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Forum topic by MickInZanesville posted 11-19-2009 08:52 PM 912 views 0 times favorited 2 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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7 posts in 3078 days

11-19-2009 08:52 PM

Topic tags/keywords: finish cherry identify wood historic finish

Greetings all!
I recently bought an antique (1820ish) tall clock. In the store I couldnt tell exactly what kind of wood and what, if any, finish had been used. The bonnet (top with the dial, door, pediment etc) had obviously been stripped (some of the dried stripper gunk was in the nooks and crannies) so I assumed the body had been stripped as well.

After I got it home and did a good cleaning (it must have been in someones barn or shed for a very long time) I came to the conclusion that it never had a shellac or finish on it originally (aside from the now stripped bonnet). The wood is a dark, somewhat blotchy reddish-brown and MAYBE the sides are the same wood—its hard to tell.
After a lot of internet searching and asking around, the sense seems to be that it is cherry that appears to have been left to oxidize naturally and doesnt appear to have ever been finished. (Maybe a paste wax? Not sure)
SO—my question (after all that!) is, what do you think is the best approach to finishing it. WHen I washed it down, you could see the potential effect of a shellac or varnish on the graining and it was really very appealing. I do NOT want to slap a coat of poly on it—I want as historic a finish as I can get without having to don knee breeches and a tricorn hat :-)

So—suggestions? Would a good coat of paste wax do the job? Should I do a shellac? And any suggestions on verifying if it is indeed cherry?

Many thanks in advance!


2 replies so far

View CharlieM1958's profile


16274 posts in 4186 days

#1 posted 11-19-2009 10:12 PM

How about Danish oil or boiled linseed oil?

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View BoxBuilder's profile


129 posts in 3098 days

#2 posted 11-19-2009 10:25 PM

I have used an oil finish for some years now that I really like. It was originally written up some years ago in Fine Woodworking magazine by Sam Maloff (just recently deceased at about 90 some years). For the mix I used McCloskeys spar varinsh but I suppose any good non-water base varnish would be OK. The mix is 1 part varnish, 2 parts boiled linseed oil & 3 parts turpentine. Mix & let stand overnight. The more coats you put on the more varnish buildup you get – but it is a slow process with drying times of several days to a week between coats. I usually stop at about 3 costs. Hope this helps.
I also like shellac a with wax finish on some projects.

-- Richard, Pennsylvania

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