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Refurb, Antique Walnut Table #4: Scraping By on a Formerly Split Top

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Blog entry by Smitty_Cabinetshop posted 572 days ago 1789 reads 0 times favorited 33 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 3: Pop the Top... Part 4 of Refurb, Antique Walnut Table series Part 5: A Serious Setback »

Top is glued up and stable as of this afternoon. Looks reasonably good, all told.

The question now is how to ‘refinish’ the top. Now I know what you’re saying. Just the top, Smitty? What about the rest of the table? Well, I’m going to concentrate on the top and edges of the top for now, and see what happens before complicating my thoughts with turned leg refinishing. So there. It’s the KISS principle at it’s best…

Andy suggested hitting the top with alcohol to test for shellac. Did that, results were limited to a dirty rag only. If there was shellac used, it’s not the only thing remaining. So that didn’t pan out. Rats.

I then decided to go radical. Scraping is not something I’ve done with any success. I mean, I’ve used my #80 on the cabinetmaker’s bench to get grit off that maple work surface, but I wasn’t that impressed with either my ability or the outcome. (Both, really, but I digress.) I didn’t go for the #80 this time, but did reach into the bench cabinet for my high-dollar ‘old hand saw blade cut into squares’ scraper and headed to the tabletop. Why scrape and not sand? Well, I didn’t want to run through all the grits and associated gummy papers (due to the finish being present), AND I wanted to learn a new skill, AND the glue joint had a few high and low spots along the run (should have used biscuits for alignment, maybe?) that a scraper would certainly be able to address. Enough wordiness. To the pictures…

First cut didn’t look bad at all. Scratches deeper than I ever expected, but the scraper was doing it’s thing!

Before too long it was clear that the whole top had to be done, as I was past the point of no return. In the second pic that follows, the #83 scraper ‘plane’ is in the background. Worthless for this application, let me tell you. Maybe I have the blade sized wrong (it’s not an original), but if this was gonna get done I had to do by hand (steady, Al).

I reversed the table so it was braced against my workbench and light from the window could help. The scratches are actually gouges in the right (wrong?) light.

I kept going, but it was clear the scraper needed a fresh edge.

How did I ‘sharpen’ the scraper? It varied until I got consistent results, but here’s the one that got me the furthest between touch ups. First, 400 grit paper on a limestone block (hard and flat) to clean the edge, front and back.

The a couple passes with the clamshell jointer…

... before burnishing straight across, then to each side at a slight (10 degree??) angle.

A fresh edge gets you shavings, not dust.

This patch took two freshenings of the iron to get through.

And here’s the final scraped top, four blisters and two burned thumbs later! :-)

Glamour shots, then, after hitting the top with the ROS and 220 grit paper. Yes, I sanded. I don’t feel good about it, but there’s no way I was planing this thing OR leaving just the scraped surface. So actually I do feel good about it.

I cleaned the top with a series of clean cotton rags (old T shirts are great shop towels…) then wiped it down with mineral spirits to see what it’d look like with a finish. OMG! Very sweet! Sorry, no picture of that ‘til next time.

After getting through this brute force exercise, I feel like I passed a test of sorts with the scraper. It’s a great tool, simple yet effective, and I know how to use one now. Am I an expert? Hardly. But now, whenever the old timers gather ‘round and talk about sore thumbs from scraping, I know what they mean. :-)

As always, thanks for looking!

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive



33 comments so far

View lysdexic's profile

lysdexic

4779 posts in 1224 days


#1 posted 572 days ago

That is a labor of love my man! Awesome.

I covet the clamshell.

I scraped a finish off today as well. What are the chances. I can hardly believe you resisted the urge to reach for a smoother.

A toast to those you bring new life to old furniture. Well done sir.

-- It isn't the mountains ahead to climb that wear you out; it's the pebble in your shoe. - Muhammad Ali

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile

Smitty_Cabinetshop

9598 posts in 1220 days


#2 posted 572 days ago

Thank you, ScottyB Yo, I appreciate the toast!

The clamshell was a $1 flea mkt find. Guy didn’t know what he had, so I saved about $14 over dealer price. It’s most awesome when you need one…

The smoother would have required perfect fettling… Feather light shavings, every so slight camber, even after the finish was removed. Grain direction varied a bit, so there may have been tear out as well. Since there was scraping at all, I’ve read that is should be entirely done vs. have differing surfaces to surface. In other words, lots of risk for little reward over the ROS. I lost a bit on the galoot index for it, but should have made up for it by scraping a whole bloody table top. :-)

What’d you scrape today?

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive

View lysdexic's profile

lysdexic

4779 posts in 1224 days


#3 posted 572 days ago

Moxon vise

The picture only shows a paint scraper. I used that at first and followed with a card scraper. That is why my burnisher got included in the obligatory beer shots last night. I did, however, follow with a fresh edge on a 4 1/2. Yet, my piece is not as precious as your table top.

