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post #1 of 16 Old 06-18-2012, 10:55 PM Thread Starter
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Can someone help identify this finish?

I'm refinishing the cabinetry in a 1962 Airstream trailer. Most of the woodwork has a quartersawn oak veneer on it. I initially thought it was white oak, but after sanding it looks like it could be red oak. The finish is a translucent yellowish/white. It sands of very easily, and hasn't penetrated the wood fibers at all (finish is entirely on the surface). I'm certain this is the original 1962 finish. Being that old, is it likely to be a shellac? And if so, how would they have gotten it to a whitish/yellow color? Below are some pictures. The side on the left is the sanded area without any finish. The right is the finished side which has been covered since it was new by a mirror. Unfortunately the pictures don't show the difference very well. It's more pronounced in person.

Thanks,
Brent
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post #2 of 16 Old 06-18-2012, 11:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Thalweg View Post
I'm refinishing the cabinetry in a 1962 Airstream trailer. Most of the woodwork has a quartersawn oak veneer on it. I initially thought it was white oak, but after sanding it looks like it could be red oak. The finish is a translucent yellowish/white. It sands of very easily, and hasn't penetrated the wood fibers at all (finish is entirely on the surface). I'm certain this is the original 1962 finish. Being that old, is it likely to be a shellac? And if so, how would they have gotten it to a whitish/yellow color? Below are some pictures. The side on the left is the sanded area without any finish. The right is the finished side which has been covered since it was new by a mirror. Unfortunately the pictures don't show the difference very well. It's more pronounced in person.

Thanks,
Brent
Although i wouldn't rule out it might be acrylic lacquer, it most likely was nitrocellulose which would yellow out over time. yes it's red oak it was done by making a lacquer toner of white and clear and spray applied evenly at the factory.

Sincerely,

CHEMMY

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post #3 of 16 Old 06-18-2012, 11:45 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks much Chemmy. That makes sense. I don't have a lot of experience shooting lacquer, so I guess it's time to get some practice.

I really appreciate the help.

Brent

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post #4 of 16 Old 06-19-2012, 04:40 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Thalweg View Post
I'm refinishing the cabinetry in a 1962 Airstream trailer. Most of the woodwork has a quartersawn oak veneer on it. I initially thought it was white oak, but after sanding it looks like it could be red oak. The finish is a translucent yellowish/white. It sands of very easily, and hasn't penetrated the wood fibers at all (finish is entirely on the surface). I'm certain this is the original 1962 finish. Being that old, is it likely to be a shellac? And if so, how would they have gotten it to a whitish/yellow color? Below are some pictures. The side on the left is the sanded area without any finish. The right is the finished side which has been covered since it was new by a mirror. Unfortunately the pictures don't show the difference very well. It's more pronounced in person.

Thanks,
Brent
Thge wood (veneer) appears not to be quartersawn Red Oak, but rather a rift cut, AKA 'plain slice'. That was more often used, as it was more easily used in concert with walls, panels, and cabinetry. Back then, a common finish was just sanding sealer, and topcoating with a 'finishing lacquer' which was nitrocellulose lacquer. It would have been an oddity for any toners to be used (unless a special order). The unmolested finish you show from behind the mirror bears out a natural darkening with age.





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post #5 of 16 Old 06-19-2012, 06:48 AM
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If you are wanting to reproduce the appearance of the original finish you can add white pigmented lacquer in small amounts to the clear lacquer. In small amounts it will still be transparent. If it isn't yellow enough you can first put a coat of orange shellac and topcoat it with lacquer. You just can't use poly over conventional shellac. Personally if it were me I would abandon the original look and just finish the oak with clear oil based polyurethane.
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post #6 of 16 Old 06-20-2012, 09:47 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the opinions. Right now I'm kind of torn as to what approach to take. I've been leaning toward the lacquer/toner approach, after a shellac under coat. So I've been trying to find a dye that approaches the existing color. Unfortunately there are no local sources for dyes around here, so I have to look over the internet, and it's tough to get a good sense of what things would look like. If I don't use a toner, I'd probably use a polyurethane. I don't have much experience with lacquer, and I don't have a spray booth, so controlling dust while shooting lacquer will be challenging, but I'd manage that if need be. Basically, what I'm trying to say is that I don't see an advantage to lacquer if I don't use a toner.

So, I think I'm going to order some dye and experiment on some oak plywood. The big complicating factor is my wife. She likes the color it is now. I'd be happy with something simpler, but if I go with simpler, my life may become more complicated otherwise.

I really appreciate all your help. I didn't have any good direction prior to your advice.

Brent

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post #7 of 16 Old 06-21-2012, 10:18 AM
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If you are going to use polyurethane and shellac, be sure you use a dewaxed shellac. Polyurethane is not recommended over standard shellac.

