What should I do with this antique table?

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Forum topic by medlefang posted 02-21-2016 12:49 AM 684 views 0 times favorited 1 reply Add to Favorites Watch
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02-21-2016 12:49 AM

So I joined this forum to ask what to do, I want to fix it up. When we got it it was good looking but the dogs tore it up, and now it needs some TLC. Any suggestions?

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#1 posted 02-22-2016 12:48 AM


I see no one has replied to your post, so I thought I would provide a couple of ideas. I am not an expert on finishing and shy away from refinishing – it is simply something that does not interest me even though I have done it a time or two. With that disclaimer out of the way:

I see two options; repair the affected areas and refinish the table.

Before refinishing the table, there are a few things that can be tried. Any deep scratches may be compressed wood fibers, rather than cut wood fibers. The methods for remove deep scratches in the wood will only work if the wood fibers are crushed and not broken. If wood fibers are crushed, then applying water to the bare wood deep scratches can swell the compressed wood fibers and restore the surface. This is done by wetting a clean rag and wringing it out over the scratch so that a little water drips onto the indented area, but use water sparingly. Several Applications may be needed, re-applying when the previously applied water is soaked up by the wood. A more aggressive approach is to drive steam into the affected wood fibers. One way to do this is to apply a hot iron to a damp cloth spread over the indented area. The iron remains in contact with the wet cloth only long enough to create steam. The risk in this case is the hot iron, especially if left in contact with table too long, could damage the surrounding finish. Several applications of steam may be required. Also water will probably raise the grain of the wood, which then would have to be lightly sand until smooth to the touch.

It appears, though difficult to tell, that the original finish may be an oil finish applied over a cherry-like stain. If this is true, then cherry tinted Danish oil may blend well enough with the surrounding area to be satisfactory. Perhaps a blend of tinted oils would be required. If the finish is a top coat of shellac, then staining followed by shellac would be the way I would precede.

But not knowing what finish was originally applied, trying the repair finish on an obscured area of the table would be a good idea to ensure the repair finish is compatible with the existing finish and that it blends well with what has already been applied.

Whatever the repair finish, apply the repair finish to the exposed raw wood first and let the new finish cure. Then lightly sand the entire top to remove any light scratches in the finish and to remove dirt and grim. Tack the surface and apply the repair finish over the entire top.

I think achieving a perfect repaired finish will be extremely difficult, unless done by an expert. If near perfect results are desired or the repair efforts fail, the entire piece could be refinished.

Stripping the existing finishing from the entire table followed by light sanding, staining and then varnishing is one way to go and may give the best results. A chemical stripper would remove most of the finish, but could affect glued areas like joints or thin veneers. If you can find one, a dip tank would be an easy way to remove the finish. However, the dip tank may loosen some joints and veneers that would have to be repaired. The dipping would also cost perhaps more than you are will to pay.

Sanding to remove the existing finish down to bare wood is another option for removing the finish. That would be a chore, especially with what appear to cabriolet legs and probably some mouldings. In addition to a lot of work, it may be difficult to determine where veneer was applied, and if applied, the danger of sanding through the veneer is a concern. Since the dogs got a hold of the table, there are probably some deep scratches in the top. Since damage is apparent on the top, trying to sand out deep scratches on the top could destroy the shallow reveal around the perimeter of the top at the roundover.

The last refinishing option is to remove the top and refinish it, leaving the rest of the table untouched. If the newly applied stain and finish is close enough to the original, a refinished top may look ok. If this option is taken, applying a coat of furniture paste wax to the entire table would bring roughly the same luster to the overall table.

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