Any Ideas what this is??

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Forum topic by don1960 posted 10-23-2011 04:18 PM 1272 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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227 posts in 2862 days

10-23-2011 04:18 PM

I started on a refinishing project for my Step-Daughter. Redoing her kitchen cabinets in their new (to them) house.

So, after making sure she understood that I wasn’t sure what was underneath the paint, and it might be some sort of particle board or really bad veneer, I tried the first one.

After cleaning off the stripper on a section of door, things looked pretty good. However, the ends never changed color, just remained the dark color that it started out as. Now, the face of the door looks nice, kind of like a maple type grain. So, I tried some light sanding to get rid of some fine scratches.

That is when things went a little screwy. The “wood” has what looks like grain, but there is zero texture to it. It feels as smooth as glass, and the edges (all sides) look like some sort of pressed board. Also, near the edges where I sanded, the ‘grain’ is disappearing. It’s almost as though the grain is sprayed on in an extremely thin layer. I don’t want to go any further with sanding, and I have never run into anything like this before.

So, anybody have any idea what this might be. It’s from a approx 35-40 year old house.

Oh, and the door is EXTREMELY heavy, more so than any wood that thick should be.

below is a link to some pictures.

-- -- Don from PA

8 replies so far

View Lee Barker's profile

Lee Barker

2170 posts in 3026 days

#1 posted 10-23-2011 04:28 PM

Don, to me it looks like a veneered particle board panel applied over a plywood door with a 30o reverse bevel edge.

If so, it will not be possible to get that edge light colored, unless you paint over it. The material is so porous that it takes lots of pigment on that first application.

As for the disappearing grain, I suspect that’s what we used to call “photo finish” which describes a very thin plastic surface which, like lots of plastic laminate, is a photo of wood.

How thick is that applied panel? It looks thicker than 3/4, but even at 3/4 it will add a lot of honkin’ weight to the door.

Has the hardware stood up? Those were the days of American made Amerock stuff which was pretty good.

I hope this helps with some information that will lead you to the best results for her.



-- " his brain, which is as dry as the remainder biscuit after a voyage, he hath strange places cramm'd with observation, the which he vents in mangled forms." --Shakespeare, "As You Like It"

View don1960's profile


227 posts in 2862 days

#2 posted 10-23-2011 04:51 PM


Thanks for the info. I do remember something about ‘photo finish’ now that you mention it. I think you hit that just right.

There won’t be any sanding on these doors, and if you are right about it being a plastic surface, there won’t be much in the way of staining either.

The door is about 3/4, with each piece being about 3/8” (main part and applied panel) They are the same material.

The hardware is in pretty good shape, although Laura will probably at least changing out the door pulls. The hinges seem fine just need some cleaning and a coat of lacquer to reseal them.

Knowing my daughter, she may elect to just reface these, since I don’t think she’ll be happy with the limitations of what can be done with the current situation. We’ll see how this progresses.

Thanks again for the info and quick reply, Lee.

See ya,

-- -- Don from PA

View DS's profile


3024 posts in 2596 days

#3 posted 10-25-2011 01:54 AM

This looks like a Luan Mahogany, or perhaps an Okoume (a Mahogany relative) veneer on particle board. Import grades were really popular in the 80s and the veneers were only about 1/2 the thickness of a domestic veneer. (1/64th” vs 1/32nd”)
The panels were really cheap and were more commonly used as inexpensive backer panels for production furniture.

No help for the PB edges. A lot of people end up painting the door at this point.

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

View Grandpa's profile


3261 posts in 2851 days

#4 posted 10-25-2011 11:10 PM

In my part of the USA they called it fiber core ash or in this case it looks like fiber core mahogany. It has a core with a pretty good grade of particle board. Think about what I said “good particle board”. It had thin veneer. It was used by some people in my area to make cabinets from. It was an alternative to lumber core ash when ash cabinets were popular. The guys above have it pegged. paint it or toss it are the options now. good luck.

View don1960's profile


227 posts in 2862 days

#5 posted 10-26-2011 01:27 AM

Thanks everyone for the replies.

I think my daughter has decided to paint, so that looks like the way I’m going.

I found some waterborne alkyd that looks promising from Benny Moore.

-- -- Don from PA

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3261 posts in 2851 days

#6 posted 10-26-2011 01:44 AM

I like their products. I have used a product called Paso. You wipe it on and it softens the old finish and preps it for painting. I liked it. You will need to get the old “kitchen residue” off the cabinets. I like TSP for that. It preps the old finish also.

View don1960's profile


227 posts in 2862 days

#7 posted 11-15-2011 07:27 PM

Just thought I’d add a followup to this.

Decided painting was the way to go. Sanded down one of the doors to smooth it out. Took off most of whatever finish was on there, but didn’t bother with the plastic veneer. Just roughed it up some. Put on a thin coat of dewaxed shellac, then sanded that slightly.

Paint was a product called “Advance” from Benjamin Moore. It’s a waterborne Alkyd paint that simulates an oilbased product. Two coats of that covered completely, and seems like it will hold up real well. The feel of it after it dries is very similar to any oil-based paint I’ve ever used. It’s expensive at about $45/gal, but much cheaper than refacing the cabinets.

Now all I have to do is 10 more doors/drawers and the cabinet face frames. Umm-Umm.

-- -- Don from PA

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3261 posts in 2851 days

#8 posted 11-16-2011 03:22 AM

thanks for the update. It is always interesting to find out about the method decided on and the final results.

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