Howard Restor-A-Finish: Reader reviews

In the recent story about Jessica’s dilemma — to refinish the wood finish vs. just paint her beat-up Heywood-Wakefied — there were lots of comments from readers in praise of Howard’s Restor-A-Finish and Howard’s Beeswax Conditioner. As I understand it: You do not need to strip or sand down your old furniture — just wipe this stuff on it using toweling or super-fine steel wool (see their directions.) I have not used this product myself, but I sure will give it a try next time I have the need. Hmmmm, I have project in mind already — the two side tables in the man cave could definitely use spiffing. Reader comments included:

Atomic Hipster John said:

(I vote) Natural wood whenever possible so the true beauty of wood grain can shine through. Howard’s Restore-a-Finish and Howard’s beeswax conditioner will go a long way to making this piece shine in its formal glory again!!

Clampers said:

I would try to work with the original finish, using a product such as Restore-a-Finish or Formby’s. I have watched too many Antiques Roadshow episodes where people are so disappointed to hear their furniture is worth next to nothing because they stripped and refinished! Anyway, I’ve used those products on several furniture projects and they are a dream to work with…very easy and the results are fantastic…and some of my salvaged furniture was pretty nasty and beat-up.

Eartha Kitsch said:

Ooh! I love this question as I have my owner inner battle in answering it. First, I say that if you think that you might like it unpainted, get some Howard’s restore-a-finish and see what it looks like afterward. You might be really surprised! We’ve brought home some pretty dried out and mistreated pieces around here and even just a simple wipe down with orange oil has yielded results that have amazed us. I mean, it’s not ever going to be showroom new looking unless it’s completely refinished but who says that every piece has to be that way? A little conditioning of the wood might make that set very pretty again.

Becky said:

Min-Wax Antique furniture restore, and Howard’s Feed and Wax will have this brand gorgeous in just one afternoon in your backyard, and for only about $30 ( $15 + $10 + some rubber gloves and 0000 steel wool. ) IF you paint it, it’ll take day and days of hard work to get back to that gorgeous wood, instead. I’m begging you! Save that wood.

Lynda suggested:

How about sanding and putting on Watco Danish Oil for the top. It is pretty easy to keep up. Follow the directions using the wet/dry sand paper for your final coat and you won’t believe how beautiful the finish is.

Howard Products are available at a variety of retailers.


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  1. G.G. says

    I used restore-a-finish on a mahogany veneered radio and got great results, it improved the piece 100%.

  2. janice says

    I’ve used howards for some pretty intense restoration of 50’s henredon furniture. IF the finish is in semi decent shape, it’s a miracle. It reflows the varnish/finish and takes out pretty much most superficial problems. It also in the same step take off old wax and c-r-a-p like pledge which is the bane of restoration (at least to me LOL).

    You gotta use #0000 steel wool, and wipe it off with a decent cloth, and then store that cloth wet in a bag outside kids, it’s flammable!

    Love it. It can make something look good in 2 hours, instead of 2 days or work or two weeks. But at the end of the day you are restoring, not refinishing — if it needs serious refinishing work, no shortcut for that. 🙂

  3. janice says

    Also, they have good phone support. If you are wondering about something give them a call. I’ve actually had them tell me NOT to use one of their products (a different one) because “it would be too much work”. Gotta love that too.

  4. Wendy M. says

    Would these products work on a water ring and/or a steam mark on a table top? I have an end table with both of these problems. I tried Old English scratch cover, but that didn’t seem to help either issue. It’s not a high-end piece of furniture, but it’s vintage mid-’60’s (and most importantly, I really like it!) so I would like to save it. It seems like it has a veneer of sorts, so I don’t know that I could refinish it, even if I wanted to go that route. Any suggestions would be welcomed!

  5. says

    Has anyone used this on hardwood floors? I have carpet that I want to pull up, but with 2 cats, I can’t deal with professoinal sand/poly hassles. I think the floors are in OK shape underneath. Any thoughts on floor use of this product?

  6. Gail says

    I know somone else said they hate minwax products but I’ve been really happy with the minwax wood floor reviver. A thick liquid you spread around and rub in with a rag – really improved the look of my very beat up 50s pine and oak floors.

  7. Sandra says

    My mother’s contractor used Bona hardwood floor cleaner on her kitchen cabinets, and they looked like they’d been refinished.

    For cleaning jobs, fingerprints, and so on, Bona floor cleaner works great! It was easy to wipe on and off with a rag, no gloves needed, and it’s been around forever. I’ve seen it at Bed Bath & Beyond, as well as flooring dealers and janitorial supply stores.

  8. Betty Crafter says

    Kate, I’m having the same issue with trying to fix a scratch on a Brasilia credenza. There is definitely some kind of coating on it. Restore-A-Finish did nothing. I’m currently painting coats of Danish Oil on the scratch, letting it sit, then wiping it off and re-applying. It’s slow but steady progress. Maybe I should try regular stain…

  9. says

    I’d heard that about the Bona products. I guess all I can do is pull up the carpet and see what’s there, then try a few products and see what works. (Yikes!)

  10. JefferyK says

    Restore-a-Finish removed a water ring on my Danish-style secretary desk. YMMV, but it worked for me.

  11. Greg says

    Has anyone tried darkening a finish using Restor-A-Finish? Most of the windows in our Mid-Mod house are surrounded by stained mahogany that we love, but in our den, it’s mahogany with some sort of weird orangish stain. I’m not looking to ‘match’ the rest of the house, I just want it darker. The Howard’s website said that you can darken a finish by using a darker shade, but I wanted to hear some firsthand accounts.

  12. Jen8 says

    Restore works great but it does have to be reapplied, so keep your can of it. Just shake it up and reapply when needed. Been using the same can for years on a few pieces of old furniture.

    • says

      hi terry,

      it says on the howard products website to wipe dry after letting it stand for a few minutes. I’m not sure if you wiped it dry afterwards but maybe that is the problem. good luck!

  13. Becky Ladd says

    Applied this yesterday to my faded and drab oak cabinets. They look amazing. This may change my mind about painting.

  14. Pam G says

    I used Howard Restore-A-Finish and Feed and Wax on my hard wood floors. Was concerned about it being slippery after I applied the bees wax finish. Thankfully it wasn’t. Did a beautiful job on area inside patio door where sun and dog traffic had really damaged wood. Have tried many products to make it look better, this product is the only one that did that. Did my entire house! So glad I bought it.

  15. Doug says

    Can’t get it to dry on unfinished wood. It’s been a week and every time I wipe it with a dry paper towel I get brown oily residue. I’ve wiped down with mineral spirit and waited an hour and same brown oily towel.

  16. Kim says

    I have 2 Cracker Barrel wood rocking chairs that are on my covered front porch. They are looking “weathered”. What should I put on them to bring them back to life?

  17. Gerry says

    What do I use to remove the built up wax and dirt on a lovely Drexel dining table. Should I use paste wax afrwewards.? I did a dining room server and used paste wax afterwards, still smearing. My furniture is 50 plus years old and I love it but not having a pad and 3 kids it only has water marks and and no gouges HELP. Why does paste paste leave a finish so smeary?

    • pam kueber says

      Hi Gerry, I don’t know the answer to this… I am not an expert. Perhaps you can contact Drexel directly and they can advise!

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