Refinishing Old Wooden Furniture

Special Effects

Various timber effects can also be achieved by the use of self-adhesive vinyl sheeting which, since it is resistant to chemical spillages, is ideal for horizontal surfaces in kitchens and bathrooms. Contact plastic sheeting is easy to cut and stick on. You can buy these materials plain or in designs. Ordinary vinyl wall covering can be used, though it tends to accentuate the least unevenness in the substrate.

Stick-on transfers can be used for brightening up nursery furniture, and for a wide range of furniture applications.

Refinishing old furniture

Take off the existing polish with white spirit, turning the cloth and renewing it frequently so that the wax is not spread. Provided the scratches are not too deep, you can now disguise them with scratch-cover polish, ‘painting’ a little with a fine brush into the scratches.

Leave this to soak in, then apply the polish over the entire surface, and the defect should be virtually undetectable.

Deep dents can be made good by dripping a little boiling water into the crevice to swell the grain of the wood and restore it to its proper level, or you can drip wax, matched in colour, using the tip of a soldering iron to melt it. Scrape the surface level with a sharp knife, and when dry, provided the dent is not too deep, fill it with wax polish.

Chipped veneers present a problem. You will have to match this, as nearly as possible, with a similar veneer from a timber shop. Lay the new piece over the damaged part with the grain running in the same direction and cut through both new and old veneers with a sharp knife. Lever off the edges of the old, clean off any residue of existing adhesive, and glue on the patch.

In some cases, you will need to experiment to find out what materials were used on old furniture.

First, try dry scraping with a proprietary timber scraper; some nitrocellulose finishes chip off fairly easily. If this does not work, use a non-caustic paint stripper. When the old surface coat has been removed, by whatever is the best means of removing it, rub down the surface thoroughly and revarnish or paint as for new wood.

Paint stripper will not lighten a darkly stained wood; and there is a danger that the stain will become activated by the solvents in the new finish and ‘bleed’ through it. Aluminium primer sealer will stop this from happening, but the surface will then have to be painted, because the sealer is silvery in colour.

Apply two or three finishing coats; undercoating is not necessary because the sealer has considerable filling action.

If, on the other hand, you merely wish to lighten the stain, apply a wood bleach after removing the varnish. This may produce patchiness; in this case, after the first bleaching, go over the dark parts again. You may then have to rebleach the entire surface to make it uniform.

Relief ornamentation is generally in the form of moulding, which is pinned and glued into position. If this has become broken, the quickest way to put it right is to take off the damaged section and match up, as nearly as possible, with fresh moulding.

If this is not feasible, patch up using cellulose filler or fireclay or by mixing cabinet maker’s cement with white shellac to a consistency of a thick cream.

Leave the mixture to stand for 12 hours, then brush or knife it on. Use a modelling knife carefully to trim the repair. Work is best done on a horizontal surface, so tip the furniture on its side or back.

Cigarette burns can be removed from a painted surface by digging out the charred wood with a sharp penknife, filling the hole proud with a cellulose filler, smoothing level when dry and touching in with paint. Then with fine abrasive paper, lightly etch the remainder of the surface and recoat the entire top.

Other finishes

A two-tone effect enhances a relief surface and can be quickly carried out by using a dryish brush with a second colour and dragging it over the high-relief first colour when dry.

Another way is to coat the entire surface with one colour. Leave to dry and overcoat with another colour. Wipe off this colour from the high parts while it is still wet.

By using an advancing hue (something with a little red or yellow in it) on the high parts, and a receding hue (with a little blue in it) in the valleys, a flattish relief can be made to look more pronounced.

10. November 2011 by admin
Categories: Featured, Handyman Tips | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Refinishing Old Wooden Furniture


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