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Refinishing 50 year furniture with old oil /wax

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Forum topic by NEwtoowood posted 408 days ago 723 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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NEwtoowood

7 posts in 694 days


408 days ago

Topic tags/keywords: restoring old furniture

Help ! I was talked into (actually conned) refinishing some 50 old furniture from my parents. Its a 6 piece book case (tops and bottoms) that was supposed to be all solid walnut. Unfortunately its walnut veneer which makes its a bit more difficult to refinish. The biggest hurdle is that the finish is oil/ wax not varnish. My parents oiled this stuff several times a year and it can not sand through it, even with a belt sander and 80 grit. The sand paper instantly clogs.

Does anyone know of a way to pre clean the surface to make sanding easier? I tries mineral spirits with no luck.
The surface needs to be thoroughly sanded as the there are deep scratches and the color is a bit ugly. At this point I am willing to risk ruining the furniture as I hate spending this much time on veneer. Really wanted it to be solid wood.

Any help is appreciated !!


8 replies so far

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

3353 posts in 2565 days


#1 posted 408 days ago

Have you tried using naptha to remove the old wax?
Bill

-- bill@magraphics.us

View Clint Searl's profile

Clint Searl

1396 posts in 965 days


#2 posted 408 days ago

Use a stripper. Don’t sand.

-- Clint Searl.............We deserve what we tolerate

View NEwtoowood's profile

NEwtoowood

7 posts in 694 days


#3 posted 408 days ago

Bill thanks for the tip. I will try naptha.

Clint , there is not clear or varnish. Only linseed oil wax. Will stripper remove that build up?

View mpounders's profile

mpounders

718 posts in 1499 days


#4 posted 408 days ago

You’ll chew up that veneer pretty quick with 80 grit sandpaper. Use furniture stripper and steel wool.

-- Mike P., Arkansas, http://mikepounders.weebly.com

View Clint Searl's profile

Clint Searl

1396 posts in 965 days


#5 posted 408 days ago

A methylene chloride (MEC) based stripper will work better than anything. Follow up with a good scrubdown with naptha and maroon scotchbrite.

-- Clint Searl.............We deserve what we tolerate

View Finisherman's profile

Finisherman

190 posts in 454 days


#6 posted 407 days ago

First of all, please don’t try to sand off the finish, especially not with 80 grit paper on a belt sander. At best, you’ll waste sanding belts without achieving much. More likely you’ll burn through the veneer. I’ve always found that attempting to abrade off a finish amounts to little more than an exercise in frustration. As Clint said, you’d be much better off using a methylene chloride stripper to remove the finish. I would also add that you might want to try lacquer thinneer or acetone in place of mineral spirits or naphtha when you scrub down the piece after stripping. Naphtha or mineral spirits will disolve wax, but they won’t dissolve cured linseed oil. I would also suggest that you plan to seal the wood with dewaxed shellac prior to finishing. This will seal in any residual wax and help to prevent adhesion problems when you apply your finish.

View DaleM's profile

DaleM

903 posts in 1988 days


#7 posted 407 days ago

I would use a card scraper and a stripper. Remove as much as you can with the scraper, then apply the stripper and scrape again if needed. I’m surprise Clint didn’t mention that oil and wax are not finishes, hahaha.

-- Dale Manning, Carthage, NY

View NEwtoowood's profile

NEwtoowood

7 posts in 694 days


#8 posted 407 days ago

Thank you all for the help. I will try the stripper.

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