away and wipe down the chair with a mild soap and water. Allow the chair to dry completely.

Step 4 - Sand the Chair

sanding a wood chair

Taking several different grit sandpaper, sand down the chair. Start with a coarse grit, working your way through to a finer grit. Sand in long sweeping motions. Start at the bottom of the chair first and work your way to the finest grit. Take a good look at how the chair is turning out. If you are satisfied, proceed and complete the sanding of the entire chair.

Step 5 - Clean the Dining Room Chair

Now that you have your chair completely sanded, take a light rag with warm soapy water (mild soap) and wipe down the chair. Rinse well. Allow to dry completely before you add a new stain or paint. Continue and finish the other antique dining room chairs.