Stickley Table - Refinish Problem

Brent Dowell

Staff member
Reno NV
So, A friend of mine recently moved across the country. She had purchased a pretty nice Stickly table with some inlays in the corners.

During the move, the mover managed to mistreat the table and ding it up pretty bad.

When confronted with the damage, the mover had a local 'Wood Doctor' work on the table to fix the gouges.

The wood doctor said that they contacted stickley for advice on a finish to use to fix the table.

Now, here are the befores and afters.

It appear that the 'Wood Doctor' sanded the entire table top to remove the finish, stained it a slightly different color, and put in a different finish.

The owner has noticed that the 'new' finish has a completely different feel. Apparently, before it had a very nice smooth, almost glassy feel.

Now it is dull, and the wood doctor has told her to just 'wax' it to get it to have the same feel.

The other problem as I see it is that the inlay used to have some very sharp and crisp colors. It looks to me that the light colors have now been muddied up either by sanding the darker woods into it's pores, or from some kind of stain the 'wood doctor' applied.

We have no idea what kind of topcoat this 'wood doctor' applied, but what we do know is that it no longer has the same smooth tactile feel it had before the move.

The questions are:
1) Do you think this table has been damaged? Should the shipping company have to make amends above and beyond the damange this wood doctor has done.
2) Can this table be fixed? I.e. Can this stain and finish be removed? Can the inlay be salvaged? Could another skilled artisan fix the damage?

Any suggestions/help would be appreciated.

Thanks in advance for your help.

Table Before

Table After I know it could be the camera, but the red color is gone and now it's more of an 'oakey brown'

Inlay before, Clean lines, light colored sections are light colored


Inlay after. The light colors are stained somewhat darker, the dark colors are very dark and muddy.
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Ryan Mooney

Staff member
The Gorge Area, Oregon
Looking at the inlay I'm going to bet that the discoloration there is due to whatever stain/topcoat the "wood doctor" (butcher?) used. I don't know how fixable it is, I suspect that depends on how deep the new stain went in, might be lucky might not - I do look forward to seeing what some of the experts have to say on this one.

Personally I'd be pursuing $$'s for loss of value and proper restoration of this piece, although I don't know exactly how much its worth I'm sure its not a cheap piece!!

Michele Shaw

Brent: Thank you for posting this!

Kind people of the forum: It's my sad table. FWIW, I used the exact same camera to take all the pics, although the lighting in the new place is a little dimmer, it's not much better in my old place--that was a dim room for sure. I can try to get some pics in daylight but if it would help, I have several other pieces that use the same finish from Stickley and I can pull out the leaves and do a "compare and contrast" for both color and shine if that would help. He unfortunately had to fix all of the pieces to some extent and most of them are fine...they were small dents, scratches, etc and he did ok with those since there was no sanding down or complete refinishing needed.

One other thing: the bedroom end tables he worked on are now scratching crazy easily--they are much less resilient than previously. I think all he did for those was fill in some scratches and buff them out. Is there anything I can do to save those without trying to get the company to replace?

It was a corporate move, and I suspect they will give me a super hard time for any additional asks I have, but I'm really bummed about the table. definitely wasn't cheap!

I really appreciate any advice at all on what can be done at this point.

Thank you so much!

Carol Reed

In Memoriam
Coolidge, AZ
Hope Dave Hawksford chimes in. Hope I got the last name right. He is our resident expert on finishes and especially refinishing. He is also a very talented artist.

Vaughn McMillan

Staff member
Looks to me like they stained the inlay with the same Minwax crap they used on the rest of the top. And the color "match" on the top is so far off, I suspect a colorblind llama picked out the stain. Hopefully Dave can chime in with advice, but I'd be livid about the job this so-called "doctor" performed. The color mismatch is inexcusable; staining the inlays is borderline criminal.

The tactile difference is probably because the new clear coat was not rubbed out and buffed to the same glass-like flatness that the original finish had.

