Ethan Allen has created some timeless pieces of furniture, but just because it's timeless doesn't mean it's impervious to wear and tear. If you have a maple Ethan Allen dresser that has seen better days, know that refinishing it is a time-consuming, but rewarding process. The less ornate the woodwork, the easier the process. Choose a darker or lighter stain if you want to change things up, or paint it instead of staining it. You can even buy different drawer pulls. If you wish to retain Ethan Allen's original look, take a drawer to the paint store to find a stain that matches. You may have to test a few stains on a separate piece of maple to find a stain that results in a similar color.
Remove the contents of the dresser and, if possible, bring the dresser outdoors or to a well-ventilated, but protected area (like a garage). Set it on a drop cloth or old newspapers to protect the floor, and wear gloves, eye protection and mask when working with chemicals.
Pull out the dresser drawers and use a screwdriver to remove drawer pulls. Keep the screws and drawer pulls in a safe place where you'll find them later.
Follow the directions on a stripping agent of your choice to remove any leftover paint or stain on the Ethan Allen maple dresser and on the front of each drawer. Typically, you apply the stripper (with a brush or a spray bottle), and allow it to sit on the wood for a period of time before wiping it off with rags and scraping the remnants with steel wool. You will probably need to repeat this process a few times to remove all paint and stain.
Sand the stripped Ethan Allen maple dresser and drawers with a small orbital sander (for larger flat surfaces) and by hand (for crevices and corners). Consider starting with a coarser grade of sandpaper first and then finishing with a finer grade. The sanding process may take considerable time, so be prepared.
Use a damp rag to wipe down all sanded surfaces to remove dust and grit.
Stain the Ethan Allen maple dresser following the directions on the stain container. Generally, apply a liquid stain with a rag or brush, following the grain of the wood and allowing it to penetrate. The longer you let it penetrate, the darker the stain will be. Wipe off excess liquid stain with a clean rag, and allow the dresser to dry. Repeat if you want a darker finish. Apply gel stains the same way—rub them on, and wipe them off.
Paint your dresser (following the manufacturer's directions) if you don't want to stain it. Typically, apply at least two coats with a paint brush or spray can, allowing each coat to dry completely before applying the next.
Whether painting or staining, apply at least one coat of polyurethane, once again following the directions on the product's label. You should apply polyurethane on a flat surface and allow it to dry for many hours between coats; you may have to lay the dresser on its side, apply the polyurethane with a paint brush and allow the coat to dry before flipping the dresser on the other side to repeat the process until you coat all sides. Water-based polyurethane does not take as long to dry.
Reattach the drawer pulls when the last coat of polyurethane is dry, and reinsert the drawers.