Easy Steps to Refinish a Cedar Chest

Cedar chests are prized by homeowners because of their natural beauty and durability. In some families, cedar chests are precious family heirlooms that have been passed down for decades. However, as they move from household to household and generation to generation, cedar chests may get worn, scratched or coated in paint and other finishes. Refinishing a cedar chest brings back the natural beauty of the wood and can be accomplished in a couple of easy steps.


Remove all hardware in the torso. Alternatively, if you can’t eliminate the hardware, then cover it with painter’s tape.

Put on a painter’s mask, safety glasses and rubber gloves before you begin stripping the old finish.

Set the torso to a plastic sheet or a drop cloth. If you are working indoors, open a window or use fans to make certain you have good ventilation when dealing with chemicals and wood dust.

Strip the Old Finish

Employ a chemical paint stripper to the exterior of the torso, using a paintbrush. Work in tiny segments and allow the stripper to sit down on the wood until the finish starts to bubble. Alternatively, if there is little to no finish on the wood, move to the sanding.

Scrape the softened finish away, using a paint scraper. Work carefully to avoid gouging the wood.

Sand the wood with fine-grit sandpaper to smooth the surface and to eliminate any traces of finish that stay.

Apply New Finish

Apply stain to the exterior of the torso, using a paintbrush. Work in sections, applying the stain first and then wiping off the excess with a soft fabric.

Repeat application of the stain whether the colour is too light, until you attain the intensity of color you desire. Allow the stain to dry immediately.

Apply at least 2 coats of a clear sealer, such as varnish, to safeguard the cedar from stains and moisture.

Allow the torso to dry immediately. Replace or reinstall the hardware.

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