How to do DIY

Restoring wooden furniture

While many people are happy to tackle DIY jobs like sanding floors, painting walls and stripping wallpaper, the idea of making furniture is a step too far. And probably rightly so.

After all, it's not easy to make a table that stands steadily or chairs that are strong enough to support your weight. It would also take the average person ages! You're better off buying a cheap dining table and chairs. You'll end up with something far more functional and attractive than you would by doing it yourself.

Restore furniture yourself

However, another way round this is to restore furniture yourself. This is a whole different proposition, and can be a way of getting really nice pieces of furniture cheaply, but also comes with the satisfaction that your own effort has made them look so nice.

Start off by looking round at bric-a-brac sales or car boot fairs. If you can’t find what you&'re looking for there, go to some antique fairs - but only look out for things that have not yet been restored.

Once you've got your old piece of furniture home, clear a space to work in the garage or shed and start to remove the layers of grease and grime that will be on the wood. The best way to do this without damaging the wood is to use store cupboard ingredients - olive oil and vinegar. Vinegar is the cleaning agent - it will lift the grease and dirt out of the wood, and oil acts as a lubricant to feed and nourish the wood. All wood dries out over time, so oil is a good way of bringing back the wood's natural shine.

Mix a cup of olive oil to half a cup of white vinegar, and apply on a cotton cloth. As you work the mixture into the wood, you will see the cloth picking up the dirt - it'll gradually go black. Change the cloth regularly so you're not just putting the dirt back in. Repeat the process until the cloth stays clean - and then buff the wood to a shine.

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