Author Topic: Advice on finish restoration  (Read 1902 times)

TC Chris

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Advice on finish restoration
« on: January 05, 2016, 10:52:33 PM »
First, a story.  My Provincial Serenade in a very nice cherry veneer is kinda beat-up, and it had some fairly large chips in the veneer around the top edge.  I cleaned up the edges of the missing veneer and glued in some small pieces of cherry.  But hey, they were too light, so I used my favorite darkener for cherry and mahogany:  washing soda dissolved in water.  I brushed it on, and...  dang, too dark!  When the weather cooperates I'll try bleaching it back some.

Now my questions.  The P. Serenade top is well scratched up.  Has anybody used the various "finish restorers" or maybe just some plain lacquer thinner to reconstitute the lacquer?  Or maybe just overcoating with some brushable or aerosol lacquer?

Over the holidays i was restoring the cabinet of a ca. 1940 Sparton console radio (AM-SW).  It had been flood damaged, leading to plywood delamination about 10" up from the bottom.  I got it reglued but now the finish shows visible water damage.  The color is lighter, although it's mostly intact.  There was one spot on the top that was worse, and I tried lacquer thinner on it.  It was better but not good enough.  It will need some sort of salvation too.

Suggestions or advice?

Chris Campbell

AlexanderMartin

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Re: Advice on finish restoration
« Reply #1 on: January 06, 2016, 12:44:41 AM »
Not too difficult if it's just small scratches and nothing too deep in the finish. Sand the top down until the finish is smooth an consistent, and work up the grits. I usually start from 400 grit, 220 if it's really bad. Go from 400, 600, 800, 1000, then of course 2000 and if you can go higher, go higher. For the 800 up, wet sand it by just spraying it with water. Once you sand it smooth, it should feel extremely smooth, almost like glass if you did it right. Then at that point I can waxes like Minwax paste wax and apply it accordingly, then I take car buffing compounds and buff it out. At the end of it, you should have a borderline french polish top with no defects. The difficult thing with this method is if you are refinishing the top from scratch, as it takes a lot of sanding. Companies then did not cheap out on lacquer, and you can sand it pretty well without totally going through.

TC Chris

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Re: Advice on finish restoration
« Reply #2 on: January 07, 2016, 08:36:40 PM »
Mine may be too beat-up for a sand-and-polish.  I was thinking about getting a can of brushing lacquer, recoating, and then doing the sanding etc.  That would let me do some spot repairs first and then get a sightly thicker finish to start with.  What do you think?

Chris Campbell

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Re: Advice on finish restoration
« Reply #3 on: January 07, 2016, 08:48:05 PM »
Well... either you want to try and save the original finish (and it's not beyond saving) or you don't really care about keeping it original, or the finish is just too far gone.


In my (admittedly limited) experience, saving/rejuvenating a damaged original finish (and having something you can be proud of) is WAY more work than stripping and refinishing.


If there are no really TERRIBLE spots on the cabinet you should try Qualarenu from Behlen (Mohawk), it's the only thing that I have found that actually does a good job of re-amalgamating an existing finish and leaving you with an "original" look when you are done.


Otherwise you will probably save yourself a lot of time and achieve a better end result if you sand/strip and respray the entire cabinet.


 
-- Aloha, Ken

No Console Left Behind!

TC Chris

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Re: Advice on finish restoration
« Reply #4 on: January 08, 2016, 06:25:16 PM »
I have low standards... first priority is getting the device working properly and cleaned up, then I can worry about cosmetic details.  One principle is to do no unreversible harm.  Don't paint it purple or perform stupid modifications.

