Pickling is a painting or staining process that adds color to wood without heavy use of paint. Once pickled, your cabinets will have a light sheen of color, but the wood grain will still be visible. Depending on the color and method of the pickling job, it may look classic and timeless--or dated. If your cabinets fall into the latter category, you can refinish them to change the color or simply to bring the wood back to its original finish.
Spray the cabinets with ammonia-based cleaner and wipe them down with a rag to remove grease and grime.
Attach medium-grit sandpaper to an electric hand-held sander. Sand the cabinets, moving in the direction of the wood grain. Remove as much of the shiny topcoat that you can with the medium-grit paper.
Switch the sandpaper to fine-grit paper. Sand the cabinets again, removing as much color as possible. The cabinets should be smooth and free of color when you have finished sanding.
Fold a piece of fine-grit sandpaper in half. Use the folded edge to sand the small crevices and difficult-to-reach portions of the cabinet. Wipe the entire cabinet down with a damp rag to remove the sanding dust.
Apply stain to the cabinets with a quality paintbrush. Wipe away the excess stain with a clean rag. Allow the first coat of stain to soak into the wood. Apply a second coat in the same manner. Let the stain dry completely.
Dip a quality paintbrush into polyurethane. Apply a thin layer of the polyurethane topcoat to the cabinets. Let the first coat dry to the touch before applying a second coat.