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How-To Tuesday: Refinish Wood – No Sanding!
How-To Tuesday is a series that incorporates both brand new and newly edited posts from the archives. Enjoy!
Original posts: No Sanding! Refinish Wood with Gel Stain, Reveal and Video
A Mid-Century Modern Dresser, Before and After
Mid-Century Modern Chest of Drawers, Before and After
I first discovered this technique while working with affiliate link General Finishes JQ Gel Stain, 1 quart, Java on my son’s mid-century dresser. It was amazing – I refinished the wood drawers without sanding!
This works beautifully under the following conditions:
- The original finish is in good condition.
- The original finish does not have any shiny lacquer or shellac topcoat.
- You want to go slightly darker in stain color and not lighter than the original finish.
Here is a YouTube video on the process.
Here is a closeup of the top before I stained it and you can see quite a bit of red. My customer wanted to tone down the red and create a darker finish against its newly painted white legs.
After cleaning and removing any dirt, I applied the first coat of the gel stain. I used General Finishes Java as it is a dark color that creates a deeper hue and toned down the red. Using a soft cloth, I dipped it into the stain and wiped it onto the top going in the direction of the grain. I allowed that to sit for a day or two and then applied the second coat. Again, I let that sit.
I came back and gently went over the top with a soft cloth. This removed the tiny bit of excess stain that had not adhered. For the sealer, affiliate link General Finishes SH Gel Topcoat, 1/2 pint, Satin was the perfect option. I used a staining sponge and liberally applied the urethane onto the sponge. I then wiped it along the grain, making sure to keep a smooth and even coat. It was the perfect finishing touch. It gives the top some sheen and finish plus a durable finish.
A few more examples of the java gel stain without sanding. Matthew’s mid-century modern chest of drawers as well as his mid-century modern chair makeover. Fantastic results!
I always love more YouTube subscribers! Please pop over to my channel, Suzanne Bagheri and subscribe for more tutorials – cheers!
Thanks for the info. I haven’t had the nerve to use gel stain for some reason. Will give it a try the next time I find a suitable piece. Lately I’ve found things that needed so much surface repair they had to be filled and then painted.
What can be done to cherry furniture that does have a shiny finish? I would love to tone down the cherry and take off the shine.
Hi Mary, I think your best bet is to lightly sand it back and then apply the java gel stain. Maybe try in an inconspicuous spot and see if it works. I likely will need to be roughed up a little so the stain will adhere.