As a young person I aimed at perfection.  Then I discovered that it's always a nice goal but if you can't be happy without it, life will be very unhappy.  For the last 48 years I've been maintaining a very nice old sailboat, one with lots of mahogany trim and spruce spars that's 55 years old now.  Think about leaving your mahogany furniture sitting outdoors all summer, and you'll get the idea of the challenge of owning a pretty boat.  If I had extremely deep pockets, I could hire experts to make her look perfect.  But I can't, so I have learned the great virtue of the 40 foot rule (if she looks good from 40 feet, that will do). Some things are closer to perfection--the big mahogany sliding hatch that everybody's eyes fall on, for example.  Others are compromises, like the hull's peeling Imron that I keep touching up with color-matched enamel. I'll attach a photo of the old gal. 

So for this Magnavox, my current goal is not showroom-floor new right now.  I've got AM and FM working, a "new" record changer in place and working properly, and those veneer chips replaced.  If I can get the top and the base looking good, and the circular scratches on one door where some kid twirled the metal handle disguised, that will be good enough for now.  Perfection?  Maybe when I'm retired!

Chris

Consoleman

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Re: Advice on finish restoration
« Reply #5 on: January 09, 2016, 08:21:53 AM »
In the scale model airplane world, there a saying - it's finished when you stop working on it. We have a 10-foot rule just like your 40 foot one. Trying for perfection is an endless task.
Mark

TC Chris

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Re: Advice on finish restoration
« Reply #6 on: January 09, 2016, 10:54:50 AM »
I like that saying.  On the boat, at least in northern places where they are hauled out for the winter, I'm done when launch date arrives.  When the marina crew is waiting and the travel hoist is standing by, I'd better be done.

Chris Campbell

danrclem

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Re: Advice on finish restoration
« Reply #7 on: January 09, 2016, 11:15:11 PM »
Did Magnavox spray the lacquer on the consoles or use some other method?  I've been thinking about that lately for some reason.

electra225

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Re: Advice on finish restoration
« Reply #8 on: January 09, 2016, 11:52:30 PM »
My understanding is that the finish, including color and top coat, was sprayed on then hand-rubbed. 
If it ain't broke, call me.  I can break it....

TC Chris

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Re: Advice on finish restoration
« Reply #9 on: January 10, 2016, 05:22:59 PM »
Yesterday I was taking advantage of our temporary springtime--temps above freezing--to do something about the veneer repairs that I had dyed chemically, and that turned too dark.  I had some oxalic acid wood bleach.  The other options were Clorox, hydrogen peroxide, and vinegar.  The first two are basic, so they seemed likely to increase the effect of the washing soda solution that will darken mahogany and cherry nicely--too nicely for my Magnavox.  I'm not sure what the chemistry is, but the washing soda solution apparently acts on the tannins in the wood to give a darker color.  It's great on my boat's mahogany or for new cherry.

So I mixed up a little bit of the oxalic acid bleach and applied a couple doses.  I took a peek today after shoveling the driveway and it did the trick--the veneer looks like it did before the washing soda darkening.  But that's a bit too light again. 

My plan now is to try some pigmented stain, and if it still needs some matching I'll try some tinted finish, probably lacquer, to get it as close as I can. 

Chris Campbell

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Re: Advice on finish restoration
« Reply #10 on: January 11, 2016, 03:25:42 PM »
You need not explain to me about brightwork!! 


In my youth I spent 4 years working/crewing aboard both a 95' Barkentine and an 80' Tops'l Schooner!


Needless to say there was always something that needed refinishing!!
-- Aloha, Ken

No Console Left Behind!

TC Chris

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Re: Advice on finish restoration
« Reply #11 on: January 12, 2016, 07:28:11 PM »
In my old age, I crew as a mate on a replica of a traditional Great Lakes gaff schooner, built by volunteers and modeled on an 1845 vessel that had a  local connection.  She's 55' LOD and 92' LOA and travels around the Lakes in the summer to teach the region's maritime history.  Luckily, because she's based on a commercial vessel, there's very little brightwork!  I'll attach a photo. She's Michigan's "official tall ship," for what that's worth.  It does get us free meals here and there.  Come to Michigan and, if you time it right (i.e, when she's not earning her keep somewhere else), you can go sailing.

Chris Campbell