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Finishing Help Needed: Mid-Century Rescue from Chalk Paint

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Forum topic by Lazyman posted 11-16-2017 03:32 AM 3159 views 0 times favorited 27 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Lazyman

2054 posts in 1414 days


11-16-2017 03:32 AM

Topic tags/keywords: walnut veneer refinish strip question finishing refurbishing sanding mid-century modern

My wife loves collecting mid-century modern pieces and when she sees a deal on Craigs List or Facebook Marketplace she sometimes cannot resist. So last week she spots this end table online that she believes is a Broyhill Brasilia piece that might just be hiding beneath some titanium white paint.

I tell her I’ll try to strip and refinish so we decide to take a risk and offer $20 and go pick it up. I decide to use a citrus finish remover and we get pretty excited when we start to see what is hidden under the paint:

Other than a couple small black ink stains that I was able to carefully sand mostly away, underneath is some really nice book matched walnut veneer that with a little gentle scraping and scrubbing turns out to be in amazing shape. Here it is after final cleaning and careful sanding to 320 grit and a little mineral spirits to pop the grain.

Why, WHY, WHY would someone put white chalk paint on this?

But anyway, I need some finishing suggestions. The problem is that being walnut, the grain of the veneer has fairly deep pores and it next to impossible to get some of the bright white paint out of the those pores without using a needle to scrape the paint out of each one. It is veneer and I have sanded as much as I dare. I used a Watco walnut stain on the base to get it back to its original color and the little bit of white paint deep in the pores really pops out. The top veneer is much finer than the base so the paint embedded in the grain is definitely more subtle but I am a little afraid to proceed without seeing if you guys can think of something I can do to prevent this on the top. Would a wood grain filler help cover up the unreachable paint? Any other ideas?

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.


27 replies so far

View onoitsmatt's profile

onoitsmatt

392 posts in 1203 days


#1 posted 11-16-2017 03:43 AM

I can’t answer your question but that’s a cool find!

-- Matt - Phoenix, AZ

View Rich's profile

Rich

3008 posts in 616 days


#2 posted 11-16-2017 03:51 AM

My response really belongs in the Without Personal Experience thread, since I can only offer what I’d try. Your grain filler sounds like a winner. Some Pore-O-Pac with a walnut color might do the trick. Even just some stain might get in the grain and hide the paint.

How’s that for useless information? Beautiful table though. I’m sure you’ll figure it out.

-- Half of what we read or hear about finishing is right. We just don’t know which half! — Bob Flexner

View TheWoodenOyster's profile

TheWoodenOyster

1317 posts in 1962 days


#3 posted 11-16-2017 04:22 AM

Holy crap. That is beautiful. Also in the never used woodfiller club myself, But I’d give that a shot.

-- The Wood Is Your Oyster

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Lazyman

2054 posts in 1414 days


#4 posted 11-16-2017 04:34 AM

I was hoping that the Watco walnut stain would hide the paint but the paint seems to repel the stain and makes it even more noticeable.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

View JCamp's profile

JCamp

639 posts in 578 days


#5 posted 11-16-2017 01:55 PM

You might try applying a thick stain and letting it set. perhaps that will cover the white specks.
Honestly it looks great from the pics perhaps its good enough no one but you guys will know its there?

-- Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with all thy might

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Lazyman

2054 posts in 1414 days


#6 posted 11-16-2017 05:16 PM

After a bunch of searching, I just found this slury method of grain filling from Wood magazine that might be worth a try. Since I am using a Watco Stain anyway to get the piece back to it original color, this fits with my original plan pretty well and I should be able to test it on the area I have already applied the Watco to.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

View Lazyman's profile

Lazyman

2054 posts in 1414 days


#7 posted 11-17-2017 04:31 PM

Well, I tried the slurry grain filling technique with limited success. I think that for one thing the places where the paint was visible in the grain were basically already filled with the paint so the slurry couldn’t really help much because there was nothing to fill. On top of that I got a little nervous leaving the slurry to dry on the top surface. I was afraid I would have to sand too aggressively for the veneer to clean that up so I am sure that limited my success as well. It seemed to help some but I think that was more a product of wet sanding getting some of the larger remnants of paint out of the pores rather than filling them and hiding them.