I get your comment on the different textured surfaces as I still have a little remaining.

-- It isn't the mountains ahead to climb that wear you out; it's the pebble in your shoe. - Muhammad Ali

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile

Smitty_Cabinetshop

9598 posts in 1220 days


#4 posted 572 days ago

I see the vise, and commented there, but it’s a fine (and totally appropriate) addition to your bench. I’ve not decided yet RE: building a Moxon for my shop. I done quite a few dovetails and like the setup I have (except for lighting; mine sucks…) and haven’t reached the conclusion that I need something else to do it better or in greater comfort. We’ll see.

I wondered about the lonely paint scraper, and knew you didnt’ get that shine with that tool. :-)

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive

View AnthonyReed's profile

AnthonyReed

4381 posts in 1042 days


#5 posted 572 days ago

Very nice.

A scraper lesson too?!!?

Perfect. Thanks

-- ~Tony

View BenStewart's profile

BenStewart

66 posts in 586 days


#6 posted 572 days ago

Excellent…does anyone deliver new existence to aged household furniture. Done well sir. ! Thank you for the good ideas!

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile

Smitty_Cabinetshop

9598 posts in 1220 days


#7 posted 572 days ago

Thanks, Tony! I’m half expecting a scraper pro to tell me I need to work on sharpening… So far, though, so good. :-)

Ben, thank you for the comments! I’m in discussions w/ the wife re: this table. I’ll get it in the house, just need to remove a piece to keep order. Getting it in is a huge plus for me, though, as I’ve grown fond of the piece.

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive

View mafe's profile

mafe

9456 posts in 1691 days


#8 posted 572 days ago

I love the surface on mahogany when frech scraped, but also them small fine shaves from the scraper.
Nic work there.
Best thoughts,
Mads

-- Mad F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect. Democraticwoodworking.

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile

Smitty_Cabinetshop

9598 posts in 1220 days


#9 posted 572 days ago

Thanks, Mads! I have to check out your latest goings-on with that wonderful bench and shop of yours!

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive

View chrisstef's profile (online now)

chrisstef

10421 posts in 1608 days


#10 posted 572 days ago

Smitty to the rescue! Like lysdexic, i too covet that clam shell, ive got something new to look for when the spring season of rust hunting begins. I also have a love/hate relationship with my scrapers. They probably just need a little more love than i give them.

Your blog & project is moving along really well buddy, im itchin to see what the top looks like all MS’ed up.

-- "there aren’t many hand tools as awe-inspiring as the #8 jointer. I mean, it just reeks of cast iron heft and hubris" - Smitty

View Don W's profile (online now)

Don W

14649 posts in 1169 days


#11 posted 572 days ago

Sweet sweet shavings. I think scraper shavings are my favorite. Nice job on the card scraper. A VERY handy tool to master for sure.

-- Master hand plane hoarder. - http://timetestedtools.com

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile

Smitty_Cabinetshop

9598 posts in 1220 days


#12 posted 572 days ago

Stef, the finish is being applied! It’s Minwax Wipe On Poly… I know, I know, an enathma here on LJs to use poly on anything, but I do like this stuff and just haven’t learned anything else yet. Three coats so far, will keep going with a couple / three more tonight, I hope. Then finish with wax. Hopefully to do the table justice. When complete, I’ll add a note in a small envelope underneath, as Shep suggested, telling of the fix. Then it’s good for another century!

Thanks, Don. I do think the card scraper was the right tool for the job!

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive

View Don W's profile (online now)

Don W

14649 posts in 1169 days


#13 posted 572 days ago

Smitty, I may be wrong, but I think most of the reluctance to poly is the brush on type, but I have to say, I’ve used my share.

I like the envelope idea. I’ve often added notes to the bottom of restored or built pieces. I sometimes stick business cards between pieces as well. Someday, should somebody recycle (sometimes again) it would be a very interesting find.

-- Master hand plane hoarder. - http://timetestedtools.com

View Mauricio's profile

Mauricio

6749 posts in 1753 days


#14 posted 572 days ago

Great work Smitty, I can feel the pain in your thumbs through the pictures.

I have nothing against poly, shellac would have been more appropriate, either way I’m sure it will look amazing!

Cant wait for the next installment!

-- Mauricio - Woodstock, GA - "Confusion is the Womb of Learning, with utter conviction being it's Tomb" Prof. T.O. Nitsch

View lysdexic's profile

lysdexic

4779 posts in 1224 days


#15 posted 572 days ago

FWIW, I am big fan of wipe on poly. Mainly because it is so dang easy and I am not proficient at anything else. Yet, under Bhog’s influence – shellac is next.

-- It isn't the mountains ahead to climb that wear you out; it's the pebble in your shoe. - Muhammad Ali

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