How to Redo My Old Wood Cabinets

Refinishing wooden cabinets is labor intensive, but an effective way to renew the look for your kitchen or any room the cabinets are in.

Update the look and feel of your kitchen by redoing old wooden cabinets.Update the look and feel of your kitchen by redoing old wooden cabinets.
Wooden cabinets that are deeply blemished -- scratched, chipped and so on -- but otherwise in a stable condition will benefit from refinishing. Refinishing wooden cabinets takes place over several days. The more cabinets you have to redo, the longer the process will take. Applying a wood stain brings the beauty and life back into wooden cabinets.

Remove all objects from the counter top and set them aside.

Place old newspaper or a tarp beneath the cabinets.

Remove the cabinet knobs and pulls. Unscrew the knobs and pulls from behind with a screwdriver.

Remove all hardware from the cabinets using a screwdriver. Hardware includes hinges and screws. Remove the cabinet doors.

Remove the cabinet drawers and set them aside. Label and number each drawer with masking tape and a marker.

Apply a chemical stripper according to the manufacturer's directions to all doors and drawers. Typically, you brush on the chemical stripper and allow it to sit for the recommended time.

Push a scraper through the finish at an angle, removing the old finish. Repeat until the scraper reaches wood. Scrape in the direction of the wood, discarding the old finish as it accumulates on the scraper.

Remove stains on the wood using steel wool and wood bleach. Follow the manufacturer's directions.

Wipe away residue using mineral spirits. Water may soak into the wood, causing it to swell and raise the grain. Allow all surfaces to dry.

Apply a wood sealer to all cabinet doors and drawers according to the manufacturer's directions. A wood sealer helps stain soak in uniformly. Wipe away any excess sealer with a clean rag. If you wish to darken and intensify the stain, repeat.

Brush wood stain on all cabinet drawers and door with a paintbrush according to the manufacturer's directions. A natural bristle paintbrush works well for oil-based stain, while a synthetic paintbrush works well for water-based stain.

Sand the surfaces gently with fine grit sandpaper once the stain is dry. Wipe away dust with a clean rag.

Apply a second coat of stain. Repeat once the second coat of stain is dry according to the manufacturer's directions or your personal preference.

Apply polyurethane to all surfaces. Do not shake the can before applying. Evenly apply the polyurethane in small strokes and allow it to dry. Repeat if necessary.

Install new cabinet knobs and pulls. Place the face of the knob or pull on the outside of the doors and drawers and secure using the screw provided and your screwdriver on the inside of the doors and drawers.

Reinstall all cabinet doors and drawers in their proper locations. Install the hinges to the doors and then to the door frame. Secure the doors to the frame with the screws provided.

Things You Will Need

  • Old newspaper or a tarp
  • Screwdriver
  • Masking tape
  • Marker
  • Chemical stripper
  • Scraper
  • Steel wool
  • Wood bleach
  • Mineral spirits
  • Wood sealer
  • Wood stain
  • Paintbrush
  • Fine grit sandpaper
  • Polyurethane
  • Cabinet knobs
  • Cabinet pulls

About the Author

Stephanie Nolan has been a freelance writer since 2005. Her articles appear on various websites, where she specializes in topics about home improvement, parenting and interior design. Nolan holds an Associate of Applied Science degree in business management from the University of Phoenix.