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Hey everybody. I'm new here and recently found a nice Roos Cedar Hope Chest that needed a little work. I thought it would be a nice gift for my daughter, who although is not even 2 yet, can have this chest for years to come! I love projects so I dove in.

The chest was made in the 40's and is of cedar interior with vaneer on the outside which was peeling up and even severely chipped at the base area drawer. I'm no wood expert, so after learning of ways to replace and patch vaneer, I had to find out what kind of wood it was. One person said Mahogany but other pictures of similar chests I.D.'d it as Walnut so I purchased some Walnut vaneer and re-did the bottom drawer. I also had to put in a vaneer patch on the face.

I'm stuck with finding out how to refinish the chest to make the new vaneer match the rest. I plan to strip the whole chest entirely. I don't know if there's a stain on the original or if it's just an Oil & Poly like Arm-R-Seal? What would be the best route to restore this going off of what I've done so far?
 

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I would recommend wiping paint thinner on your new veneer areas to judge the new vs old veneer color match. If the new material (walnut) is likely much darker than the original. You can either adjust the new material with bleaching chemicals to lighten or plan to stain the stripped old materials to add color to match the new. It is possible you may need to do both to achieve a good color match between the two.
I would predict the original finish was lacquer. You can test that by wiping an area of the original finish with lacquer thinner for lacquer or alcohol for shellac.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Okay I wet the new veneer with paint thinner and it is still lighter than the original so it seems a stain will be in order. For walnut, should I go with a water or oil based stain?

I plan to:
1)Stain the new veneer
2)Fill any veneer grooves with some wood putty
3)Strip the entire piece
4)Maybe lightly stain the entire piece once over
5)Lay a poly top coat

How does this sound?
 

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Okay I wet the new veneer with paint thinner and it is still lighter than the original so it seems a stain will be in order. For walnut, should I go with a water or oil based stain?

I plan to:
1)Stain the new veneer
2)Fill any veneer grooves with some wood putty
3)Strip the entire piece
4)Maybe lightly stain the entire piece once over
5)Lay a poly top coat

How does this sound?
If it were me I would start with filling any voids with wood putty and sand it. Then use a grain filler so the finish will level like the original. A filler can be tinted so that it stains the wood and fills the grain in one step. From what I can see in the picture the rest of the chest doesn't look too bad so you might could recoat over the original finish. More than likely the old finish is lacquer so I wouldn't recommend coating over it with polyurethane. It would be better to recoat over it with lacquer. There is inherent adhesion problems with polyurethane and it's best not to use it directly on lacquer. If poly is a must I would recommend scuff sanding the lacquer and put a coat of Zinsser Sealcoat on first. Before any recoat is done the old finish should be cleaned with a wax and grease remover. I normally use Dupont Prepsol Solvent available at automotive paint supply stores. You may also experience fisheye which makes the finish kinda bead up like water on a freshly waxed car. It makes little circles in the finish. If that happens stop wherever you are. There is an additive you can put in the finish that will make the finish flow out. It is made of silicone which is the cause of the fisheye in the first place. It's best not to use the additive unless necessary. I use a product called smoothie. It is also available at automotive paint supply stores.

The new veneer you used, are there any instructions with it? Some brands of veneer say not to use oil based stains on it. On those it can cause the veneer to delaminate from the paper backing which is put on with hot melt glue.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
There was no directions with the veneer. It's raw veneer with no backing. I will start looking for grain filler today. I saw the tint powders and the fillers already colored. Good tip on the poly. I'll stick to lacquer like you suggested.
 

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just an observation....

Your grain on the front runs vertically, the grain on the side runs horizontally. If that doesn't bother you, then proceed as you are.
If you now realize that it is a "big deal" you may want to remove the side veneer and make it all match. By doing that the issue of two colors matching will go away, since it will all be the same veneer. :yes:
I suppose you could just glue the walnut on the sides, without removing the original, just remove any old finish so the glue/adhesive will adhere properly. I would use a cabinet scraper first. It will cleanly remove most of the finish without using a stripper.
 
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You can use mineral spirits as a wipe down cleaner. I wouldn't suggest using lacquer. If the existing finish is any other than lacquer, you will likely have a reaction. It may not be an immediate one, but could happen over a short period of time.

You can use any oil base finish, like an oil base varnish, or oil base polyurethane over any cured finish, with good results.









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There was no directions with the veneer. It's raw veneer with no backing. I will start looking for grain filler today. I saw the tint powders and the fillers already colored. Good tip on the poly. I'll stick to lacquer like you suggested.
If there was no paper backing on the veneer there won't be an issue with solvents unless you put the veneer on with contact cement. Then it would only be a problem if you used a stronger solvent enough to re-wet the contact cement.

If you use tinted grain filler be sure to test it on some scrap veneer first for color. Sometimes they make walnut grain filler really dark. Using one really dark it would be necessary to let it dry and sand the surface off so the filler was in the grain only and didn't affect the color of the wood.

Woodenthings made comment about the grain direction of the veneer on the base of the chest. My mother has a chest just like that one and the veneer on it also runs vertical so I believe you are putting it back like it was originally.
 

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Your grain on the front runs vertically, the grain on the side runs horizontally. If that doesn't bother you, then proceed as you are.
Woodenthings made comment about the grain direction of the veneer on the base of the chest. My mother has a chest just like that one and the veneer on it also runs vertical so I believe you are putting it back like it was originally.
I was pointing out that the front and sides are different. :yes:
 

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IMO, the veneer should be running horizontally. Part of the decision which way to run grain when in doubt would first consider the visual appeal. Next is the thought that the grain direction, on whatever the piece is, which includes drawers, is to orient the grain as if a piece of solid lumber was to be used.






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I was pointing out that the front and sides are different. :yes:
I realized that. My mothers cedar chest which they bought new was done exactly like that with the grain running vertical on the front and horizontal on the sides. I think they designed it that way because the direction of the grain on the top. Personally I think I would have run the grain horizontal. Perhaps they used an endcut from veneer from the top.
 

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IMO, strip the whole thing and skip the guess work, stain and finish it. It's going to be around for a while.
It looks like there's some staining on the left front? You can usually refresh the cedar aroma on the inside with giving it a light sanding.
Nice job in the veneer!
 

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Discussion Starter #13
THanks for all the help! I decided to strip the entire piece. The tricky part was getting a stain to match or come close. I came to find out since walnut is a darker wood, I needed to overemphasize, if you will, the lightness of the shade of the stain I choose. I used oil based minwax in Golden Oak. I gave the new veneer 3 coats and the entire piece a single coat to help blend. I then, aerosoled Minwax Semi-Gloss Poly in 3 coats. I'm a perfectionist with things like this to the point where sometimes I'm working "backwards", so there was a lot of little tricks I had to make up as I went to get what I was looking for. I still not 100% satisified with the new veneer color and some other things but overall happy the way it turned out. I may even spray a second can of poly but we'll see.
 

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"still not 100% satisified with the new veneer color and some other things"....

You kidding!? It looks great. Everything is going to change after it's had some exposure to sunlight and the tones will even out. Already looks awesome.
 

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It looks good to me too. Sometimes you can cheat on the color using dyes or orange shellac but when the finish gets old it looks worse. I think you are better off letting the new veneer age on it's own. If you have in a sunny place it should become more brown in a couple of months.
 
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