The Forestry Forum

Other topics for members => General Woodworking => Topic started by: Eciton on July 16, 2021, 08:30:53 PM

Title: Refinishing a table and chairs less.... shiny
Post by: Eciton on July 16, 2021, 08:30:53 PM
i bought a solid wood (mahogony? cherry?) table and chair set but the finish on them looks unnatural and plasticy to me.  its VERY shiny and looks more boardroom than dining room.

I want to strip the finish and refin in something more natural that lets the wood look like wood.  

here are some pics of the table and chairs.
(https://forestryforum.com/gallery/albums/userpics/63764/table_1~0.jpeg?easyrotate_cache=1626481776)
 
(https://forestryforum.com/gallery/albums/userpics/63764/table_3~0.jpeg?easyrotate_cache=1626481775)
 
(https://forestryforum.com/gallery/albums/userpics/63764/table_2~0.jpeg?easyrotate_cache=1626481774)
 

suggestions?
Title: Re: Refinishing a table and chairs less.... shiny
Post by: doc henderson on July 16, 2021, 09:33:22 PM
there are ways to identify the finish as lacquer vs polyurethane,  the final coat determines the sheen.  so if its poly, then you could apply a satin over the surface if the underlying surface is good after a light sanding (320 grit).  if you want to strip it then anything is possible.  wonder if there is a stain under that for color, or if that is natural.  if it is stained, then you are starting from scratch.  if natural then general finish has some nice clear wipe on poly, that does not impart a yellow color.  I would turn it over to see if there is an unfinished area or a place to experiment on to see what is what.  if you scratch and area and it is a white wood that has been artistically stained and finished to look like and expensive elegant piece, I would leave well enough alone.  I did that with a table and chairs I got from my grandmother, wished I left is alone.
Title: Re: Refinishing a table and chairs less.... shiny
Post by: doc henderson on July 16, 2021, 09:37:21 PM
If you want to add to the current finish, you can google the order and type of solvent to test for finish type.  hope you find what you are looking for.
Title: Re: Refinishing a table and chairs less.... shiny
Post by: Larry on July 16, 2021, 09:49:17 PM
I sometimes knock down a new gloss finish with 4/0 steel wool.  You need to rub with the grain and it works best with a lubricant.  I often use wax.  Try it first on say the bottom of the table to insure you will like the finish.

Their are other abrasives that will do the same with varying degrees of sheen.  Scotch Brite and seems like pumice is also used.

Title: Re: Refinishing a table and chairs less.... shiny
Post by: doc henderson on July 16, 2021, 11:06:13 PM
the underside may not have finish on it.  it may be stained that color as in the last photo, the rising end grain seems to be "redder" than the rest of the wood.
Title: Re: Refinishing a table and chairs less.... shiny
Post by: kantuckid on July 21, 2021, 09:31:43 AM
Do they still mfg Formby's antique refinisher? It doesn't strip poly though but it leaves some old patina used per instructions.
That's not mahogany, it's cherry, birch or maple? with a cherry stain. I lean toward birch 1st or maple 2nd. Looks OK as is to me? ;D Rub down per below use of wax and polish & use it w/o a refinish job. I hate stripping/refinishing.

The dilemma with a table finish is  the "look" vs. the "serviceability". On table tops I like the new poly-wipe finishes-Minwax & Watco are the same.
I use satin poly wipe and brush on a 1st coat liberally, then dry sand with 320 to remove nibs and brush marks. Subsequent coats I wipe on with a lint free rag from the can directly. I've tried foam brushes but like a rag best. If your filling the grain it may require two brushed on coats. If your more into ala naturale as you suggest, on that dense wood, a couple of coats will suffice. Poly gives a water wipeable surface.
Some sprayed modern lacquers are also a possibility to use if you have a gun.
I do as larry above on many finishes- 0000 steel wool in combo with paste wax. Auto body ultrafine 3m scouring pads also work well. I like dark Minwax paste wax but it's become pricy like most stuff lately. Rub on all over, then wipe with a cloth then using a terry towel to polish turning as you'd do on a car wax job. Issue with any paste wax is lazy guests who put glasses on stuff then you get white rings-ask how I know... :D
Teak oil is another choice I like.
Title: Re: Refinishing a table and chairs less.... shiny
Post by: WDH on July 21, 2021, 10:36:54 AM
Make sure it is real wood and not a thin veneer over composite core.  Look at end grain to see if it has real “wood growth rings”.  

