water damaged vintage table - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
 
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post #1 of 7 Old 06-18-2019, 01:09 AM Thread Starter
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water damaged vintage table

Hi - newbie here!!! hope you guys can help because You Tube is getting so confusing!

I'm sorry that I'll only be asking and not contributing to this forum -- since this is my first project - lol! But looking over the responses from a lot of you it seems you guys know your stuff - so this seems like the place to be for my first project! :-)

I have a art deco card table (unfolds to use it as such) - that I believe has a mahogany veneer [maybe you can confirm that with the close up?] I had a small leak from my roof that I did not realize moisture was getting in between the closed/folded panels. I recently opened the table to this (see 1st photo). I was heart-broken. I'm sure I'll have a lot of questions as I start the project but let's start with the basics: I want to confirm that I will indeed need to refinish the entire 'top' (surface that you see in the photo - not the actual top - which I am almost certain will need refinishing - but that is for another thread)? It appears that the veneer itself is intact -- but only the finish is damaged. Also, except for the moisture damaged areas, the rest of the table 'top' is actually in very good condition - nothing that a little Howard's couldn't 'cure'. Can -- or better yet - should this be repaired without total refinishing? For now I do not need refinishing advice (I'll get back to you with another thread for that :-) - just whether it needs refinishing - and, if not, what would you suggest?

Thank you,
Diane
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post #2 of 7 Old 06-18-2019, 08:12 AM
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Yes, it will need refinishing. If it were me with the condition of the base I would refinish the entire table. It's easier to get a uniform color for someone that isn't an experienced finisher.

To me the table looks like walnut. In any case when working with walnut or mahogany it is customary to fill the grain of the wood with a pastewood grain filler when finishing. You otherwise see the texture of the wood grain in the finish. You thin the wood filler to a consistency of heavy cream and brush it on and allow it to thicken into a paste. Then you either squeegee off the excess or rub it with a coarse cloth such as burlap in a circular motion. It's kind of like using a thin wood putty to fill the grain. Most of it comes in a natural color which is almost white. If you get it at a paint store have them tint it to a dark brown for walnut or a reddish dark brown for mahogany. Once the filler is applied and dry very lightly sand it with some fine sandpaper to remove the haze left over. Then a stain can be applied.
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post #3 of 7 Old 06-18-2019, 10:48 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Steve Neul View Post
Yes, it will need refinishing. If it were me with the condition of the base I would refinish the entire table. It's easier to get a uniform color for someone that isn't an experienced finisher.

To me the table looks like walnut. In any case when working with walnut or mahogany it is customary to fill the grain of the wood with a pastewood grain filler when finishing. You otherwise see the texture of the wood grain in the finish. You thin the wood filler to a consistency of heavy cream and brush it on and allow it to thicken into a paste. Then you either squeegee off the excess or rub it with a coarse cloth such as burlap in a circular motion. It's kind of like using a thin wood putty to fill the grain. Most of it comes in a natural color which is almost white. If you get it at a paint store have them tint it to a dark brown for walnut or a reddish dark brown for mahogany. Once the filler is applied and dry very lightly sand it with some fine sandpaper to remove the haze left over. Then a stain can be applied.
Thank you, Steve. Do you have a recommended brand for the grain filler? I presume the step for applying the filler is done after: (1) strip the finish (2) clean with lacquer thinner (correct?) (3) sand with orbital sander - then hand sand (4) clean - tack off -- then continue with your suggestion using filler. Please clarify -- remember, first time :-) :-) Thanks!
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post #4 of 7 Old 06-18-2019, 11:00 AM
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Its mahogany.

If you can match the stain, you may not need to refinish the whole top.


If you're going this router try to determine what the finish is . If its shellac or wiping an area with denatured alcohol will dissolve the finish.

Many finishes can be simply scraped off. Definitely resist the urge to use a stripper as it may leak through the veneer and compromise the glue.

IMO grain filling is not necessary but will give a glass smooth surface. I've finished plenty of walnut and mahogany without grain filling and it looks fine.


Oh, and if you're thinking about sanding, approach with extreme caution, especially near the edges.


Sum it up, I would scrape the finish off with a card scraper, very carefully sand, restain (use an oil based stain just in case the veneer is hide glued), and top coat of your choice. Polyacrylic or urethane are probably your best most fool proof.