The moving company carries insurance to cover this sort of thing. Personally, I'd cut them no slack until the table was either repaired back to original condition or replaced. And no way would I let this particular wood doctor touch it again.

larry merlau

Delton, Michigan
i agree with vaughn on this trouble, michelle. and dave hawksford would make it right for you but there is a lady in nevada that does very nice work will need to get her name, she teaches woodworking.
Austin, Texas
Michele, welcome to the forum

I agree that it looks like they sanded and stained the top - doing a terrible job at it.

A corporate move gives you much more leverage than a private move... the moving company gives corporations a special price to get "all" their business, accepts normal payment (rather than small unmarked bills of a total you don't know in advance, before they unload the furniture), etc. Therefore the mover (or your corporate liaison with the movers) have LOTS more leverage - the mover wants to protect their corporate client. They should be liable for both the damage of the mover, and the damage caused by the incompetent repair service (even if the repair service is a national franchise).

Wood Doctor is a franchise... when they are looking to expand, it is amazing how short their training program can become (they have tried to sell me a franchise in the past). I would refuse to let them touch my table - you already complained to them, and gave them the opportunity to fix it, and it is obvious from the answer that they don't see or understand the problem.

I am not a refinishing expert, although I do some... Dave's advice will be better. But I expect the best solution would be a chemical finish remover - which generally removes stain in addition to the mystery top coat. With the finish gone, if dye was used, there will still be some color which can generally be removed with bleach (Clorox laundry bleach, not intense wood bleach). For example, if Minwax was used, it is a combo of both stain and dye, so both processes may be required. I would then check if the color can be brought out with a good sanding sealer rather than a stain or dye. The color surrounding the inlay "before" looks like it could be natural Cherry wood, perhaps aged a bit after a clear finish was applied - my sister has a Stickley table with the same inlay, and it is cherry, so with cherry the pretty tan color emerges in a few months after a clear finish is applied.

Good luck

Let us know the moving company - for additional leverage (especially when you post how well they resolved your problem).
On your end table he probably just used a touch up stick and then gave it a shot of rattle can lacquer and more than likely the original finish was Catalyzed lacquer. It will never hold up like the original finish. I would be all over that moving co to make this right and that table will take a LOT to get it back to where it was, if you can get there at all.
Outside the beltway
Brent, I get calls from Stickly owners a lot. Most are sent to me by the stickly Teck who know I work with Stickly. I've done this exact table . It has glass on the top and water got under while the customer was away damaging the finish. I also found out that stickly uses a low quality finish and they even told me what I use was a top line compared to theirs.

The table can be fixed but with out eye's on and knowing the other finishers process it would be a bit of a tack. And a high $$$$$$ redo.

Michele Shaw

To EVERYONE who has replied to this thread, with special thanks to Brent for posting it and Dave Hawksford who has been in touch with me with some superb suggestions...THANK YOU. I can't tell you how much I appreciate the help. And...if you're ever in Sacramento, looks us up---I'd love to buy you the adult beverage of your choosing to say personal thanks for the help. I will keep you up to date on how it goes from here...I've reached out to Stickley for their opinion and also the local contact that Dave was kind enough to steps will be to have the argument with the movers about fixing it "for real" this time. I'll hopefully be posting some much prettier table pictures in the future.

Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Michele Shaw

Hi everyone, I wanted to circle back now that we finally have our table back--and first, a huge thanks again to Brent and Dave for their help! Much appreciated.

We did go with a guy that Dave vetted, and we now have our table back! I need to post some pictures! The inlays are mightily improved--not all the way back to bright (I think they were really stained pretty badly, but he did a great job bringing the white colors back up), and the surface of the dining room table is also much nicer to the touch than before. Those who suggested that the color would never be the same after the original "fix" were unfortunately spot on. It's definitely improved, but it's not all the way back to the original finish.

The two end tables are 100% better now.

I will post pics, I promise!

and again, thanks so much for letting me "crash" your party--really appreciate all your input and help!