The wood is cherry. 
Title: Re: Refinishing a table and chairs less.... shiny
Post by: btulloh on July 21, 2021, 11:35:22 AM
If the sheen is all that’s bothering you with the existing finish I’d rub it out with powdered pumice and mineral oil and be done with it. 
Title: Re: Refinishing a table and chairs less.... shiny
Post by: kantuckid on July 21, 2021, 12:20:15 PM
The old fashioned way was pumice for a rough rub and rottenstone for a finer rub. In using wax with scuff pads or fine wool the finish looks about he same more easily. I never much cared for using pumice and found rottenstone wasn't needed given how wax turns out. 
The more anal among us can go far beyond what I consider logical on a wood finish and use an automotive ultra fine wet or dry paper. Honestly IMO they serve little purpose on a wood finish and are intended to enhance a clearcoat finish that has issues as sprayed. Wood is wood and not a perfect thing to begin with. Once you get past the human eye's potential it's a waste? 
The stain's a tint often used on cherry. 
If veneer I rub it out somehow not a re-do.  
All IMO of course... ;D
Title: Re: Refinishing a table and chairs less.... shiny
Post by: btulloh on July 21, 2021, 12:35:52 PM
You make a lot good points. Well said. 

Title: Re: Refinishing a table and chairs less.... shiny
Post by: Eciton on July 25, 2021, 11:55:56 AM
thanks all.  i had forgotten to turn on notifications so sorry for the delay!

it is def solid wood and is a similar reddish on the underside the top but not finished with any shiny.   Just FYI i found a tag under the table and chairs that says "Nichols and Stone"

I really just want to dull it down some and fix a couple items, there are a couple dings but i dont really care about that so much, but one of the seats has a wicked scratch through the finish though down to the wood and there is a small 1/4'' chip in the finish on the table.
(https://forestryforum.com/gallery/albums/userpics/63764/underside_table.jpeg?easyrotate_cache=1627228522)
 
(https://forestryforum.com/gallery/albums/userpics/63764/scratched_chair.jpeg?easyrotate_cache=1627228521)
 
(https://forestryforum.com/gallery/albums/userpics/63764/table_chip.jpeg?easyrotate_cache=1627228521)
 

i am not going to lie, the idea of striping 7 chairs and a table is not appealing to me, but i would like to spruce it up a little.



Title: Re: Refinishing a table and chairs less.... shiny
Post by: doc henderson on July 25, 2021, 12:08:56 PM
not sure how old it is, but with a bar code, I wonder if the manufacturer could help with finish and stain ID.  any stain that is close will make the chip and scratches less noticeable.  some finish cannot go over other finish.  so you might test a spot, and see.  at least you know it is stained white wood and striping would be a pain.  fine sanding with wax will work.  for a daily used table, I would try to use poly or something more durable and somewhat water repelling/proof.  a final coat of satin poly would spruce up the whole set.
Title: Re: Refinishing a table and chairs less.... shiny
Post by: kantuckid on July 25, 2021, 02:54:59 PM
The company comes up easily on google as operational in Gardner, MA. I'd call them and ask for the person who knows your particulars. I'd also not re-finish the entire shebang. Once you know the finish a repair mode will be revealed. Very often sprayed lacquers these days and VOC compliant water based. The scratch IMO is repairable. The table I'd do as suggested back above-steel wool and paste wax. One seller that has lots of finish choices is Klingspor Woodworking in Hickory, NC-there are others which sell the odder stuff. 
Title: Re: Refinishing a table and chairs less.... shiny
Post by: doc henderson on July 25, 2021, 03:33:29 PM
i agree that steel wool and wax would lesson the sheen.  if you can match the stain, and recoat all with a similar finish, it should look and wear as new. just finish with a satin top coat.  take a pic of the bar code and send it to the manufacturer.
Title: Re: Refinishing a table and chairs less.... shiny
Post by: Eciton on July 26, 2021, 03:29:01 PM
thanks guys. company was no help since it was bought by another company in 2008 and the table was made in 2001.  they had no input on finish.

