Picks and Pans Review: Better Homes and Gardens: Refinishing Furniture

updated 11/07/1988 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 11/07/1988 AT 01:00 AM EST

So you think refinishing furniture is an easy two-step process, huh? Hah! Wait till you see this meticulous hour-long tape. Brent Webster, a craftsman from Des Moines, restores an oak rocking chair, a seven-step process done the Webster way. (His credentials are provided neither on the tape nor in the accompanying booklet, so Webster's advice has to be taken on faith.) One of the primary purposes of this video, he says, is to "learn what the wood should look like at each stage so you can tell if you're ready to go on to the next step." The most important phase is stripping. He determines which stripper will dissolve the finish by testing different kinds on a small area. Next comes the filler stage to smooth over imperfections, followed by staining, sealing, top coating (three layers) and two coats of wax. "The most valuable protection you can give furniture is a good waxing," says Webster, who also shows how to repair minor scratches and water rings. This is a well-polished video that should negate any fears you have of attacking that old table or chest of drawers. The six-tape Better Homes series also includes Foolproof Flowerbeds and Cooking Made Microwave Easy. (Home Video Library, $19.95, 800/678-2665)



Lack of preparation and planning is the biggest gaffe when it comes to problems that beset the novice handyperson. Home-improvement videos like this one from the producers of the PBS series The Do It Yourself Show are valuable because they allow you to visualize the whole process before you start. There are 35 volumes in this series, covering the how-to-do basics from carpentry to home security. On these two half-hour tapes, host Avian Rogers, a remodeler and cabinetmaker, and her different co-hosts offer useful, step-by-step information and have fun in the process. After Paint & Wallpaper co-host Curt Burbick suggests hammering holes into the top rim of a paint can so the paint that's usually trapped there will drip back into the can, Rogers says, "That's something I wished I'd learned years ago—how to handle drips." So maybe she's not Woody Allen, but at least the jokes break things up. For wallpapering, they favor the prepasted kind because it's much easier to unpeel if you redecorate. To remove old wallpaper they recommend renting a steamer. There's something they don't explain how to do on the second tape, however—remove unwanted tile. They just assume you're starting with a clean slate. And while they make the tiling process seem as if anybody could do it, they go over most people's heads when they talk about how to put a tile top on a vanity. Don't worry about taking notes or trying to remember everything: Each tape comes with a detailed pamphlet. (D.I.Y./Sunset, $19.95 each; 704/342-9608)

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