How To Refinish A Pine Dresser

Refinishing furniture of any kind can be a hard, but rewarding experience. Pine furniture tends to be a taboo in the refinishing world because pine is cheap and pine is a soft wood, making the removal of old finishes much more difficult. I feel that with the right tools and a bit of time, every piece of furniture is worth saving, just not always to the same extent.

The pine dresser that we refinished was not meant to be a beautiful center piece of a fancy room. It was merely meant to be a functional dresser in an 11 year old boys room. This pine dresser was found sitting in a garbage pile outside of a home with a free sign. While not of the best quality I definitely saw some potential with this dresser.

This dresser was finished for an 11 year old boy, he only had some old cheap particle board furniture in his room that was deteriorating fast. So even a pine dresser was a big step up in quality.

Structurally the dresser was in decent shape. Cosmetically this dresser had been abused. The finish was almost completely gone on the top with deep scratches and gouges galore.

  1. The first thing I did to this dresser was to dis-assemble it as much as possible and remove the drawers. Refinishing is significantly easier when broken down into smaller pieces. This helps to create more flat surfaces, smaller pieces to work with, and gives you a great stopping point (finish one drawer and take a break).
  2. Next the old varnish was stripped using a gel stripper. I knew that I would eventually be doing a lot of sanding on this dresser, but stripping is always a must. It keeps the area cleaner and is much easier than sanding, especially in the curved area.
  3. The next step on this dresser was done for two reasons and I would not recommend doing this to any dresser that has any historical significance or value. I power sanded to top and all of the flat area’s on the drawers and the sides of the dresser. I did this because it was a pine dresser and I was only concerned with having a decent looking dresser that would work in an 11 year olds room.
  4. Once the dresser was stripped and sanded, all of the curved area’s were bleached. Knowing that we were going to an ebony (near black) stain I knew that I wanted to remove anything that I could and was not worried about conserving anything. Oxalic acid was used to bleach out the remaining stain on the curved pieces of the dresser.¬† TIP: Bleach is a wonderful tool in finishing wood, you can bleach out old stains and bleach new woods so they more closely match each other.
  5. Once all of the stripping, sanding and bleaching was done, the remaining steps were pretty quick and easy. The pine dresser was stained with an ebony stain from Minwax using a brush on and wipe off method. Staining with ebony or black stain is very forgiving, but make sure to wipe thoroughly when using any other colors.
  6. Next one coat of sanding sealer was sprayed onto the dresser using a Capspray  HVLP sprayer. I used an HVLP because I had one available, sanding sealer can also be brushed on using any high quality brush.
  7. After the sanding sealer had dried, the entire dresser was sanded using a 220 grit paper and vacuumed to remove all dust.
  8. After sanding the sanding sealer, two coats of Minwax satin ployurethane were sprayed on to finish the project. Again, brushing works great as long as all edges are kept wet, strokes are done in the same direction and plenty of product is used so that the strokes will self level.


  • Total time invested: 7 hours
  • $0 for the dresser
  • $30 for 1 quart stain, 1 quart sanding sealer, 1 quart satin poly.

Article Written By: Capstone Painting Company

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