Last edited by DrRobert; 06-18-2019 at 11:04 AM.
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post #5 of 7 Old 06-18-2019, 01:31 PM Thread Starter
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Its mahogany.

If you can match the stain, you may not need to refinish the whole top.


If you're going this router try to determine what the finish is . If its shellac or wiping an area with denatured alcohol will dissolve the finish.

Many finishes can be simply scraped off. Definitely resist the urge to use a stripper as it may leak through the veneer and compromise the glue.

IMO grain filling is not necessary but will give a glass smooth surface. I've finished plenty of walnut and mahogany without grain filling and it looks fine.


Oh, and if you're thinking about sanding, approach with extreme caution, especially near the edges.


Sum it up, I would scrape the finish off with a card scraper, very carefully sand, restain (use an oil based stain just in case the veneer is hide glued), and top coat of your choice. Polyacrylic or urethane are probably your best most fool proof.
Thank you, DrRobert! Just so I am sure that I understand your suggestion fully (again, newbie - here :-): you are suggesting that (assuming it is shellac - I will test), after preparing/blending an oil based stain(s) that matches the remaining top, I should card scrape (gently) just the damaged areas - not the entire top - then gently sand, clean with ?? - then stain. Assuming it is currently a shellac finish, I should then shellac the damaged areas? Are there any videos that you know of that demonstrate this 'repair method' as opposed to refinishing the entire top - unless you wish to go into a bit more detail regarding your repair suggestion. :-) :-) Thank you!
Diane
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post #6 of 7 Old 06-18-2019, 08:55 PM
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Thank you, Steve. Do you have a recommended brand for the grain filler? I presume the step for applying the filler is done after: (1) strip the finish (2) clean with lacquer thinner (correct?) (3) sand with orbital sander - then hand sand (4) clean - tack off -- then continue with your suggestion using filler. Please clarify -- remember, first time :-) :-) Thanks!
The brand of grain filler isn't that important. The main thing is to get one that is oil based. The water based stuff goes from ready to wipe off to hard as concrete in just a few moments. Oil based grain filler will give you more open time. Still don't do a very big area at once with any grain filler. On a dining room table that opens up for leaves I do half the table and get it wiped off before I do the other half. Then the leaves. I use the grain filler made by Mohawk finishing products. You can purchase it already tinted for walnut or mahogany so that would save you one problem in itself. https://www.mohawk-finishing.com/pro...iller-solvent/

Your schedule looks pretty close. Just be careful with the orbital sander. If the table has been refinished before it's been sanded twice before so there might not be very much veneer to sand. Except for maybe the edges I don't think hand sanding is necessary. If you sand with the orbital to 180 grit or finer that should be good enough. I wouldn't use the tack cloth. The goo on the cloth tends to come off in little balls and gets into the finish. Then use the grain filler followed in 24 hours with stain if desired.

I don't believe you mentioned what kind of finish you plan to use. If you use lacquer don't do any between the coats sanding in the same day after you spray it. The solvents in the lacquer will make the grain filler swell up out of the grain and if you sand you end up making the finish very thin where the grain filler is. Then overnight the grain filler shrinks back into the grain and the finish starts looking like you never used grain filler. When I work with lacquer I use sanding sealer and let the first coat dry an hour, the second coat dry two hours and so on. Then at the end of the day I just leave it and wait until the next morning to do any sanding. If you use a finish with a milder solvent like polyurethane you might be able to apply a coat and then late in the evening sand it and apply another coat. It would take that long for the finish to dry enough to sand anyway. If you are going to use a water based finish apply it in very thin half dry coats. The water in the finish will raise the grain with a wet coat you would be many days trying to get it smooth again.
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post #7 of 7 Old 06-19-2019, 08:34 AM
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About a year ago we bought a vintage dressing table from Salvation Army and refinished it. My daughter uses it as her desk in her college apartment. It is mahogany veneer and the finish was similar to what your table has. (although I'm not convinced yours isn't walnut)


I wiped, scraped, and rubbed several times over with Citristrip. It's a messy process but worked pretty well. I also sanded very lightly. When it was all nice and cleaned up, we used an oil based gel stain from General Finishes, black. We didn't use any pore or grain filler. I've found the How-To videos on the General Finishes website to be very helpful.



The result is stunning considering that it was a $20 desk from Salvation Army.
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