is there a finish that can go overtop of anything no matter what?
Title: Re: Refinishing a table and chairs less.... shiny
Post by: kantuckid on July 26, 2021, 03:51:53 PM
One means to learn the finish is to experiment on a small unseen area of the underside. I'd begin with lacquer thinner but you might not keep solvents on hand? I have many, many so easier for me to say and experiment. Might google "how to determine a wood finish"? I'll say this again-> it is very likely a water based lacquer. Lots of those to buy in a box store. I personally never use them.  Formby's antiques stripper gallon cans had a sequence on them as that stripper would not remove poly finishes-which I doubt that is from a factory.  
A serious challenge to recoat a modern piece of furniture is the silicones housewives slather on them-PLEDGE! and similar is the scourge of refinishing. On vehicles a strong detergent or product made for silicone removals works OK but furniture isn't real hose worthy like a vehicle. It can be very hard to get it all. The least bit and the finish will separate into round fisheyes. 
Naptha is a good "in-between solvent that is less likely to soften most any finish yet cleans better than mineral spirits which are sort of oily in nature. 
If you go all---the---way and strip this stuff-good luck vs the wax/steel wool ;Dregimen ;D.   
Title: Re: Refinishing a table and chairs less.... shiny
Post by: btulloh on July 26, 2021, 06:48:35 PM
Shellac will go over or under anything.  A light coat of blond dewaxed is the ticket. You can use that is a buffer. Zinnser makes a premixed shellac in can or spray that works fine if you’re not used to mixing your own.

I still think you can repair the damage and work with the finish that’s on it.  It can onle be a couple things and lacquer is the most likely. And that will be over a stain or dye. 

Kantuckid brings up some important points, especially the silicon issue. 

A little experimenting will tell you a lot about the existing finish. 

Title: Re: Refinishing a table and chairs less.... shiny
Post by: Tom King on July 26, 2021, 08:06:30 PM
Restore-a-Finish has worked a few miracles for me.  It'll blend those dings, and scratches back in, and may do the whole job for you.

I'm liking using a white 3m pad better than steel wool, since the first time I tried one.  Have since bought a box of each grit (color).  The boxes have rolls with perforations, that let you tear off one piece the same size that they're sold in packages of three for a lot more money each pad.
Title: Re: Refinishing a table and chairs less.... shiny
Post by: kantuckid on July 27, 2021, 07:14:27 AM
I think Formby's Antique restorer and the restore a finish are the same stuff-both are on Amazon plus box stores. They will not work on some modern finishes. You test a spot to find out. I used Formby's a couple of weeks ago on an oak bedroom chest from my MIL's estate that had the original stain/varnish finish on it. I used Formby's with 00 steel wool, then cleaned it up with isopropol alcohol and rags, then a re-stain of a cherry brown tone stain that matches the original well, then WATCO Teak oil several coats, lastly the 0000 steel wool and dark Minwax paste wax.
Shellac is a beautiful finish that I began with a very long time ago. Old type oil varnishes also bring out the best in woods. Shellac-it's also highly repairable but it is not as durable in use as a truly serious, modern table top finish for a daily use table. Over time it does craze as well. There are reasons it's less used these days.
As a guy who firmly believed that a zillion coats of oil on a gunstock was the trick, I gotta admit that the new poly wipe finishes have a great look. I do a WATCO Danish to pop- the grain and color then after the 72 hour window I apply a brush coat of poly, sand with 320 and a flat sanding block then lint free cloth. If you don't have spray equipment (I do) or a really clean environment, it's a very controllable finish regimen.
AB supply has various brands of 3m pads-MIrka and 3m mostly and I buy the large ones/sheets like 5"x7"?, in a box then cut with scissors to each use. 
Title: Re: Refinishing a table and chairs less.... shiny
Post by: btulloh on July 27, 2021, 09:17:06 AM
Found a good article on silicone contamination. Highland woodworking - silicone (https://www.highlandwoodworking.com/woodworking-tips-1603mar/silicone-contamination-finishing-tip.html)

Just to clarify my earlier post about shellac, I recommend it as a seal coat over an old finish if you’re applying a different finish over top. It’s really not good as a top coat on a table. Too easy to damage with heat or cocktails. Probably only appropriate for a top coat on something like an end table for a formal finish like french polishing. 

Acetone on a q tip will dissolve lacquer but merely soften varnish. It will just bead up on polyurethane. 
Title: Re: Refinishing a table and chairs less.... shiny
Post by: kantuckid on July 28, 2021, 07:31:09 AM
VG article on wood finishing. "Cratering" was the word my brain couldn't produce.  FWIW, that doesn't work in an AB shop to ad silicone-unless I missed something?
Another aspect of refinishing a table top is gravity-it works in your favor! as the finish flows more easily but of course everything shows good & bad. 
Title: Re: Refinishing a table and chairs less.... shiny
Post by: Brad_S. on September 04, 2021, 11:35:58 PM
Many (most?) modern finishes on hard use items today are catalyzed lacquer/conversion varnish. Most solvents don't touch the stuff. The only thing I found truly effective in removing it is methylene chloride which can no longer be purchased at the retail level and is tightly controlled.