refinishing kitchen cabinets

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by huntress4203, Dec 27, 2006.

  1. huntress4203

    huntress4203 alias mullinaxclan

    Feb 21, 2006
    Western Washington state
    Our kitchen cabinets are still in great shape - just really cruddy with built up grease and dust. We'd like to clean and refinish them as opposed to replacing them but are being told that its a real mess/headache to do so. Has anyone ever done this? What is a safe, non toxic product to use to clean and strip them? Is it really as bad to do as we're being told? We tried Mr.Clean magic erasers today and they worked great but we'll go through too many oif them to do a proper job. Murphy's worked ok for me but Jim doesn't like the smell :shrug: Help!!!! We had a guy come out but when he left it sounded like my entire kitchen would change and be topsy turvy.

  2. TNHermit

    TNHermit Well-Known Member Supporter

    Jul 14, 2005
    East Tenn.
    Can ya get some pics up. You may be able to just wash them down with an orange oil or pinesol and a scrubbie. (nonwoven sandpaper) then use a wiping varnish on them. You can make your own and put it on with a piece of packing foam :) its pretty easy. It will leave a paint thinner oder for a while. Ya gotta give up something to get something :)

  3. kmaproperties

    kmaproperties Well-Known Member

    Jul 6, 2005
    mineral spirits takes off the crud, light sand or steel wool, then poly
  4. COSunflower

    COSunflower Country Girl Supporter

    Dec 4, 2006
    TSP and a scrubbie works good too. Be sure and use rubber gloves because TSP is hard on the hands. It's what I use on walls, cupboards etc. before I primer and paint. You can get it at paint stores or even hardware stores. It's powdered in a box and you just mix it accordingly into warm water. I would give it a rinse with warm water and a sponge after the TSP also.
  5. RoseGarden

    RoseGarden Well-Known Member

    Jun 5, 2005
    Do you know what kind of finish is on your cabinets? If it is a newer finish, like the polyacrylic finishes, my method won't work, but if it's old shellac or varnish, my method might. Let me briefly explain.... My cabinets were nice, very plain but nice quality wood, and rather old. I couldn't afford to get new ones, so I decided one day to refinish them. I didn't want to use furniture stripper or paint thinner because of the odor and chemical mess, so I decided to SAND the finish off, down to bare wood. I got about 3/4 of the way through the project and got to the doors that were over the stovetop, which were very greasy. I tried some plain rubbing alcohol to remove the grease, and wouldn't you know it, it stripped the finish right down to bare wood. Oh, I howled! I had made an absolute mess of the place with all that sanding dust even though I had closed the doors and put drop cloths on everything. Had I know alcohol would have stripped the cabinets, I would have opted to do that instead. I did finish the chore with denatured alcohol and a bunch of paper towels and rags, and those parts of the cabinets came out just as nice as what I had sanded. OH, what a waste of time and effort.

    Maybe you can see if alcohol would strip your cabinets like it did mine. Someone told me it was either shellack or varnish, but I can't recall which.
  6. Spinner

    Spinner Well-Known Member

    Jul 19, 2003
    I refinished mine 2 years ago. It made a huge difference! Here's how I did it, and things I'd do different if I was going to do it again. Mine are solid wood with brass hardware.

    1. took the doors down and removed hinges & handles
    2. used a vibrating sander to sand the framework.
    3. took the doors outside and sanded them.
    4. sprayed them with polyurthane clear varnish
    5. painted the framework
    5. painted hinges and handles, put them back on
    6. put the doors back up and was finished

    It took me about 3 weeks, but I was learning as I did it. I didn't work a long time and was using the kitchen at the time, so I had to clean up several times a day and knock off to fix meals.

    Now what I would do different.

    I would not have painted.
    I would not have sprayed with clear varnish.
    I should have bought new handles and hinges.
    The vibrating sander took FOREVER to get all the old gunk off them. I think I used about 2 sheets of sandpaper per door. I now have a belt sander and will use it if I redo them.

    I would have used a good wood oil and rubbed the oil into the wood. Buff it out and keep the wood natural. I missed 2 of the doors when I varnished. I oiled them and they look much better than the varnished ones. Now I just wax them like you do fine furniture and it keeps them looking like new.

    I may take them down again and resand the varnished ones so I can oil them. I'll also resand the framework and oil it if I do the doors.

    I wish I would have took pics of before & after. It's amazing how it makes the kitchen look like I spent a million bucks on it. My dark dreary cabinets are now light and bright. It makes the whole kitchen a more cheerful place to be.

    ETA: I just read RoseGarden's post about the rubbing alcohol working. What a great discovery! I sure wish I'da tried that before I did all that sanding and especially before I put the new poly spray stuff on them.