For a while I've been looking for someone to restore the furniture in the picture. Without the caning, the cheapest I found was $350. They would take the furniture apart, sand and repaint, and then glue it back together to strengthen joinery.

I know nothing about restoring furniture, much less wood, but I'm thinking that at $350, I can at least try.

So, my question, is restoring this bench something that I can, or should, do? I'm trying to be a DIY guy, but I'm really a beginner with any of this. I'm a technical guy, so my construction/DIY abilities are very limited.

I already have someone that can do the caning.

enter image description here

  • 1
    "They would take the furniture apart, sand and repaint" Just so you know most of that should be raising alarm bells — you never take something apart unless the joints are loose, and sanding is not how any decent pro will remove finish and prep it for new finish. "So, my question, is restoring this bench something that I can, or should, do?" I'm afraid this is impossible to answer. Even with much more detail than you've currently provided (say a dozen pics and a full written description of any issues) it's impossible because the one key element of this we can't know anything about is you.
    – Graphus
    Dec 11 '19 at 16:42
  • I'm ok with this being voted to close as Too Broad if that's what the community wants. I answered anyway, because why the heck not.
    – jdv
    Dec 11 '19 at 19:03
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    sometimes it's just a matter of asking the same question in a different way: i.e. "what are the steps needed to restore a bench as this". And then a beginner DIY would judge whether or not it is worth doing.
    – ww_init_js
    Dec 12 '19 at 0:10
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    If you enjoy working with your hands and have time, I would recommend this as an excellent long term woodworking project including the cane work. As others have mentioned this project will involve a number of new skills. I would practice each new skill on simpler projects and then apply them to this seat as you gain skill. While it may take a while to finish the job, there is a great deal of gratification in showing off your handiwork when it finishes up.
    – Ashlar
    Dec 14 '19 at 15:58
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    The first thing that comes to mind before attempting to answer the question is to ask, "What's wrong with it?" Are there structural problems with the bench itself? Why are we talking about taking it apart and re-gluing and sanding, etc? Is this a refinishing issue only? What about this needs "restored"?
    – gnicko
    Dec 16 '19 at 19:57

This isn't very answerable, as suggested by the comments you are getting. But we can make some general statements about this project.

First of all, whatever you are doing right now: stop. Put the tools down and take a step back. Again, the comments are telling you that at least some of your assumptions are wrong. It is very rare that "refinishing" would require taking joinery apart. You should also set some limits and requirements. Are you refreshing the caning, or living with it? Do you want to change the colour or finish, or is this a refresh of the existing finish? In short, how far do you think you are going to go? Down to bare wood, or just freshen things up?

This is important because joinery, finishing, caning, etc. all take different skills at different times, each with their own tools and techniques.

Only you can answer these questions, but you should keep in mind what your limit is, and as you assess this job adjust expectations accordingly.

You say that you are not experienced, but that you grok technical stuff. Ok, let's work with that.

I'd suggest going to a library and taking out a few books on refinishing wood furniture. Just get a feel for how this stuff is done, and the sorts of tools and techniques you will be expected to use. Pay attention to the order of operations this sort of small project requires, and where the critical steps are.

Then, start building a list of stuff you need. Even modest refinishing will require quite a few different tools, consumables, and chemicals. But only when you know what you want to do will this list emerge. You should now have a decent idea of what steps have to be taken in some order to get the results you want.

Third, find a place where you can leave this stuff undisturbed while the project is active. Even modest refinishing can be quite messy, so you want a place to keep things contained. Pay attention to which of your supplies can and can't be stored in an unheated place, if you choose a place that can freeze occasionally.

As for specifics, come back here with those specific questions as you progress.

  • I'd love to give this a +1 just for the use of the word grok :-)
    – Graphus
    Dec 12 '19 at 8:09
  • @GraphussupportsMonica, added the +1 ... lol
    – jsotola
    Dec 13 '19 at 19:07
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    OK, even knowing the word 'grok' dates you! ;p
    – Ashlar
    Dec 14 '19 at 15:53
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    @Ashlar, yeah, we're from the future :-o
    – Graphus
    Dec 16 '19 at 7:54
  • I liked this answer so much I voted for it twice! Since that cancelled out my vote, I got to vote it up a third time!!
    – FreeMan
    Dec 16 '19 at 15:56

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