Easy Vintage Wood Refinishing

Happy Valentine's Day!

On a completely unrelated note, here's a really easy vintage wood refinishing project I did yesterday that took all of 15 minutes of work for some awesome results.  See for yourself:

I was working with a couple simple wood candle holders and a set of four beautiful modern knives;  I picked both of these up at Savers on separate occasions for practically nothing, but the wood on both was in pretty tired condition.  As you can see on the left, they turned out freaking gorgeous, and if you couldn't tell, I'm rather excited about it.

My tools:  a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser, which I actually found at the Salvation Army in its original plastic  for less than a dollar, and some Wisconsin Hardwoods Wood Oil, which we picked up awhile ago for a  project like this that never actually happened.

I got the idea to use the magic eraser from Young House Love, where they used a magic eraser to clean up a thrifted mid century dresser.  It works great as a very light abrasive and cleans the wood at the same time.  You just wet the sponge, and scrub the wood down for a minute or two.

The next and final step is putting a little wood oil on a soft cloth (or paper towel), and rubbing it into the wood.  I just smoothed it all out, rubbed off any extra oil, and BOOM:

It's seriously that easy.  Aren't the results amazing?  I had no idea a little wood oil could do so much...

The difference on the candle holders is a little more subtle, but still awesome.  I only had two, so I couldn't show all three steps in one photo, but you can see how the wood went from dry and light, to luminous and rich, bringing out the wood grain in a great way.

Then of course I had to bust out our favorite staging item, an air plant, to show off the final product.  These shapely knives have a rich chocolate brown color and are soft and smooth to the touch.

Lovely and lovely.

And that's it!  Really easy, and definitely recommended for any wood pieces that need a little touch up.

What do you think of the results?  Have you ever tried refinishing old wood?  Do you have anything lying around you might try this method on?


  1. Ooo, looks so good! Great tip about the magic eraser. I just had some fun bringing a Danish modern teak tray back to life with teak oil. I could not believe the makeover!


    1. Thanks! Your teak tray came out great, too! I was absolutely amazed at how much of a difference the oil made, too.

  2. Thanks so much for sharing! I have plenty of wood pieces that could use some refreshing, now I know where to start!

  3. Wow, that is amazing! I would have never thought to use one of those Magic Erasers on wood... You got great results! I'm gonna try it on a few Pyrex cradle handles.

  4. Wow, I would be excited too! Really great tip. I never would have thought to use a magic erasure on wood. Thanks

  5. ooo, i'd love to find one of those magic earsers - never heard of it. there's a lot of vintage wood in this house that I'd love to bring back to their heyday shine! love those candle holders especially. great post!

  6. Hi Julia, I always think that I should share my cleaning and fixing tips. It is a great idea to do so in your blog. Just a comment on the oil you are using, if cleaning items that are going to be used for food consumption you should only use mineral oil, the kind they sell to feed your wood cutting board. Other oils used for furniture and floors contain ingredients that should not be part or your diet!
    Hope you don't mind my pointing this out.

    1. Hi Beatriz,
      Definitely a good point for people to keep in mind! The oil we used is actually called mineral oil on the back and is labeled as food safe and for use on cutting boards, but it is definitely a little confusing that it is just called "wood oil" on the front of the bottle. Thanks for clarifying for anyone else considering using this technique!


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