There are places online which sell dyes in powder form which can be mixed with alcohol. A golden oil aniline dye will give a yellow color however it will be in the wood rather than in the finish like shellac. I know these dye powders can be added to lacquer but I'm not sure they can be added to polyurethane. I would contact the supplier for that info. You can buy all of these paint supplies online. Mohawk Finishing Products will have just about anything you could need for any finishing project. The biggest problem is shipping, because they charge a pretty large hazzardous material fee to the order. Some of these supplies may be available through a large paint company such as Sherwin Williams. You just would probably have to order them because the individual stores are more tuned to house paint than professional finishes. As far as spraying lacquer, it is probably the easiest thing you can spray. It dries to touch in just a couple of minutes so dust really isn't a issue. You don't need a spray booth, you just need to make sure no open flames are present or electrical appliances are turned on of off while you have vapors airborne. The vapors can be almost as explosive as gasoline.
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post #8 of 16 Old 06-22-2012, 12:00 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks Steve,

I stopped into Sherwin Williams tonight. The guy there was very helpful. He mixed us up some stain that very closely approximates the color on the cabinets now. The wife really likes it, and thatís 90% of the battle. He said heís had some success using the stain as dye in lacquer. So this weekend Iím going to do some experimenting. Iím going to try the stain directly on some oak veneer plywood just as Iíd normally do, and try a lacquer topcoat and a poly topcoat and see how that goes. I might also try one with some sort of sanding sealer. I know I canít use shellac with the poly, so maybe I can find some kind of wood conditioner. I may also try the stain as a toner. If I do, Iíll do a shellac sealer, lacquer clear coat, toned lacquer coats, then another lacquer clear coat.

I know Iím probably too worried about the lacquer. That comes from difficulties with painting cars with lacquer paint about 30 years ago. Just paranoia I guess.

Iíll let you know how it all works out.

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post #9 of 16 Old 06-22-2012, 12:24 AM
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I'm curious what type of stain they said to use in lacquer for a toner. I don't think my Sherwin Williams has anything that is compatible to mix with lacquer.
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post #10 of 16 Old 06-22-2012, 06:24 PM Thread Starter
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Steve,

It's just an oil base interior wood stain. It looks like it's xylene based. The guy at SW says he's used it with no problems. He said just to use a very small amount in the lacquer. I plan on trying it on scap this weekend to see what happens. Do you think I'm going to have problems?

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post #11 of 16 Old 06-22-2012, 06:38 PM
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It's just an oil base interior wood stain. It looks like it's xylene based. The guy at SW says he's used it with no problems. He said just to use a very small amount in the lacquer. I plan on trying it on scap this weekend to see what happens. Do you think I'm going to have problems?
A stain quality mixed in with lacquer to lighten a finish turns into just a color. Any tint or color like Japan Colors, can be mixed in lacquer. I would stick with compatible chemicals. You shouldn't need much just to tint.






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post #12 of 16 Old 06-22-2012, 06:53 PM
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Steve,

It's just an oil base interior wood stain. It looks like it's xylene based. The guy at SW says he's used it with no problems. He said just to use a very small amount in the lacquer. I plan on trying it on scap this weekend to see what happens. Do you think I'm going to have problems?
I can't really say but it doesn't feel right to me. From time to time I will jump the gun and put lacquer over an oil stain before it is completely dry and there is all kinds of chemical reactions. Sometimes the lacquer turns snow white in the crevasses and sometimes turns orange. Then over the long term it creates adhesions problems. Without ever having tried it my instincts say not to mix oil stain in lacquer. If you can wait until Monday I will see what the manager at my Sherwin Williams says.
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post #13 of 16 Old 06-22-2012, 08:52 PM Thread Starter
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It seems like the consensus is that this might be a bad idea, but I think I might experiment just to see what happens. However, it's highly unlikely that I'd be able to get to the point of shooting the experimental stain-toned lacquer this weekend as I've got a lot of projects going on. So it would be interesting to hear what your SW managers opinion of this process is. Fortunately I've got some time before I have to decide what to do with this. I've got a LOT on sanding to do before finish will go on.

It occurred to me today that I'll be going to Colorado in about three weeks. Therefore I could pick up some dye at Woodcraft when there.

Thanks much for all your help

Brent

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post #14 of 16 Old 06-23-2012, 08:45 PM
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>>>> I know I can’t use shellac with the poly,

Sure you can it just that the shellac you use needs to be dewaxed. You can either buy dewaxed shellac flakes and mix your own or buy Zinsser SealCoat which is a 100% dewaxed shellac in a 2# cut.

Howie..........
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post #15 of 16 Old 06-25-2012, 06:32 PM
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It seems like the consensus is that this might be a bad idea, but I think I might experiment just to see what happens. However, it's highly unlikely that I'd be able to get to the point of shooting the experimental stain-toned lacquer this weekend as I've got a lot of projects going on. So it would be interesting to hear what your SW managers opinion of this process is. Fortunately I've got some time before I have to decide what to do with this. I've got a LOT on sanding to do before finish will go on.

It occurred to me today that I'll be going to Colorado in about three weeks. Therefore I could pick up some dye at Woodcraft when there.

Thanks much for all your help

Brent
I talked to the manager at Sherwin Williams today and he said the oil stain was not compatible with lacquer and he didn't recommend using it. He pointed out something I hadn't thought of, the stain and lacquer would not mix and the lacquer would quickly dry suspending the wet stain in the finish. By doing that you would break down the integrity of the lacquer and greatly reduce the durability of the finish. This is why I try not to play chemist with finishes. There is so many different products that work well alone but are not compatible with each other to mix them.
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post #16 of 16 Old 06-26-2012, 07:30 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for looking into that. I guess with that information I won't pursue that avenue any further. Fortunately my experiments with the stain and polyurethane have turned out very well. It recreates the original look very well. So I think that's the way I'm going to go. I'll post some pictures when I'm done.

Thanks much for all your help.

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