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Best way to refinish 30 year old cabinets

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Forum topic by TopamaxSurvivor posted 02-08-2013 11:06 PM 2396 views 0 times favorited 16 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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TopamaxSurvivor

14746 posts in 2330 days


02-08-2013 11:06 PM

Topic tags/keywords: refinish

Hello LJs, I am wondering about and looking for ideas to refinish the bath vanity and cabinet. They were made of birch plywood and what looks to be poplar or alder for the face frame. I doubt it is pine. Finished too well ;-)

They have been stained a medium walnut color and have had a satin finish. We do not want to darken them. They do a some minor wear spots after 35 years of normal use and raising a couple kids.

I was thinking along the lines of sanding lightly and re-staining.

All ideas and comments welcome.

-- "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence


16 replies so far

View Alexander's profile

Alexander

190 posts in 1765 days


#1 posted 02-09-2013 12:16 AM

Hey Bob.

I have reworked some old cabinets but most were a light color stain. I would think the first thing you would want to know is how deep the dark stain goes. Maybe find a spot to sand that will not show. You could have a problem of not having enough finish on the plywood after you sand the stain off that would offer a good looking finish.

I also tried a stain remover before. Water base will have a chance to raise the grain. Again you need an out of site test spot.

Thats all I’ve got to say.

-- John at Sugarloft Mountain........Don't argue with an idiot; people watching may not be able to tell the difference.

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Bernie

414 posts in 1491 days


#2 posted 02-09-2013 12:25 AM

Always good to see you hanging around here Bob. When I have to refinish, I used to do the chemical stain removers and never liked them. Sanding takes too long for me, so now, I’ve learned to use a Stanley #80 cabinet scraper. If you can get one of these, you will love it. The blade is sharpened at a 45* angle, rough stone is OK because you want to leave the bur on it. I sharpen mine on my Tormek at the 250 grit and then I crush the edge just a bit with a burnishing tool. You could use a flat head screw driver. The blade goes into the holder so it is sitting in it backwards with bevel facing up and slanted to the backside of the tool.

This tool scratches the finish off only leaving you with a 220 smooth surface. I could do a dinning table top in less then an hour. If you get one, try it on an inconspicuous area and I’m sure you’ll be happy with it. I bought mine at a yard sale for $15.

-- Bernie: It never gets hot or cold in New Hampshire, just seasonal!

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John Lindquist

5 posts in 614 days


#3 posted 02-09-2013 12:30 AM

I have had good luck with Homer Formbys furniture refinisher (Gillespie makes about the same thing for half price) it melts the finish and will take off a fair amount of the stain. You can finish it with a coat or two of urethane. This method has worked well for me when I don’t want to spend the time it takes to strip and sand. Just a thought. (By the way, it is flammable and stinks like hell so ventilate well).

-- John, Kansas

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Clint Searl

1455 posts in 1015 days


#4 posted 02-09-2013 12:31 AM

Paint. They don’t sound as if they’re worth the effort to try to stain and clearcoat.

-- Clint Searl....Ya can no more do what ya don't know how than ya can git back from where ya ain't been

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TopamaxSurvivor

14746 posts in 2330 days


#5 posted 02-09-2013 01:56 AM

Thanks for the input. Jury still out ;-) They aren’t bad enough to cover the wood with paint, yet.

-- "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

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gfadvm

10866 posts in 1344 days


#6 posted 02-09-2013 03:14 AM

When I reworked my daughter’s pew that came out of the Grand Ole Opry (Rymon Auditorium0, I didn’t want to remove the original finish, just “refresh” it. I just went over it with grey Scotch pads to smooth it then used MinWax Wood Sheen rubbing finish. I was very skeptical but I got really nice results. You might look into this. It is really quick and easy.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

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TopamaxSurvivor

14746 posts in 2330 days


#7 posted 02-09-2013 04:18 AM

gfadvm, Did you use oil based or water based. I goggled it and found this

-- "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

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stefang

13029 posts in 1988 days


#8 posted 02-09-2013 12:25 PM

I don’t know much about finishes Bob, but it seems to me that if it is plywood that is stained, the stain might go pretty deep and be difficult remove. You might not get it all out, but maybe you can lighten it up quite a bit. Mechanical removal might be a bad idea with plywood since each layer is pretty thin. My thought was to remove the finish and then use wood bleach to lighten the bare stained wood. Before doing so, I would suggest you talk to someone you trust at your local paint store. They usually stock wood bleaches. The issue there of course would be if the glue holding the ply together is waterproof. It most likely is. I would advise you against trying ordinary bleach.

Here is a link with some info from Jeff Jewett who is a FFW mag. contributor. Just to supplement what your paint guy might tell you.

http://www.antiquerestorers.com/Articles/jeff/using_wood_bleach.htm

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

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gfadvm

10866 posts in 1344 days


#9 posted 02-09-2013 01:26 PM

I used the “Rubbibg Oil Stain And Finish” but from your link it looks like it may be hard to find. I have seen it at HD and Southerlands. I used “Windsor Oak” on that pew.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

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kizerpea

746 posts in 1021 days


#10 posted 02-09-2013 07:30 PM

+ 1 on da formbys…

-- IF YOUR NOT MAKING DUST...YOU ARE COLLECTING IT! SOUTH CAROLINA.

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TopamaxSurvivor

14746 posts in 2330 days


#11 posted 02-10-2013 02:00 AM

Thanks for the tips and info.

I’m not necessarily want to remove the old stain or color. We just do not want to darken it sustainability. I certainly do not want to sand to remove, I’m sure it wil end up without any veneer in places ;-((

Looks like MinWax oil has all been replaced with water based. I is not one their site. This may liven up the old cabinets?

Guess the first thing I should do it this cotton ball test to see what is on them, eh?

-- "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

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gfadvm

10866 posts in 1344 days


#12 posted 02-10-2013 02:11 AM

Top, That Antique Oil is just BLO,Poly, and MS (the Tung Oil Finish seems the same to me). If you need a little color in the scratches/worn areas, just add some stain to the Antique Oil Finish. That’s probably what that Rubbing Oil Sheen was anyway. The stain won’t take where your existing finish is intact and thus helps ‘blend’ the damaged areas in.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

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TopamaxSurvivor

14746 posts in 2330 days


#13 posted 02-10-2013 02:43 AM

Thanks, Sure is goof to have knowledgeable LJs on here ;-))

-- "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

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bluekingfisher

1038 posts in 1634 days


#14 posted 02-18-2013 10:40 AM

Bob, I think Andy (gfadvm) has it right, after 35 years you’re not going to finish up with a brand spanking new vanity. The “touch up” method seems the way I would go too, particularly as the unit is plywood. Judicious use of the sander could all of a sudden take you through the plys, then your in trouble!

Hope it goes well.

-- No one plans to fail, they just, just fail to plan

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TopamaxSurvivor

14746 posts in 2330 days


#15 posted 02-19-2013 04:20 AM

It seems to be a satin varnish on them. I’ll try a bit of Formby’s and see how it works on the inside. Maybe it will be good enough for the outsides ;-)

-- "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

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