Refinishing antique mahogany - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 46 Old 03-08-2014, 04:54 AM Thread Starter
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Refinishing antique mahogany

My grandmother has a dresser with a mirror on top of it made out of mahogany. It was apparently bought when my great great grandparents got married. According to her, it was painted an ugly brown color, beneath that white, and god knows what under/before that. Anyways, she knows this because she stripped the wood, she wasn't too clear, but she says it was way back in the 70s or something, and repainted it. I don't know when it was bought exactly, but I know my great grandparents (who are still alive) are in their 90s, so this is at least over 100 years old.

When she repainted it, she used an ugly green color that she was in at the time. She used some sort of paint that was supposed to make it look old and antique. She also put little indents in the wood while doing this, although these are very minor.

So, my recommendation was to sand it, put a dark stain on it, and then some clear Shellac to give it a look like it may have looked when it was originally bought. She says sanding may be too rough on it, and that chemical paint removers would work, then sand it (as in, sanding it to break the paint is too much sanding, but a light sanding is fine). Although, I agree with her, mainly because I think there is lead in that paint due to it's age.

So I'm wondering: what's the best thing to do to refinish it?

To be clear, this furniture has drawers and a mirror on it, not 100% wood. This makes it a big harder. It's also "curvery" in shape.
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post #2 of 46 Old 03-08-2014, 07:02 AM
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Carefully remove the mirror from the frame if you can. I would use an MC (methylene chloride) based stripper. One of the strongest I've found is called 'Aircraft Stripper' in a blue quart can. Follow directions, and use in a well ventilated area. Use long chemically resistant gloves and face/eye protection. It's thick like a gel, and will remove the finish. You can scrape off loose debris with a putty knife or a plastic Bondo spreader. Clean remainding residue with a lacquer wipe down.

Once dry, it can be sanded if necessary.





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post #3 of 46 Old 03-08-2014, 07:42 AM
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"My grandmother has a dresser with a mirror on top of it made out of mahogany."

Is this post only about the mirror or the whole dresser?

George
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post #4 of 46 Old 03-08-2014, 07:59 AM Thread Starter
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"My grandmother has a dresser with a mirror on top of it made out of mahogany."

Is this post only about the mirror or the whole dresser?

George
The entire thing. I'm just saying that not only is it a dresser, but it has a mirror frame attached to it, with a mirror in it.
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post #5 of 46 Old 03-08-2014, 09:09 AM
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Start with removing the mirror glass and hardware. The chemicals can damage the silver on the glass. Anyway handling something with stripper on it is slimy and the mirror frame could easily be dropped. Stripping mahogany furniture that has been painted is difficult. The paint gets into the grain and that is furniture that was painted over the existed finish. Stripping it first and then applying paint you will never get the paint off of it yourself. I would recommend having a professional with a flow over stripping system strip the furniture for you. You wouldn't hurt anything to give it a try though. Just keep in mind that no remover works well below 70 degrees so wait until warm weather to do the project. If you do get 80-90 percent of the paint off it will cost less to have a professional to finish the job. I normally use Kleen Strip paint and varnish remover. It is available at the box stores and even Wal-Mart. Stripping paint is different than stripping varnish. It comes off one layer at a time. If it has 10 coats of paint on it you pretty much have to strip it 10 times. You brush on a liberal coat of the remover keeping it wet with the remover for 15 to 20 minutes. Work only one side at a time because the remover is bad to dry on you and working too much of it at one time is too much for one person. Once the finish is loosened then you take a broad knife and squeegee the layer of paint off and apply a fresh coat to the next layer. Once you get to bare wood you might use a brass stripping brush to remove as much of the paint out of the grain and crevasses. Once you scrape the wood for the last time the remover is trying to dry very quickly so as quick as possible wash the residue off. What a professional refinisher does is wash the residue off with a power washer that is low pressure. It should be less than 1500 psi to keep from damaging the wood. The power washer is very important when removing paint. It is the only thing that will lift the paint out of the grain and crevasses. If the power washer isn't an option you can use lacquer thinner and rags. It's important to get all the residue cleaned off as removers contain wax to retard evaporation. This wax can interfere with the new finish and can't be sanded off. Sanding just spreads it around.

