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Walnut table finish ruined -- how to fix?

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Forum topic by az23 posted 02-11-2016 02:16 PM 728 views 0 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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az23

3 posts in 297 days


02-11-2016 02:16 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question walnut finishing

Hello! I purchased a walnut dining table from an out-of-state woodworker. When he shipped the table to me, it was clear that he finished the table in a HURRY and did not allow for adequate drying time. He used some kind of Tung Oil finish, and it smelled absolutely awful when it arrived. It looked ‘wet’. He had wrapped the table in a blanket and secured the blanket tightly with tape at either end… Much of the finish where the taped areas were completely came off. The tabletop now looks dry, splotchy and terrible. The woodworker refuses to respond to calls/messages so I am on my own.

My husband is willing to refinish the top for me. I don’t know anything about wood finishes—can anyone provide suggestions for me based on these criteria?

- I do not want to stain the wood a different color, as I really love the natural color and look of walnut. What can I use to bring out the color (Danish Oil? Tung Oil?)
- How many coats of it would I need to use?
- Although this is dining room table, I would prefer not to use a poly sealer as I don’t like the feel or look. Can I get a moderate amount of protection for the table using something like Waterlox?

Any suggestions or advice would be so very much appreciated! Thank you!

*UPDATE, PHOTOS OF TABLETOP IN REPLY BELOW!**


10 replies so far

View chrisstef's profile

chrisstef

15660 posts in 2468 days


#1 posted 02-11-2016 02:35 PM

I would say to wipe down the existing table with naptha and let it dry completely. Maybe use synthetic steel wool to slightly abrade the surface. After that I would use 2 coats of dewaxed shellac (SealCoat) to seal whatever finish was used previously. Sand lightly with 320 to even it out. Then id apply 3-4 coats of waterlox or your finish of choice sanding lightly again with 320 between coats. If the bottom of the table hasn’t been finished I would put a couple coats of waterlox on there too. This would prevent the table from absorbing moisture unevenly.

The seller not responding to an issue for something you paid for is garbage. Id put them on public blast for sure. If there’s an option to recind some of the payment I would do that in a heartbeat.

Can we see some pics? It may help out in restoring your table.

-- rock, chalk, jayhawk

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mahdee

3550 posts in 1229 days


#2 posted 02-11-2016 02:50 PM

chrisstef’s suggestion should do the trick. Allow plenty of time between coats.

-- earthartandfoods.com

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jdh122

879 posts in 2279 days


#3 posted 02-11-2016 06:23 PM

While I think that chrisstef’s suggestion is a good one, I would propose starting differently. If it smelled strong when you received it there is a good chance that the finish applied actually was tung oil or boiled linseed oil. One advantage of these finishes is that you can recoat overtop of them without stripping anything off. So I would suggest that you start by trying to put Waterlox (which is actually a tung oil finish) directly over it, following the directions. You have little to lose, since you’ll know almost right away whether there was wax or some other kind of finish applied that inhibits the penetration of the tung oil. If this turns out to be the case, then you can follow chrisstef’s finishing schedule.
I should say that I haven’t used Waterlox before, but I have refinished tung-oiled tables before by doing nothing more than adding enough new coats to make the stains disappear using Lee Valley’s polymerized tung oil.

-- Jeremy, in the Acadian forests

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chrisstef

15660 posts in 2468 days


#4 posted 02-11-2016 07:01 PM

I’m with Jeremy if you know for certain what was applied or you at least know it was tung / boiled linseed / Danish oil of some sort. FWIW – if you can still smell it, its not dry.

-- rock, chalk, jayhawk

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shampeon

1711 posts in 1645 days


#5 posted 02-11-2016 07:27 PM

The key here is to not do what Johnny Don’t did. Don’t rush it.

Finishing is hard, but it’s impossible if you rush. A wiped-on oil finish is easier for novices than spraying, and can blend into the previously done coat, but it’s important to follow the schedule to build it up.

I echo Stef in that pics would help a lot.

-- ian | "You can't stop what's coming. It ain't all waiting on you. That's vanity."

View az23's profile

az23

3 posts in 297 days


#6 posted 02-11-2016 09:08 PM

This is really helpful, thank you so much! Below are a couple images. The smell was so intense when he sent it to us, we had to leave the table outside for days. It does not smell anymore—it’s been a year. I think he said he made his own finish, and if I remember correctly, it contained Tung Oil. Oh and chrisstef —I WISH I could get my money back. The table is not well constructed, there is a fine crack in the wood in the center. About two months after I ordered the table, Yelp reviews on this guy started pouring in and he was basically swindling tons of people out of thousands of dollars. I’m one of the ‘lucky’ ones who actually got a completed piece of furniture. Many people just lost money with nothing to show for it. He has since changed his business name to run from his ruined reputation. :(

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chrisstef

15660 posts in 2468 days


#7 posted 02-11-2016 09:22 PM

That doesn’t look too bad AZ, I think it will prove to be repairable. Sorry for your dealings with the shady business owner. Giving woodworkers a bad name and all.

It looks like that corner of the table had the oil soaked up by the blanket instead of the wood. Now that I see the pics I think another coat of oil will be the ticket. Waterlox over the top of that and you should be good to go. If there’s the same damage on the bottom of the piece test out some oil there first. If not, try a little spot on top and see what happens.

-- rock, chalk, jayhawk

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az23

3 posts in 297 days


#8 posted 02-11-2016 10:42 PM

Thanks chrisstef—it’s definitely too bad about the shady business owner. I purposely went with a small business because I like supporting the little guy…

So, do I need to sand it down with a fine grit first to get a more even color surface? Then apply one coat of Waterlox?

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chrisstef

15660 posts in 2468 days


#9 posted 02-12-2016 01:52 AM

I dunno is the short answer. Ive never used waterlox on walnut so i cant say that its going to ne able to blend the colors there at the end of the table.

Most of us hobbyists stick to what were familiar with so ypure going to get a myriad of answers. Soo… With a grain of salt. Here’s what i wpuld do. I would apply light walnut danish oil, watco brand, following the instructions on the can. Id hope this would even out the color. Then i would use arm-r-seal in a matte finish (if they make a matte?). Im not a matte guy but you want to keep it as close to its original texture. 3-4 coats sanding lightly with 320 in between. Brush 2 coats, wipe on the rest until i was happy.

Again, thats what i would be comfortable with. Finishing is kinda like ice cream, we all got our own flavors.

-- rock, chalk, jayhawk

View mahdee's profile

mahdee

3550 posts in 1229 days


#10 posted 02-12-2016 03:16 AM

It looks like it can be rescued from whatever it happened to it.. Sand it down to remove all derbies and apply a final finish on it.

-- earthartandfoods.com

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