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Thread: Refinishing Hitchcock Table

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
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    Southington, CT
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    6

    Refinishing Hitchcock Table

    Hi all,

    New member here. We have a Hitchock cherry coffee table that the finish has become "mottled" from 20+ years of sunlight coming in from a southern-facing room with lots of windows and skylights. The table has stencils that I really don't want to lose (they don't make these anymore), and fortunately the sun-damage is in areas away from them. Anyway, I tried sanded those areas down to bare cherry (necessary to get rid of all the "mottled" area, and now am trying to match the stain darkness of the rest of the finish. So far, I have about 7-8 applications of cherry MinWax stain, and can't get it anywhere dark enough. I even tried a little dark oak, red oak, and provincial stains, but the wood doesn't seem to want to take any more stain. I've had suggestions ranging from using dyes to even letting the wood darken in sunlight. Any other thoughts? Here's a clickable pic to help you see what I'm talking about:

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    Tokyo Japan
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    15,585
    Geof, I think you will have a hard time getting the sanded parts to match the other parts, a really hard time........

    I understand you do not want to lose the stencils, is it possible to scan them, and have some copies made up to match, and then refinish the entire top, finally reapplying the "new" old stencils?

    Good luck!
    The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.
    William Arthur Ward

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Southington, CT
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    I think you're probably right. I did pick up some blank stencil material and will try to transfer the pattern, but I'm still wondering about the cherry table top taking the stain, even to approximate the rest of the table. Should I be looking at a cherry dye? Could I make up a shellac and mix in the dye? Also, how much difference can I expect by letting light "age" the bare wood?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    somewhere east of Queen Creek, AZ - South East of Phoenix
    Posts
    8,436
    Geoff,
    I think redoing the top is realy the only answer. I don't use stain anymore and have found that dye's are easier to work with and more even coloring on any surface. One of the nice things aboiut the dies is you can control how much they darken. I use water based dye. The way I do is if a bottle of crystal is designed to make a qt of a given color I make a pint. Then I add crystal until I get it as dark as I want it. testing the batch on a piece of scrap before adding more crystal. This way I can sneak up on the exact color I want. In you case you'd need to find a spot on the piece that is not visable as you test piece.

    Hope this helps.
    "There’s a lot of work being done today that doesn’t have any soul in it. The technique may be the utmost perfection, yet it is lifeless. It doesn’t have a soul. I hope my furniture has a soul to it." - Sam Maloof
    The Pessimist complains about the wind; The Optimist expects it to change;The Realist adjusts the sails.~ William Arthur Ward

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    Placitas, NM in the foothills of the Sandia Mt
    Posts
    688
    Hey Geof,
    I'm with Stu on the difficulty of a seemless match to your aged cherry.

    FWIW, I looked up the issue in Terri Masaschi's Foolproof Wood Finishing and here's her technique:

    Place a small piece of glass on the table and mix shellac and furniture powder (dry powder colors from Behlen or Homestead) on the glass until it matches the color of the table as seen thru the glass. Apply thin layers of material with an artist brush, working thinly and quickly. After it dries, if you aren't satisfied, you may be able to apply a glaze to tweak the color. If you use a glaze, seal it with shellac.

    Topcoat the whole table with a few coats.

    Good luck!
    Don't believe everything you think!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Southington, CT
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    6
    Thanks for the help guys. I'll post my results as the project progresses.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    Tokyo Japan
    Posts
    15,585
    Something more.................... when you do get it done, buy some of that UV film coating for them darn windows!

    Good luck!
    The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.
    William Arthur Ward

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Michigan
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    2,434
    Quote Originally Posted by Geof Fowler View Post
    Hi all,

    New member here.
    Geof, please forgive my fellow forumites manners.....


    Welcome to the family, glad you found your way
    A very wise man once said.......
    "I'll take my chances with Misseurs Smith and Wesson. "

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
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    Southington, CT
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Ash View Post
    Geof, please forgive my fellow forumites manners.....


    Welcome to the family, glad you found your way
    Steve,

    Thanks for steering me here. I knew you would know the best avenue to solve my dilemma!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Michigan
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    Quote Originally Posted by Geof Fowler View Post
    I knew you would know the best avenue to solve my dilemma!
    I just pointed you to where the best woodworkers on the net hang out....well except for one housebuilder, they tolerate me.
    A very wise man once said.......
    "I'll take my chances with Misseurs Smith and Wesson. "

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