This Article is About
furniture
marine spar varnish
grit sandpaper
weather elements
water stains
scratch marks
rubber gloves
Koa Furniture
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When my mother moved to the mainland, I was the only family member left living in Hawaii. She took most of her belongings. There were three bulky items she had to leave behind. Those items were a koa coffee table, a koa chair, an a koa sofa. These are priceless family heirlooms. These three pieces of furniture have been in my family for generations.

They were from a by-gone era, the 30's and 40's. The problem was, they looked distressed, with water stains, discoloration, old chipped varnish everywhere. Being an experienced furniture refinisher, I knew I had a big job on my hands.

The first thing I had to do was strip off all the old varnish, which is a very nasty job. If the paint stripper gets on your skin it can just eat your skin. Stripping off all that old varnish is the hardest part of this project. Rubber gloves are a must. A long sleeve shirt and jeans are good protective clothing.

The next step is sanding. There are actually several steps to sanding. You can start out with either 80 grit, or 100 grit sandpaper. Use a orbital sander. This type of sander doesn't leave scratch marks from sanding like other types of sanders. Belt sanders , for instance.

After you get most of the water stains, discolorations, flaws in the wood, you can switch to the next grit, 120 grit. After the 120 grit, you can switch to 150 grit or 180 grit. When you reach this stage, the wood will feel a lot smoother,not rough or fuzzy.

The last grit you will sand with would be 200 grit. By this stage, you're pretty much ready for varnishing.

Since I knew these three pieces were going on my patio, I decided to use exterior marine spar varnish. This kind of varnish can stand up to the weather elements. I have a canopy on my patio, so the furniture had that protection, but I still wanted my furniture to have the best possible protection.

After each coat of marine spar varnish, I sanded the furniture with 200 grit sandpaper, to get rid of the fuzz, and give the furniture a smoother finish. I ended up with three coats of varnish. Let the last coat dry completely, I'd say let it dry and cure for at least 24 hours. That way, you know the finish is safe to touch and handle.

This project took me about three weeks to complete. But it was well worth it. I now have furniture that I can enjoy for many years, maybe even pass them on to the next generation.

Just a sidenote, koa wood is indigenous to Hawaii. It's found nowhere else in the world. It's also on the Endangered Species Register. This makes koa wood furniture even more valuable.


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