You can spruce up the finish on your cabinets pretty easily. The two issues that I would be most concerned with from the start are matching and blending the color on the areas that need to be restained and possible oily grime contamination that's so common on kitchen cabinets. The oily grime comes from cooking oils and grease that get spread over the surface of the wood throughout the years. This oil/grease can really play havoc with the new finish when you do any touch-ups or refinishing.
Take a look at this dicussion from a while back on the forum - Spruced Up Finish
. To give your cabinets a renewed look, you'll want to use some of the same techniques.
Here's the steps I would take on your cabinets;
Cleaning Dirt and Grime
- Remove the handles and clean the doors/drawers really well.
- Touch up the color on scratches and worn areas.
- Spray a few very light coats of touch-up lacquer over the retsained areas using the same sheen as the existing finish.
There's some information on cleaning in this discussion - Cleaning Grease and Oily Grime
Once the cabinets are clean, you can apply stain to the areas that need it. For scratches, you can use touch-up markers or an oil-base gel stain. For the areas where the color is worn away, use a gel stain and a soft cotton cloth to make a small pad that is much smaller (e.g., 1/4) than the size of the area you're restaining. Use the pad to tap tiny amounts of stain onto the area and blend it in. You can also use your finger tips to pat the areas and blend the color in. Get one even coat of color on each area and let it dry overnight (unless it's too dark in which case you should wipe it off imediately - mineral spirits will dissolve and remove the stain before it dries). While you're applying the stain, before it dries, you can get a good sense of whether the color is too light or a good match. If it's not a good match, you can just wipe it off right away (again, mineral spirits or naphtha will make it easier to remove the stain before it dries). You may need to mix a couple different colors of gel stain togther to get a better match. If it looks a little too light, don't worry about it, you can pad on a second coat of the stain after the first one dries for a day.
Recoat the Touch-Ups
There's a very good chance the finish on the cabinets is lacquer and you can use the same finish to do your touch-ups. First, you should do a little test just to make sure there's not going to be a compatibility problem. Pick a spot that's out of sight (e.g., the back of a seldomly used door) and spray a few light coats of you touch-up lacquer on a small area. If you get any wrinkling, there's a compatibility problem and the lacquer isn't going to work. I'd be really surprised if this is the case.
It's important to use touch-up lacquer (aerosol) because it's formulated for spraying spots without leaving overspray around the spots. Overspray creates a white halo and rough texture that doesn't make for a nice repair. You can get touch-up lacquer from place like this one - http://woodfinishersdepot.com
. You only need 2-3 really light coats of the lacquer over the repairs to seal and protect the new stain. Keep each coat really thin to avoid sags and runs - just light, quick passes over the spots (practice on a piece of cardboard if you need to). If you see small craters in the first coat of lacquer, stop and re-post in this discussion.