The mahogany wood has a open grain and to restore to original condition it is traditional to fill the grain with a pastewood grain filler. I use Mohawk’s grain filler, http://www.mohawk-finishing.com/catalog_browse.asp?ictNbr=105 . The mahogany grain filler most of the time will stain the wood and fill the grain in one step. The color is a common color used on mahogany furniture. You thin it with naphtha to the consistency about twice as thick as enamel paint and brush it on and let it sit and thicken. Normally the wet look disappears to flat and you use a squeegee like you clean your windshield off on a car or it can be rubbed into the grain with a rag rubbing it in a circular motion. Then let it dry overnight and do a light sanding to remove the light glaze off the surface. Then you can use a stain if you wish or proceed with the finish. There are many different types of finishes and each has a different way of applying it. Let us know which what type of finish you think you might like and if you have the means of spraying a finish.
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post #6 of 46 Old 03-08-2014, 09:22 AM
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I wouldn't use a power washer, even at low pressure. It has to be used outside. It will displace toxic chemical all over the place...on the grass, concrete, or asphalt. It can kill foliage. It will spritz chemical on yourself, and it can burn through the skin. If it gets into your eyes you could be blinded.

It can dislodge previous repair work, loosen joints and dislodge veneer if present. It will pressure force water into the pores of the wood, changing the moisture content. That could cause expansion of the wood and joints, and when the wood finally dries out, could crack. It also will raise the grain.





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post #7 of 46 Old 03-08-2014, 09:31 AM
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I wouldn't use a power washer, even at low pressure. It has to be used outside. It will displace toxic chemical all over the place...on the grass, concrete, or asphalt. It can kill foliage. It will spritz chemical on yourself, and it can burn through the skin. If it gets into your eyes you could be blinded.

It can dislodge previous repair work, loosen joints and dislodge veneer if present. It will pressure force water into the pores of the wood, changing the moisture content. That could cause expansion of the wood and joints, and when the wood finally dries out, could crack. It also will raise the grain.









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Perhaps the OP would like advise from someone that knows what they are doing instead of a do it yourselfer like yourself that knows absolutely nothing except what you can google.
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post #8 of 46 Old 03-08-2014, 09:39 AM
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Perhaps the OP would like advise from someone that knows what they are doing instead of a do it yourselfer like yourself that knows absolutely nothing except what you can google.
Yes, I'm a do it yourselfer, just like you. Been doing it myself for many years professionally. Because somebody doesn't agree with your methods, or has their own views, you attack them personally. Those you give advice to should take notice.





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post #9 of 46 Old 03-08-2014, 09:51 AM
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Yes, I'm a do it yourselfer, just like you. Been doing it myself for many years professionally. Because somebody doesn't agree with your methods, or has their own views, you attack them personally. Those you give advice to should take notice.









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Don't put me in your league. I've owned a furniture refinishing business since 1986 and have stripped hundreds of pieces of furniture. Your comments about the power washer are a complete figment of your imagination.
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post #10 of 46 Old 03-08-2014, 10:04 AM
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Don't put me in your league. I've owned a furniture refinishing business since 1986 and have stripped hundreds of pieces of furniture. Your comments about the power washer are a complete figment of your imagination.
You've said that before. I started 16 years before you, and am aware of what happens with certain procedures. I've stated my opinion based on my experience, and it's up to the OP to decipher the advice received. If you are done hijacking this thread, and wish to carry this discussion further, do it in a PM.





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post #11 of 46 Old 03-08-2014, 03:30 PM
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You've said that before. I started 16 years before you, and am aware of what happens with certain procedures. I've stated my opinion based on my experience, and it's up to the OP to decipher the advice received. If you are done hijacking this thread, and wish to carry this discussion further, do it in a PM.









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Why, are you afraid everyone will know how little you know. There is a big difference in stripping a piece of furniture every year or two and like me running an assembly line stripping furniture day in and out with inexperienced people using a power washer. Yet all through that there was not one piece of furniture damaged. No joints were loosened that weren't already loose. I did once have a dip tank and that would damage furniture but I only used to to strip the frames on stain glass windows an antique dealer neighbor was selling.
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post #12 of 46 Old 03-08-2014, 04:09 PM
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Why, are you afraid everyone will know how little you know. There is a big difference in stripping a piece of furniture every year or two and like me running an assembly line stripping furniture day in and out with inexperienced people using a power washer. Yet all through that there was not one piece of furniture damaged. No joints were loosened that weren't already loose. I did once have a dip tank and that would damage furniture but I only used to to strip the frames on stain glass windows an antique dealer neighbor was selling.
I'm not afraid of anything. Going to PM keeps ranting, arguing, and personal disagreements out of posts. You just continue to hijack a thread to attempt a convincing argument that your methods are the only methods, and there are no problems with them, as you did in the above post. You continue to address a post with stories about why you think your information is correct.

