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Refinishing a table and chairs less.... shiny

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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.





doc henderson:
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.

doc henderson:
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.

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.

doc henderson:
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.


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