First Time Project - midcentury coffee table - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 5 Old 08-31-2017, 07:44 PM Thread Starter
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First Time Project - midcentury coffee table

I am hoping I took on something small to be my first refinishing project. While there is plenty of information on the web about refinishing - none of it is the same. I would really appreciate some solid feedback on the best approach for this project. The table is a little unstable, one leg has a split, and someone in years past put 2 silver screws on one end (red circle in photo) in an attempt to stabilize which need to go. Photos below. White sections are not wood - formica and/or laminate I'm guessing. Took a photo of the bottom also so may help to see how it will come apart. Thanks so much in advance for any advice you may have.

Dropbox photos:

https://www.dropbox.com/s/5givir8ray...20PM.jpeg?dl=0

https://www.dropbox.com/s/vvyeo034t3...20PM.jpeg?dl=0

https://www.dropbox.com/s/ggj6sbe7hp...20PM.jpeg?dl=0

https://www.dropbox.com/s/flv47osnex...20PM.jpeg?dl=0

https://www.dropbox.com/s/dzus3mvukt...20PM.jpeg?dl=0
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post #2 of 5 Old 08-31-2017, 08:36 PM
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With any refinishing project the first step is to strip the old finish off with a paint and varnish remover. Pretty much follow the instructions with what ever remover you use. The best retail remover I've used is Klean Strip Premium remover. You brush on a liberal amount of remover keeping the remover wet for about 15 minutes. Then as quickly as possible scrape off the old finish and remover and rinse it. You can rinse it off with lacquer thinner frequently changing rags. You can also use a power washer that is low pressure or can be adjusted down to about 1200 psi. It's important to get the residue off completely. Removers contain wax to retard evaporation so if you don't get this wax off it will interfere with the new finish.

If the table has formica on it try as much as possible not to get the stripper on it. It has the potential of getting a stain on it and remover wet enough that gets under it can lift it. Generally if you have an accident you should be able to clean the laminate off with lacquer thinner.

Once stripped then do what ever repairs needed. It may be necessary to disassemble the table to reglue it. When regluing joints the wood is sealed with the old glue so it's important to use an adhesive for nonporous surfaces. Two part epoxy is good for that application however because of the time needed to assemble the parts you should look for a slow drying epoxy. You may need as much as an hour open time regluing the table by the time you clamp everything and clean what ever glue you get on the surface.

The table is made of American Walnut. Typically with walnut especially of that era you don't want to see the texture of the open grain in the finish. You may wish to use a pastewood grain filler to fill the grain prior to finishing. It's like a thin wood putty you brush on and let thicken. Then rub it off in a circular motion filling the grain and removing the excess from the surface. Sherwin Williams sells a wood filler however I think it only comes in a natural color. They can tint it to a walnut color for you. If you wish to order some you might consider this one. http://www.mohawk-finishing.com/cata...asp?ictNbr=105 The walnut grain filler already comes tinted.

Once you get all the repairs made, sanded and grain filled you should be able to mask off the formica and just clear coat it with what ever finish you choose. I would recommend a nitrocellulose lacquer. It's quick and easy to do but must be sprayed.
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post #3 of 5 Old 08-31-2017, 08:54 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Neul View Post
........If the table has formica on it try as much as possible not to get the stripper on it. It has the potential of getting a stain on it and remover wet enough that gets under it can lift it. Generally if you have an accident you should be able to clean the laminate off with lacquer thinner.......
There appears to be screw clips on the bottom holding in the formica pieces - I was going to remove those before stripping etc. Unless you think that could pose an issue in reassembly later? pic of bottom: https://www.dropbox.com/s/dzus3mvukt...20PM.jpeg?dl=0
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post #4 of 5 Old 08-31-2017, 08:58 PM
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If you can get the formica panels out of the table that would be great. One less thing to have to worry about.
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post #5 of 5 Old 08-31-2017, 09:23 PM
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This is a very nice table and certainly worth a restoration. I'm guessing the legs were originally joined by mortise and Tenon. When the joints got loose, the previous owner installed the screws. A very bad decision but one you might correct by re-gluing the joints after you've stripped the old finish and doweling through the joints to lock the joints and to fill the holes made by the screws. Good luck to you.
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If you don't have time to do it right the first time, when will you have time to do it over?
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