How to Refinish Cherry Furniture

wood cherry bedroom image by Dumitrescu Ciprian from

Things You'll Need

  • Mild soap
  • Water
  • Clean towels
  • Palm sander
  • Sandpaper
  • Paintbrush
  • Washcoat
  • Gel stain, furniture oil or clear shellac
  • Rags

Cherry wood furniture has an intense depth of color and variation. Refinishing cherry furniture can result in blotching. However, this is largely a question of preference. Some people like the appearance of furniture with blotches, while others prefer the cherry finish in its more natural state.

Thoroughly clean furniture with mild soap and water. Keep a dry towel on hand to wipe up the water as you go. Never leave water on the surface of your natural wood furniture.

Sand off the original finish using a palm sander. Attach fine grit sand paper to the electric palm sander and work with gentle pressure in a circular motion. Using fine grit sand paper will prevent scratches. Use loose sheets of sand paper and sand by hand to remove finish from areas the sander can't reach. Continue until you are left with bare wood.

Wipe away all sanding dust with a damp rag.

Apply washcoat with a brush. A washcoat will prevent your stain from soaking deeper into certain parts of your wood than others. Mix the washcoat according to the manufacturer's directions. Allow it to dry completely.

Sand the washcoat by hand with 220-grit or higher sandpaper. Sand lightly to avoid removing too much of the wash coat. Wipe away sanding dust with a damp rag.

Use a clean rag to apply gel stain or oil, wiping away any excess with a clean rag. You can also apply a clear shellac.


  • Stains bring out the wood's grain and add depth, but also alter the color of the wood. Oils deepen the finish. Shellac adds a protective layer to furniture without changing the natural color of the wood.


About the Author

Lisa East Hunter is a consultant and freelance writer in Phoenix. Her background in marketing and technology led her to explore all avenues of writing. She is currently dividing her time between freelance writing and her consulting business. Hunter has a Bachelor of Science in management information systems and marketing.

Photo Credits

  • wood cherry bedroom image by Dumitrescu Ciprian from