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Posted May 2003

Cabinet Refinishing Project

In December 2002 we started the project of refinishing our cabinets in our house.   They include cabinets in three bathrooms, the kitchen and an utility area that we call the Center.   All the cabinets are of the same manufacurer and style.   Estimated total linear length of the cabinets is 69 feet.

Kitchen Old

These are the kitchen cabinets just before refinishing.

ORIGINAL CONDITION:

The cabinets are the original ones installed by the contractor when the house was built in 1980.   They are the common pre-built general contractor grade.   Fiber board on the inside with the face being solid White Oak.   The cabinets have had very little care over the last 22 years.   I do not think they have ever been waxed.   Hence there was a large build up of embedded dirt.

OLD FINISH:

A test showed that the finish was probably lacquer, which would be common.   The stain did not seem to be penetrated into the wood.   Hence was probably mixed in with the first finish coat.   The thickness of the finish coats was very inconsistent.   It also had deep brush marks that sometimes were almost down to the bare wood.   No grain filler was used in the original process.

paneling

BEFORE REFINISH:  A close up of the area below the sink.   This are received a lot of abuse.

PREPARATION:

First all the hardware and doors were removed.   Then the cabinets were scrubbed with #000 steel wool and Palmolive & water.   This lightened up the color and let the grain and brown stain color come out.   Using 400 and 600 grit emery paper they were wet sanded.   In some areas the brush marks could be removed.   In other areas the finish was to thin.   In the thin areas I had to be careful not to sand through the stain, but that did happen.   But there were areas that had to be taken down to bare wood.   The cabinets were then washed with clean water.

Sink new

AFTER REFINISH:  Same area after refinish.   Notice how much lighter the wood is.

TOUCH UP STAIN:

I used Minwax Walnut stain.   This worked good in areas that had minor surface problems.   But where the original stain had been removed it was very difficult to get the stain dark enough to blend in.

FINISH:    Sharon rubbed in two coats of Minwax Tung Oil Finish.   Note that the name is "Tung Oil".   This does not mean that it is pure Tung Oil.   In fact probably contains other oils such as boiled Linseed Oil.

WAX AND MAINTENANCE:    Johnson Paste Wax will be used to maintain the wood.   This will be applied with either cotton rag or #0000 steel wool.

Kitchne new Clear

This is after the refinish in the kitchen.

paneling

A close up of the refinished Center (our utility area) cabinets.

Small Cherry Table

Small Table - Details

Wood Working
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