DIY / Furniture / woodworking

How to restore an antique without refinishing.

In the last year, I have tried no less than 3 pieces of furniture in our foyer. After my most recent Facebook Marketplace purchase, I have finally found “the one”.

However, my perfectly sized and dream style buffet was inexpensive because of the condition it was in.

scratched buffet gets restored

It had some pretty deep scratches and scuffs on the top. The rest of the piece is in very good condition, but the top was in such a state that it probably should be refinished.

While I might consider refinishing it in the future, I just did not want to dedicate the time needed for a bigger project like this right now. I wanted to simply restore it.

My mom has highly recommended this product to me for years and in one of my recent trips home to Louisiana, she sent me home with several bottles. She actually sells quite a bit of these products in her booth at an antique store.

I have used it to revive several antiques now. But when I shared what I did on my Instagram Stories recently, y’all definitely wanted to know more! So, I thought it was worth writing a blog post about.

This is not a sponsored post. I just really love this product. This post contains affiliate links.

This china cabint was in excellent condition but was I would call “thirsty”. I used some of the Howard’s to darken the finish slightly.

I have a full recap video from my popular Instagram Stories below.

How to use Howard’s Restor-A-Finish to restore antique furniture without refinishing.

before Restor a finish
  • Begin by cleaning the antique furniture with a soft cloth dampened with soap and water. Dry thoroughly.
  • If the piece has a shiny finish, you can consider wiping it down with a Liquid Sanding Deglosser. I have also done this in order to darken a piece of furniture with fairly good results. You won’t achieve a whole new look, but it can help take an overly red or orange tone down a notch.
wear gloves when using restor a finish
  • The directions on the bottle say to use fine steel wool to apply the liquid if your piece of furniture has deep scratches. That is what I did. If you are trying to achieve the same color of finish, use the stain that most matches your piece. It comes in about 9 different finishes.
Use a fine steel wool to buff out scratches
  • Once the Howard’s is worked in really well, dry and remove excess with a rag or paper towel. You might have to repeat drying and wiping a couple of times.
  • The directions also say to finish the piece with Howard’s Feed and Wax. I will do this in a couple of days to let the Restor-a-finish soak in thoroughly. Adding the wax will protect the finish and can be used to clean it periodically.

Using Howard’s Brass Polish to restore brass knobs and handles.

If you would like to restore the beautiful luster of original brass hardware, try the Howard’s Pine-Ola Copper and Brass Polish. I have never seen anything work like this with such ease.

  • Remove the hardware from the antique and clean with soap and water.
Polish brass easily with Pine Ola
  • Using an old toothbrush, scrub the Howard’s Pine-Ola Copper and Brass Polish into the handle or knob. (Or anything brass or copper)
  • I like to scrub all of the pieces and then wiping off the polish the buff it until it shines.
  • Clean with soap and water and dry thoroughly.
Clean brass easily

Be sure to check out the complete line of Howard’s Wood Products. I have yet to find one I didn’t like.

I love that these products help restore an antique, while keeping it’s original finish intact. Scratches, white heat rings, watermarks, smoke damage and sun fade nearly disappear with the Restore-A-Finish.

Looking for more inspiration? One of my favorite refinishing projects also involved some clever woodworking. I transformed a bed into a desk! Click on the image below.


  • Julie
    August 31, 2020 at 7:44 am

    WOW~ this is awesome and what a beautiful piece. I think I’ve heard of this product……….love the transformation of the twin bed to a table! How creative you are!!

  • Linda Johnston
    August 31, 2020 at 3:49 pm

    Thank you for this post! I have several pieces that need this! My auction find bedroom furniture from years ago is so sad right now. Hope this helps it out.

  • Annie
    December 16, 2021 at 9:39 am

    I just purchased my first antique buffet with the intention of restoring it with Howard products rather than sanding and restaining entirely. That said, if I want to help darken the wood and dull down some of the orange tone, would you recommend using a darker Howard restore color? It looks like you used the Ebony color and I’d love to know if it significantly changed the color.

    • Leslie
      December 19, 2021 at 4:18 pm

      It changes it only slightly, but I have found it’s been enough to tone down orange or red that was before offensive.

  • Hope
    April 19, 2022 at 10:32 am

    Do you think this product would work on midcentury pieces too? 🙂

  • Jamie
    May 18, 2022 at 3:33 pm

    What is the name of the wall color?

  • Karen
    July 30, 2022 at 9:51 am

    I used this on a dining room set. It worked great on the chairs and table legs but I feel like it leaves a film on the table. I assume this will reduce with ware and use. Do you recommend a polish or anything for periodic cleaning?

    • Leslie
      August 5, 2022 at 8:07 am

      You should wipe off any excess about 5 minutes after applying. I’m fairly certain it says to do so in the directions. I just use a microfiber cloth to dust and reapply when needed. Maybe once a year??

  • devon
    November 3, 2023 at 4:36 pm

    Hi. Thanks for the post. I’m curious how much you purchased this for. I have the exact same buffet table and was thinking of selling it and was looking for any information on it. I only have a serial number. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

    • Leslie
      January 24, 2024 at 3:11 pm

      It’s been a while, but I think it was about $250. It was at an antique store in a rural area. Depending on where you live it is probably on the lower end. Other than the scratches on the top, it was in excellent condition.


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