Anyway, the top looks pretty darn good with the Watco finish on it and you don’t really notice the paint unless you get within about 2 feet (for these old eyes anyway). I will put a light top coat of Tried and True varnish oil on it to protect it a little and enhance the sheen slightly.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

View Woodknack's profile

Woodknack

11808 posts in 2407 days


#8 posted 11-17-2017 09:24 PM

Wow, what a find. I wonder if you could have applied paint stripper and scrubbed with a nylon brush to get some of the extra paint out of the pores.

-- Rick M, http://thewoodknack.blogspot.com/

View Lazyman's profile

Lazyman

2054 posts in 1414 days


#9 posted 11-17-2017 10:32 PM



Wow, what a find. I wonder if you could have applied paint stripper and scrubbed with a nylon brush to get some of the extra paint out of the pores.

- Rick_M

I actually did that when I initially removed the paint with the stripper. After using a plastic scraper to carefully remove the bulk of the paint, I first used a nylon and then a fine brass brush to remove all of the remaining paint I could see. The instructions on the stripper said to use mineral spirits with the brush to clean the stripper from the surface and I spent way more time doing that then the initial removal. I probably could have spent more time brushing and gotten more of the paint out of the grain but it wasn’t that noticeable until I applied the light stain to try to get it close to the original color. Darkening with stain really made the white pop. This was my first attempt at such a drastic strip and restore process—lesson learned. I suppose I could have made another pass with the stripper but I had already sanded everything once and with it being veneer didn’t want to risk sanding through by having to make a second pass.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

View jbay's profile (online now)

jbay

2342 posts in 926 days


#10 posted 11-17-2017 10:48 PM

After stripping, a good wash and brushing with acetone would help.
If you could live with it being a hair darker a light fog coat sprayed over the top would help too.

View Lazyman's profile

Lazyman

2054 posts in 1414 days


#11 posted 11-17-2017 11:01 PM

Thanks. I thought about trying to tint the varnish oil I am planning to use but it is already about as dark as I would like it and frankly, the white is not too bad on the surface except under close inspection. I took a needle and scraped a few of the worst spots away. The base is a little worse because the quality of the veneer there is not as fine and also because the veneer does not cover the subrate wood on the edges and that wood appears to have even deeper grain and retains more of the paint.

My wife is happy and if she decides to sell it, the piece has about 55 years of history to tell, including being nearly destroyed by an idiot with some chalk paint.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

View DS's profile

DS

2926 posts in 2447 days


#12 posted 11-17-2017 11:05 PM

Perhaps consider a cerused walnut finish that has a white glaze in the grain.

It was actually a fairly popular finish in mid-century modern furniture.

-- "Hard work is not defined by the difficulty of the task as much as a person's desire to perform it.", DS251

View oldnovice's profile

oldnovice

6901 posts in 3395 days


#13 posted 11-18-2017 04:18 AM

That is a really wonderful find.
It is one gorgeous piece!

-- "I never met a board I didn't like!"

View Lazyman's profile

Lazyman

2054 posts in 1414 days


#14 posted 11-18-2017 05:29 AM

I had to look up how cerused finish is achieved. It sounds like it is done with a light colored wax after a stain is applied. Since we trying to restore this piece close to its original look, that’s probably not an option here but I do like the look. I have thought about using a tinted wax to cover up the white so thanks for the suggestion.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

View Manitario's profile

Manitario

2630 posts in 2910 days


#15 posted 11-18-2017 07:35 AM

Beautiful piece. I don’t understand the trend of painting hardwood furniture pieces, especially antiques like this. I had to google “Broyhill Brasilia” and unfortunately found a bunch of other beautiful pieces that were proudly “improved” with painting. Paint is for wood that no-one cares about, not fine walnut veneer.

-- Sometimes the creative process requires foul language. -- Charles Neil

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