Wooden Bookcase Restoration

Keen to do a d.i.y. Wooden Bookcase restoration?

I was too, which is why when my father-in-law offered an old bookcase to me he wasn’t using, I jumped at the idea of spending some time out in the summer sun restoring it.

This was my first furniture restoration so i was quite excited, despite some friends warning it might not be worth all the hours spent sanding and painting. I was also keen to spend some money buying the proper tools and supplies so that I could use the same supplies again on ‘future’ furniture restorations and save money in the long run (luckily this has been true for me).

Wooden Bookcase Before & After

Restoring this old wooden bookcase was just what i expected it to be, as I had done some extensive research on the idea which gave me a good insight into what I was about undergo. It was a positive experience for me that paid off in the end and well worth the roughly 26 hours it took me (I did it all in one week while on holidays).

This wooden bookcase restoration I found to be simple and cost less than I thought but required patience and a high attention to detail. For my final product I wanted a classy, simple look that would match with just about any furniture I might have in the future.

I realised at the end, you get out of it what you put into it, so I’m glad that at every stage I went that extra mile to perfect my handiwork. Here is how I went about restoring an old wooden bookcase just in the backyard.

urniture bookshelf renovation

1. First things first, I had to buy some supplies and tools. So after measuring the size of the bookcase, I headed off to Bunnings Hardware Store (with my father-in-law). I ended up buying my first ever electric sander ($30), some different grades of sand paper, a cork block, antique white water-based enamel paint, a tin of dark tinted wood stain, some painter’s masking tape for painting the edges, and some semi-professional paint brushes. It is important to know what type of wood you are dealing with before you just pick the paint and/or stain off the shelf.

2. Next I had to remove some old stickers and chewing gum with some hot soapy water, clear away cob webs and wipe down all the surfaces with a damp cloth to remove the dirt as best I could.

furniture bookshelf restoratio

3. The wooden bookcase had some splitting on the bottom legs that it stands on, which needed attention. To fix this I decided to fill in the cracks with ‘Selleys Aquadhere’ glue. This needed to dry for 24 hours.

wooden bookcase diy

4. Finally we are up to sanding: be prepared to get dusty so wear old clothes, a face mask and goggles. All the large surfaces were done with the electric sander and inside the shelves and corners were sanded by hand. The first layer of sanding was to remove the old staining so it was a very course grading, 80, which I did all over. The next layer of sanding was grade 120, which I did on all surfaces but the back. The final layer of sanding was grade 240 and this I did on all the surfaces facing up and the front edges.

wooden bookshelf diy

5. The painting can begin once all the surfaces have been wiped down again with a damp cloth to remove the dust AND all the edges have been lined with masking tape. I started with the antique white paint. Two coats of antique white paint were used with at least 24 hours drying time after each. Tip: if you are unsure, start with the back or side surfaces that aren’t as important to give yourself practice on your painting technique.diy bookcase tutorial

wood bookcase staining

6. Remove all the masking tape carefully, wipe down the surfaces again and begin painting on the dark tinted stain. Make sure the stain is mixed well before starting. I used a ‘clean’ cloth to apply generously as it dries very quickly. It is important to get an even coverage and work in the same direction as the grain. Then I waited 5 minutes for the stain to absorb (the longer you leave it the darker it will become). Then I decided I wanted it darker so I applied another coat of stain in the same manner (it’s easier to add on more stain than take it off).

7. Then I let this all dry for a few days before transporting it to our new house.

I am still considering whether I will paint over the top of it with a protective top coat but haven’t yet.

wood bookshelf makeover

I hope this was an easy wooden bookcase restoration tutorial to follow. As you can see, it takes time, but I was glad to smash it out in one week. The final product was everything I hoped it would be and it sits proudly in my family room.

Don’t be afraid to ask any questions and please check out some more recent projects I have done. ( diy park bench, file cabinet, coffee table, chest of drawers, Canvas photo print)

2 Comments on “Wooden Bookcase Restoration

  1. Well!!! What a brilliant work niece. I very much love it how you did it. It looks fantastic . By the way you should be working on TV doing furniture decorations tho in the that show call Block. Better still you should run or start a business or open one up. You make me fell like pulling out my quilt I had in the linen shelf for 7 years and work on finishing up. I’m so proud of you. You and Preston are on fire in handling the tools!!1 Well Done .

  2. That’s awesome Mim! I also bought my first electric sander a couple of years back when I re-finished a small entry table. It, uh, has not been used by me since… LoL. But I have some chairs for Anastasia I have been meaning to sand and re-stain so I must get onto them.

Leave a Reply