If you can't accept the fact that everyone may not agree with you, maybe you should quit posting and not subject yourself to that kind of stress. You are entitled to your opinion and I'm entitled to mine. That doesn't seem to satisfy you. You find the need to denigrate and personally attack me, as you did in the above post. I thought you had more class than that.





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post #13 of 46 Old 03-08-2014, 07:14 PM
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I'm not afraid of anything. Going to PM keeps ranting, arguing, and personal disagreements out of posts. You just continue to hijack a thread to attempt a convincing argument that your methods are the only methods, and there are no problems with them, as you did in the above post. You continue to address a post with stories about why you think your information is correct.

If you can't accept the fact that everyone may not agree with you, maybe you should quit posting and not subject yourself to that kind of stress. You are entitled to your opinion and I'm entitled to mine. That doesn't seem to satisfy you. You find the need to denigrate and personally attack me, as you did in the above post. I thought you had more class than that.









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As far as hijacking the thread you started it with post 6. This argument has been going on for years. If you are going to rebut something I post you need to do some research in the industry. Did you know that any company that sells flow over stripping systems also sells power washers too? It's just the accepted method of the industry. It is the very best method of removing the old finish and residue from stripping the finish. It does raise the grain but that is a good thing at that stage before any sanding is done. It opens the grain up and gets as much of the gunk and stain that is embedded into the wood as can be done. This is one reason many smaller refinishing shops were bringing me furniture to strip for them. I could get it clean where they couldn’t.
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post #14 of 46 Old 03-08-2014, 07:27 PM
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As far as hijacking the thread you started it with post 6. This argument has been going on for years. If you are going to rebut something I post you need to do some research in the industry. Did you know that any company that sells flow over stripping systems also sells power washers too? It's just the accepted method of the industry. It is the very best method of removing the old finish and residue from stripping the finish. It does raise the grain but that is a good thing at that stage before any sanding is done. It opens the grain up and gets as much of the gunk and stain that is embedded into the wood as can be done. This is one reason many smaller refinishing shops were bringing me furniture to strip for them. I could get it clean where they couldn’t.
This is exactly what I'm talking about. More stories. You just don't quit trying to convince others that you are correct. In the first place it's not a standard in the industry. None of the shops around here or that I know of use a power washer. I really don't care what others do, I only state what I wouldn't do. Do you understand that?





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post #15 of 46 Old 03-08-2014, 07:38 PM
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This is exactly what I'm talking about. More stories. You just don't quit trying to convince others that you are correct. In the first place it's not a standard in the industry. None of the shops around here or that I know of use a power washer. I really don't care what others do, I only state what I wouldn't do. Do you understand that?









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Well at least the stories I tell are true and not something made up like you just did here.
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post #16 of 46 Old 03-08-2014, 08:24 PM
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Well at least the stories I tell are true and not something made up like you just did here.
So, you're still at it. It doesn't matter what you say, because if someone disagrees with advice, that's their privilege. If you can't deal with that, don't give advice.





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post #17 of 46 Old 03-08-2014, 08:32 PM
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So, you're still at it. It doesn't matter what you say, because if someone disagrees with advice, that's their privilege. If you can't deal with that, don't give advice.







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post #18 of 46 Old 03-08-2014, 08:47 PM
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So, you're still at it. Funny video, but the music was great. Point is others and you can do as they please. I just don't have to agree with it.





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post #19 of 46 Old 03-08-2014, 09:03 PM
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So, you're still at it. Funny video, but the music was great. Point is others and you can do as they please. I just don't have to agree with it.







.
You would have to try it before you could really have an opinion.
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post #20 of 46 Old 03-08-2014, 09:14 PM
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You would have to try it before you could really have an opinion.
I have tried it, more than once, that's why I wouldn't suggest it.





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