Easy How To Raw Wood Furniture Finish

I’ve always loved the look of raw wood furniture and the charm of the farmhouse feel. With sandpaper and a little elbow grease, you can turn your antique pieces into a style you can incorporate into your modern farmhouse and preserve the natural beauty without painting. Read on…

This post contains a few affiliate links to help you find the products I use. You are not charged extra to use any of the links, but any income I make will be used for more fun projects! To see my full disclaimer, click here.

How To Get A Raw Wood Furniture Look

I can't believe how easy it was to get a raw wood furniture look by just sanding down the existing finish.It’s been 38 years since my Mom purchased this for me. I was 16 years old at the time and the furniture bug had already bit me hard. I begged Mom to buy this for me. I’m sure it shocked her that I had even asked. The price tag was $75 (that was a lot of money back then) and I just knew that Mom would say no. To my surprise, she said yes and I was a happy girl. I was the proud owner of my first piece of furniture. Through the years it has followed me from home to home and it has lived in the guest rooms where I knew it would be safe. I’ve always wanted to paint it, but for some reason, it didn’t happen. Now I know why. 

Product List:

Getting The Raw Wood Furniture Look

If you love the raw wood furniture look, try sanding down an old piece and see what you get. I was amazed! I had done this raw wood furniture finish once before on an old armoire, but it had been painted. That involved stripping. This was way easier! I didn’t even know how old this piece was, but the varnish had turned almost black. That’s a sign of a very old piece. The drawers were dovetailed and it was as solid as it was 35 years ago and it was old then. This was the perfect piece for this makeover.

An electric sander is a must when you're sanding an existing finish down to get a raw wood furniture look. I started my project with my electric Orbital Sander and a 180 grit sandpaper. Carefully I sanded all of the surfaces that I could reach. The old varnish sanded down easy on the top surfaces but underneath where it was more protected was a bit harder. I changed out the pad frequently to keep it from gumming up on the pads. When sanding, I was careful not to sand all of the old varnishes off. Just enough to see the raw wood. I left some areas with the old varnish to add a character that only an existing aged finish could give. 

Using The Right Tools For A Raw Wood Furniture Finish

I used my Dremel tool with a sanding attachment to get in the corners where my orbital sander missed. The raw wood furniture finish on this piece will be a show stopper for sure!The corners and tight areas would have to have another tool to get into those tight areas. For these areas, I used my Dremel Tool. It came with a triangle sanding head and pads. It worked like magic. The raw wood furniture finish was starting to come together! I left a bit of the old darkened varnish in the cracks and around the inside of the corners. It almost looked like someone had glazed it in the corners. Nice!

I used my Dremel tool with a sanding attachment to get in the corners where my orbital sander missed. The raw wood furniture finish on this piece will be a show stopper for sure!

Cleaning The Raw Wood After Sanding

Denatured alcohol was used to remove the leftover dust from sanding down to the barewood. It cleans and evaporates quickly so that I can move to the next step in creating a raw wood furniture finish on this old piece.

The surfaces were carefully cleaned with denatured alcohol. The alcohol evaporates quickly and doesn’t add moisture to the wood. This was necessary to remove all the leftover dust from all the sanding. I used a paper towel but probably should have used a cotton cloth. 

Touching Up The Stain

I used Old Master Gel Stain in dark walnut to match the existing finish on this vanity dresser. It was a great compliment to the raw wood furniture finish.On the areas I chose not to sand, I added Old Masters Dark Walnut gel stain with a piece of cheesecloth. It covered all the scuffed areas on the existing finish beautifully.

How To Seal Raw Wood Furniture

I sealed this raw wood furniture piece with Dixie Belle's Gator Hide. It's a strong durable waterproof finish that will protect this old beauty for years to come. To seal the raw wood furniture finish and to protect it, I used Dixie Belle’s Gator Hide. Typically I would use this product over painted surfaces, but it worked great on the raw wood. Brushing it on with a soft paintbrush and not to overwork it was key as it dries quickly. The wood drank up the Gator Hide and when it had dried, the finish was smooth and beautiful.

The Natural Beauty of Raw Wood Furniture

The natural beauty of raw wood furniture. A great way to update an old finish.

The natural beauty of raw wood furniture. It was so easy to create this look.It’s funny how things play out over time. This project could have gone a whole other direction had I not just waited for the right time. Although I love to paint, not everything needs paint. I hope Mom likes it. 🙂
The natural beauty of raw wood furniture is a show stopper and a great way to add a modern element to antique furniture.Hey, thanks for stopping by! What do you think? Would you try this Raw Wood Furniture Finish on your antiques? If you loved this makeover… Check this one out! I did a similar piece last year but it had been painted. I had to strip it! It was so worth it. CLICK HERE to see the Raw Wood Armoire Makeover.

Until the next project… xo, Do

14 replies
  1. Denise
    Denise says:

    It’s so nice that you’ve kept this sentimental piece for all these years. It looks beautiful Do… and I’m sure will be in great shape for another 38 yrs! 🙂

  2. Donna Dodson
    Donna Dodson says:

    Thanks Denise! I’m gonna try to keep it as long as I can. I feel a room makeover coming soon. All because I did a furniture makeover. It’s how we roll, right?

    xo, Do

  3. Lauren Williams
    Lauren Williams says:

    Dear Ms. Dodson,

    Your work on the piece is wonderful – I can literally see the shine even in the photo. So PLEASE, this question isn’t a criticism, it’s ignorance looking for information. Let’s say the piece had been a valuable antique. Does the kind of work you did on it destroy its monetary value? It was altered rather than cleaned/restored? When I ask this question, in the back of my mind is family lore about the day my father found an extremely valuable bronze statue… except it had been stripped of the bronze finish, and gilded. It was then worthless. And my in-laws are antiques dealers, and my parents collect some kinds of antiques. Best wishes, Lauren

  4. Donna Dodson
    Donna Dodson says:

    Hi Lauren!
    Excellent question and one to ponder. Had this piece been in great shape, I would not have painted it. However I do understand what you are saying. My customers want painted furniture and pay the value of the antique piece even after it has been painted. With that said, I can’t speak on the behalf of other furniture painters, but not everyone sees value in these antique pieces. Styles have definitely changed and these antiques will become ever rarer as time goes on.

    I have refinished many pieces but even that from what I know depreciates the value of the original finish. So what do you do? In my heart I know we can’t save everything forever, so why not enjoy it painted, refinished, or in it original skin as long as we can. It’s like my Grandma’s old quilts. She told me to use them and not to let them go to waste. A few of them are beyond repair, but I am re-purposing them into other pieces of home decor so that I may continue to enjoy them and pass them down to my children and grands.

    I hope this helps and I appreciate you asking me. I really love what I do and do my best to save these old pieces so they don’t end up in the landfills.

    Blessings to you and yours. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *