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I picked these up along with a coffee table. In good shape, the finish is not bad, few scratches, water stains. Looks like some build up of varnish or something else in a couple spots.

Just wanted some opinions on how to go about it and what products you like.

Warm regards,

Patrick
 

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From what I can see in the picture it just needs a little rubbing out with fine steel wood and waxed. If though there is scratches and spots that won't rub out it could be recoated. It's highly likely the existing finish is a nitrocellulose lacquer. To determine this apply some lacquer thinner in an inconspicuous place and see if the finish tries to dissolve or tries to make it wrinkle up. If it dissolves then it is at least lacquer compatible. Lacquer though is a finish better off sprayed. It dries so fast it doesn't do well brushed. The first step in recoating would be to wash the finish down with a wax and grease remover. I use Dupont Prepsol solvent available at places that sell Dupont automotive paint. Many times that is Napa auto parts. You wash the furniture down with the solvent frequently changing rags to pick up as much of the furniture polish that has been applied over the years. Then scuff sand the furniture and apply a coat of lacquer of the sheen of your choice. The picture looks like semi-gloss. Unless the scratches are very deep the lacquer should cover them. If it is deep multiple coats on those spots should work. Normally water spots will melt away with a coat of lacquer. Sometimes though it goes all the way through to the wood and refinishing is the only option.

As far as the unevenness of the existing finish someone may have at some time touched up the piece and it can be easily leveled with between the coats sanding with 220 grit sandpaper. Just don't try to get it all in one sanding. It's much better to work it a little at a time then to sand through to the wood.
 
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