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Thread: Refinishing home cabinets - need help

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
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    Exeter, CA
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    252

    Refinishing home cabinets - need help

    I have lots of rather nice plywood cabinetry in my 3500 sq ft home. They are located in bathrooms, kitchen, bedrooms, etc. As you can see, they look like the plywood was rotary cut on the face and stained with a clear top coat. (Colors look different only due to lighting, all look the same in real life.) Some years ago, I refinished some of them in the kitchen as they were showing lots of wear and grease. I tsp'ed them and lightly scuffed them, restained them with Minwax "something" and then brushed on a coat of polyurethane as the finish coat. Whatever they were finished with initially 30 years ago when initially constructed, seemed to be compatible with the new polyurethane. They looked pretty decent when done.

    I would now like to refinish them all and significantly tone down the tiger stripe grain. Looking for a more sophisticated look. I don't want them painted. I know little about refinishing and would really appreciate some input on what I should do to accomplish this "toning down of grain". They are all in need of refinishing due to water spots close to sinks and sun fading. And I have lots (!!!) of them, this will not be a small job. Thanks. Randycabinets to refinish 3 Orchard St. IMG_2723.jpgcabinets to refinish 4 Orchard St. IMG_2725.jpgcabinets to refinish Orchard St. IMG_2722.jpg

  2. #2
    I would start by looking at painted faux finishes. Expensive to hire out but you would find some of them easy to learn.
    Otherwise you get rotary plywood color change.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    WNY
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    5,289
    You can tone down the high contrast of the grain at least three ways, paint them, stain them as dark as the color in the grain or, if you can strip or sand them back to bare wood, you can fill the grain with a neutral grain filler and then refinish.

    John

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    Location
    Exeter, CA
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    As I have already decided against painting them (pretty much), how would I go about staining them darker? I'd have to take off the top coat first somehow - either stripper or sanding - right?

  5. #5
    The only way I know of is strip off the top coat and re stain.

    Massive job!!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    SE PA - Central Bucks County
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    46,377
    If you use a gel stain or similar, you don't necessarily need to take it down to bare wood, but you'll want it very clean and de-glossed. Totally stripping can be a pain if you can't first remove everything and put them in a place that's safe to use a chemical stripper. Not something you want to do inside your home for safety reasons. Take off one door or drawer front some the least visible cabinet and play with this a little...on the inside surface if they are finished the same way, but if not...on the "see surface".
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    Location
    Exeter, CA
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    Think I need to "pick my fights" on this one and maybe hire it out. Get some bids. I've tackled lots of projects in my lifetime but I hate this kind of stuff. And I have so much of it in the house..... When I refinished my front door outside in the fresh air in the fall, my eyes almost swelled shut from some kind of reaction to either the Kleen Stripper or the sanding afterward. I don't want to even take the chance again. Thanks for all the suggestions. Randy

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    Dawson Creek, BC
    Posts
    847
    If you hire it out I would not be shocked if new doors would be in the running cost wise. The slab doors are a piece of cake. Anyone with a wide belt sander will make short order of that. The others will take some time, and the shading that John speaks of takes someone with experience with the spray gun.

    As an example, here is door I was trying out some carving on. I had an old oak scrap door i had been given years ago. It had a thick polyurethane finish, and not much else. I decided to sand it down, carve it, and re-finish. I would not be surprised if I had 2hrs into this door between the time with the stripper, random orbit sanding, and then hand sanding. I would add another 1hr or more in finishing time as well (setup, spray, cleanup...). If I were charged shop rates I am not sure it would make sense to save it, but if you have more shops nearby it could be a different story.

    CabDoor-before.jpgCabDoor.jpg

    Now if you decide to paint it is a different story. One of my brothers decided to try it (we did not agree). Most of us woodworkers think it is crazy to paint nice hardwoods, but it is a very common trend with the current odd total distaste for red oak. It was still a ton of work, but the prep work is much much less. It turned out surprisingly well, and I suppose it is better than throwing the doors away like so many others do when renovating.

    Great fun

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    SE PA - Central Bucks County
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    46,377
    Brad, that was an outstanding transition! Totally "new" door!
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

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