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Thread: Antique furniture finish

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Salt Spring Island, BC Canada
    Posts
    2,070

    Antique furniture finish

    I have been having trouble fixing some marks on a peice of antique furniture( 1915). My fiance sanded the top peice some time back and wanted to do the entire peice. I have talked her out of it as it really isn't worth it in my opinion and will take way to much time to do. I have attempted to do some color matching but am having trouble doing this as i have not done much refinishing of antiques before. It looks like a very dark stain or maybe even a paint. I am not sure. I have come close to the color with mixing a few stains together but just can't seem to get it just right. Maybe someone with more experience can give me some pointers.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Dresser 2.jpg  
    Daily Thought: SOME PEOPLE ARE LIKE SLINKIES..... NOT REALLY GOOD FOR ANYTHING BUT THEY BRING A SMILE TO YOUR FACE WHEN PUSHED DOWN THE STAIRS...............

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Floydada, Tx
    Posts
    1,941
    What type of wood is it? If you go to a place that sells stain( other then min wax) they will have samples or you can take a door or drawer with you and they could help match it. It be hard to get a exact match, but as long it is close nobody but you will notice.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Salt Spring Island, BC Canada
    Posts
    2,070
    I am posting these replyes that I recieved from another WW forum to help others that might run into similar problems with old furniture like I am having. These come from a few gyts from the canadian WW forum. Hope no one minds me posting them here.


    First from Axel

    "You can test the finish to see if it is shellac by padding some 100% alcohol on an inconspicuous area. If the finish starts to dissolve there's a very good chance the piece is finished with shellac. If it is shellac you can repeatedly wipe the piece down with alcohol and a cloth to restore the finish to some degree. There is however little you can do to fill scratches other than to artist brush some shellac in them.

    Seeing as they are antiques it would be more than a matter of refinishing them. They should be restored in a traditional manner with traditional products as the day they were originally finished. It would take some research to find the maker and the process used for the finishing (near imposible to do with some old things as the people that did it have pased on).

    First off it's important to date them correctly and find out what was used in the original finishing schedule. If they are mahogany chances are it will be Honduran, these were often oiled and oil sanded and then follwed with shellac or varnish. Some used garnet shellac to generate the added brown/red tones to the stunning mahogany of the era.

    If by some chance these have already been refinished (maybe in the 50's) their value has already been diminished as a result unless it was done properly.

    It should be a fairly straight forward job though as it looks to be 100% solid wood with no veneers.. Axel"

    Then from Paul

    "Yes! They (presumably the auction house) will devalue if the original finish is disturbed. Antiques Roadshow caused all kinds of grief for restoration/refinishing professionals by pushing this view. They subsequently retracted it (with sensible qualifications), but the precedent was set: if it's refinished, its worth less.
    Is it worth the effort? Probably not, unless you are a skilled restorer (for the above reasons) and know how to retain all the desirable features that age and use have imparted to the pieces. Sanding it, BTW isn't the way to go!!
    Small dents and dings don't matter: they may even add some value. Even a missing wheel isn't too bad, as these can be found pretty easily online in "antique" hardware outlets. I have even seen pieces with 3 wheels fetch more than similar pieces with four. Go figure.
    What really determines the value, is whether there is a market for it at the time you are selling it. Judging by the feedback from the auction house, I would say there isn't in the geographic area they deal in.
    If you want to get a good price you have to sell it in an area where people are buying this kind of furniture. If you know a couple of people that sell/restore genuine antiques (not "antique" shops), and sell through the internet, they may be able to help you. Sure you'll have to pay them, but they will at least give you an honest appraisal up front. And in these days of internet auctions, you're more likely to connect with a serious buyer in a shorter time than ever before.
    As for cleaning up the piece yourself, try Briwax. Awesome stuff, gets the grime out and preserves the original finish. Check out their website, http://www.briwax.com for details.
    If you brought a piece like this to my shop, I'd do everything I could to keep the original finish/patina intact, and after minor repair/cleaning/testing the finish, I would spray the closest equivalent finish I had right over the original, and give it it that "hand rubbed" look. Good luck...............Paul"


    Last from Gary

    "My guess is that this piece is made up of a variety of woods. Veneers, solids, etc. if you strip it or remove the film finish, you may find that the various woods no longer match. There could even be cherry under there stained to look like mahagony, a common practice in the early 20th C. Spot check a few different sections to see what is underneath. If the finish is shellac, and the woods vary, you should be able to clean the entire thing with mineral spirits (not alcohol) and then simply apply a thin coat of clean fresh shellac. The old shellac will combine with the new as the alchohol in the shellac dissolves the surface. A few coats of thin shellac, with very light sanding in between coats, should give you a good surface.

    Unless the finish is a varnish in which case the only alternative is to strip the entire thing, stain it to bring all the colors together (a really tough job) and then apply a new tinted film finish.

    That is... if your goal is to restore it to the original look.

    Gary"
    Daily Thought: SOME PEOPLE ARE LIKE SLINKIES..... NOT REALLY GOOD FOR ANYTHING BUT THEY BRING A SMILE TO YOUR FACE WHEN PUSHED DOWN THE STAIRS...............

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