Finishing (and Re-Finishing) Wood

Today, my goal is to de-bunk the myth that finishing (or re-finishing) wood is difficult.  I whipped the project below out in a day.  Obviously, that time will vary with the complexity of your project, but it is entirely possible to finish (or re-finish) a wood project in a short period of time.

For my project today, I selected a hair brush.  It’s an odd choice, I know, but here’s how it came to pass.  I bought a hair brush a few years ago, but the bristles were too short to make it through my hair, meaning that I would have to brush the topside of my hair…and then the underside…and then twist my head in all sorts of funny angles to get the hair in the middle.  So, I ordered this new hairbrush for myself because I got tired of the old one.  I love the new hairbrush; it’s perfect for me.  I still liked the old brush, too, and it worked well (by halves or thirds for me) and didn’t really want to get rid of it, so I decided to give it to Gwyn since her locks are still thin, but growing longer and in need of some management (see how cute they are when they’re tame):


The problem was that the stain and finish on the old brush were work and chipped, so I wanted it to look pretty again before giving it to her.  So, today I’m going to show you how to re-finish a hairbrush; however, the same principles used here can be applied to any old or new wood piece (for the latter, simply skip the step where we remove the old stain and finish).


Sand Paper, Coarse and Fine Grit

Lint-Free Cloths (or an old T-shirt, cut into small squares)

1-4 Pairs of Disposable Gloves

Minwax Stain (color of your choice, I used “Red Mahogany” because it closely matched the old color of stain)

Minwax Wipe-On Polyurethane (“Satin” or “Gloss“)

Well Ventilated Area


1.  Remove all the old stain and finish from your project using coarse grit sand paper.  You can either do this by hand or using an orbital sander.  I started by hand, became impatient and moved to the orbital sander.  Once all the stain and finish are removed, switch to the fine grit sandpaper to achieve a smooth surface.  With a damp, lint-free cloth, wipe off the sawdust and let your project dry completely.

HB_unfinished_2  HB_unfinished

2.  Move to a well ventilated area.  Put on a pair of disposable gloves (I used the same pair throughout this project, but you can put new ones on at each step if you prefer).  Wipe the Minwax stain onto your project in a uniform layer, not too thick and not too thin.  I usually get my cloth barely damp and rub until it looks uniform to me.  The project should not be dripping wet nor will it be completely dry at this point, just evenly damp in wetness and evenly uniform in color.  Let the stain dry for 4 hours in your well ventilated area; reapply a second coat, if desired using the same procedure (and let dry for 4 hours again).  (Note: I usually apply 2 coats of stain, this project included.)


3.  Keeping your project in your well ventilated area.  Put on a pair of disposable gloves again.  This time, wipe the Minwax polyurethane onto your project in a uniform layer using a lint free cloth, again, not too thick and not too thin.  Choose the “Gloss” version if you’d like your finished product to be glossy/shiny; and the “Satin” version if you’d like it to be satin/matte.  Gloss would have been a better choice for my project here, but Satin is what I had on hand (and I can always add a coat or two of Gloss later).  In any case, let the polyurethane dry for 2 hours in your well ventilated area; reapply second and third coats, if desired using the same procedure (and letting dry for 2 hours in between each coat).  (Note: I usually apply 3 coats of polyurethane, this project included.)  Wait 24 hours before resuming normal use.

Note, if the stain or finish get on anything like your countertop or skin, lemon essential oils works great at helping to get it off.  Since they are both oil-based products, you’ll need something oil-like to remove them.  And, lemon essential oil is the healthiest and most natural option I know of.

HB_finish HB_finishing

4.  That’s it!  See how easy that was!  I hope that myth was easily de-bunked and now we can all say in unison “Refinishing wood is EASY!”

HB_finished_02 HB_finished


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