If you enjoy working on relatively small projects, perhaps you should research furniture renovation. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to be an expert joiner to restore pieces to a reasonable condition, or to transform the look of them. Of course, if you come across an antique piece that you suspect might be worth thousands, I advise you to leave the restoration to the experts.

An old chair is the perfect project to start. You often find that the upholstery is ragged, and the structure is rickety. Here are a few tips to help you turn it into a useful item of furniture that you can keep or sell; that is up to you.

Remove the upholstery. You can use a selection of screwdrivers and some pliers to pull the old tacks out. Make sure that you remove them all, or you might injure yourself on bits of metal as you work.

When you have with only the frame, you must strip it of the old coating, whatever it may be. There are two options.

  • Buy a can of paint stripper and do the job yourself. You must apply it with a brush and wait for an hour or so for it to work on the varnish or paint. Then you use a scraper to remove it and reveal the wood. It is often necessary to repeat the process two or more times. You must wear protective clothing, gloves, and a face mask at all times when using caustic products.
  • Send the piece away where the experts will dip it into a tank of chemicals to remove the coating. They will return it to you in a clean condition. It doesn’t cost much and presents no danger to you.

I think you can guess my preferred method to strip oak furniture. Why make the job more difficult than it needs to be?
You need to tackle the loose joints that hold the sections of the chair together. The best way is to use a hammer and a block of wood to separate them. When they are apart, try to remove the old glue from the tenons with a chisel. You can buy hot melt wood glue from gluegunsdirect.com and lots of other places. It is ideal for this project because it will set quicker than PVA. Apply a liberal coating to the mortise and tenon and reassemble the joint. Clamp the pieces together until the glue is dry.

Spray guns don’t cost a lot of money, and they do a splendid job when you re-varnish the frame. They leave no brush marks or runs, so I advise you to buy one and learn how to use it. It will serve you well in your new hobby. You might need to thin the coating with some white spirit for it to spray well; that will come with experience.

The frame is now ready to take the new upholstery. If you are not a fashion guru, ask your partner for advice. It will be a shame to spoil all of your hard work with the application of a horrible material. Buy an electric staple gun to make the job easy.

As you restore pieces, your skill and knowledge will grow. Some people who took up this hobby went on to make a living from it. You could achieve that one day if you work hard and learn. It will always bring in some cash on the side when you sell the fruits of your labour. That is a fantastic result.