Identifying Finish

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RECr

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I have acquired a 1960s G Plan dining table. The finish on the main top is very dull and dry looking. As I understand it G Plan used polyurethane varnish at the factory however I suspect the top has been refinished.

The finish can be scratched easily to bare dry looking veneer with a fingernail. Rubbing it with a damp cloth leads to a lot of grey/brown grime on the cloth. If the surface is then buffed dry the sheen is improved, and the scratch seems to "blend" back in.

I suspect I am dealing with wax applied to bare wood; does this sound like the case?
 
Naphtha (aka White Spirit or, faster acting, lighter fluid) is a good solvent for wax and is safe for most other finishes. I'd see if it removes a patch, and that would show me the condition of the original finish.
 
From the tiny corner where I used white spirit and a cloth it looks like I have gone to bare veneer. A better scenario in many ways than revealing polyurethane in poor condition.

Is there any advantage in cleaning the surface with a damp cloth before using white spirit (less likely to rub dirt into the wood?) It really is pretty grimy.
 
After removing the wax I am back at bare wood, with possible traces of the original finish (the darker/shinier areas). I am going to try a bit more white spirit/wire wool and see if it just leftover wax

20240427_164715.jpg


Additionally some of the lipping has separated from the edge (about 2 inches), which I tried glueing. However this has not worked, probably because I couldn't get much glue in. I am tempted to put a screw obliquely through from the underside. Is this an acceptable repair? The fact that the top has been previously stripped makes me less concerned about originality.

Update: after I wiped the table with WS it all soaked in at a similar rate. I wire wooled the areas that looked darker/shinier when dry. So looks like it's ready to (gently!) sand tomorrow.
 
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