How to Finish Unfinished Furniture

A great way to add a personal touch to your decor and save money in the process, is to finish your own wood furniture. There are many stores that deal specifically in unfinished furniture with prices well below those of traditional furniture stores. Finishing your own furniture is also a fun project to complete over a weekend.

  1. Remove any hardware on the piece of furniture. Put any handles or metal decorations in a sandwich bag to replace on the furniture later.

  2. Sand your piece of furniture well. Get every corner and also on the underside of the piece.

  3. Wipe the furniture with a damp cloth to remove all of the sawdust. Make sure to get into all the nooks and crannies. Allow it to dry.

  4. Apply your choice of stain with an appropriate brush as listed in the directions on the stain can. Apply the stain evenly and rub it in with a rag if necessary. Allow the stain to dry for about 24 hours. Repeat to add a second coat of stain if desired.

  5. Coat the entire piece with polyurethane using a natural bristle brush. Allow the polyurethane to dry for four to six hours, may take longer depending on the weather.

  6. Sand lightly with a light grit sandpaper. Wipe with a clean, dry rag. Repeat Steps 5 and 6 for a total of three layers of polyurethane. Allow the furniture to dry for several days before using.


  • Make sure to dispose of your rags and leftover stain and polyurethane properly. These products are flammable and some land fills will not accept them.

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