Quantcast
  • We invite you to join UKWorkshop.
    Members can turn off viewing Ads!

Refinishing a clock

UKworkshop.co.uk

Help Support UKworkshop.co.uk:

Solicitus

Established Member
Joined
4 Oct 2012
Messages
42
Reaction score
2
Location
Fife, Scotland
I have a 1950s mantel clock of little commercial but much sentimental value. It has a varnished finish which on one half of the clock has blistered badly as a result of being exposed to the sun. I want to refinish it. I can strip the damaged side easily enough, as it is flaking off the the touch. I think it is likely that the wood will be bleached. Should I attempt to strip the undamaged side ? Its difficult to tell, but it looks like varnish that was applied by brush. My concern is trying to blend in the 2 sides, but obviously I'm not desperate to start stripping the good side unnecessarily. Any suggestions?

Robert
 

Sgian Dubh

Established Member
Joined
12 Oct 2004
Messages
2,268
Reaction score
140
Location
UK
It could be hard to get a good match if you're only finishing one side. I'm assuming the two sides are separate panels, and maybe there's also a top panel that links the sides, as well as a base. It might just be easier to strip the finish off all the show faces and then you can use the same finishing material and routine on all those stripped faces. Your best bet would be a chemical stripper to remove the existing polish which, by your description, I suspect might be what used to be called a spirit varnish (shellac basically) or maybe a sprayed nitrocellulose or pre-cat lacquer. The existing damaged finish might possibly be applied over a dye and/or stain, or simply be a polish that's been tinted prior to application. Slainte.
 

Solicitus

Established Member
Joined
4 Oct 2012
Messages
42
Reaction score
2
Location
Fife, Scotland
It could be hard to get a good match if you're only finishing one side. I'm assuming the two sides are separate panels, and maybe there's also a top panel that links the sides, as well as a base. It might just be easier to strip the finish off all the show faces and then you can use the same finishing material and routine on all those stripped faces. Your best bet would be a chemical stripper to remove the existing polish which, by your description, I suspect might be what used to be called a spirit varnish (shellac basically) or maybe a sprayed nitrocellulose or pre-cat lacquer. The existing damaged finish might possibly be applied over a dye and/or stain, or simply be a polish that's been tinted prior to application. Slainte.
Thank you,
20201117_130212.jpg
20201117_130229.jpg
20201117_130220.jpg
20201117_130244.jpg
that's very helpful. I've attached some pictures that show the problem. One side is fine. The top is fine on the same side. The other side and the font are rough. I'm not very experienced at finishing. I guess I'll strip it and see if there is a big colour mismatch. Nitromors? Tapadh leat.
 

mrpercysnodgrass

Established Member
Joined
29 Apr 2012
Messages
593
Reaction score
32
Location
Lingen Herefordshire
I think you need to strip the whole finish, give it a light sand and refinish. I can't really tell what timber it is, it looks have a good natural colour therefor no need to stain. I would say the original finish was nitro-cellulose and you can use a spray lacquer in a can to get it back to its glory. Motor factors sell good quality cans of lacquer for about six pounds and two cans should be plenty. Nice clock case btw.
 

AJB Temple

Finely figured
Joined
13 Oct 2015
Messages
3,448
Reaction score
637
Location
Tunbridge Wells
In case this is not obvious (apologies if it was) before you do anything to the case, take the entire clock out. This should just be a couple of screws. If the brass or plated fit screw off, then remove them too.
 

Sgian Dubh

Established Member
Joined
12 Oct 2004
Messages
2,268
Reaction score
140
Location
UK
I suspect mrpercysnodgrass might be right in identifying the existing yellowed and crumbled finish as a sprayed nitrocellulose. It might slightly possibly be a shellac based finish, i.e., a spirit varnish, but I don't think so. You could check for finish type by generously applying industrial alcohol (meths, purple) to an area to see if it dissolves the cruddy looking stuff. Basically, brush some alcohol on, keep it wet for a couple of minutes, and scrub in the long grain direction with 0000 steel wool, plus an old toothbrush for corners and crevices. If that doesn't work, it's probably not shellac based.

If that (alcohol) doesn't remove the finish you're down to either chemically stripping the finish, or gentle sanding, maybe 150 - 180 grit, plus refinishing as mrpercysnodgrass suggested. As he states, the wood seems to have a good natural colour, so a clear finish would work fine, and the B&Q source I pointed you to just above has a small selection of clear lacquer in cans. There are other suppliers, of course. Slainte.
 

mrpercysnodgrass

Established Member
Joined
29 Apr 2012
Messages
593
Reaction score
32
Location
Lingen Herefordshire
"a toothbrush for corners and crevices" This is a good suggestion from Richard but don't use your own toothbrush, your wife's will do just fine:)
 

Solicitus

Established Member
Joined
4 Oct 2012
Messages
42
Reaction score
2
Location
Fife, Scotland
Thanks for all the responses. Applying finishes successfully is definitely my weak point, so grateful for all the input.

I have had the clock mender remove the mechanism to overhaul. I will see if I can remove the brass brassware and glass w/o damaging them.

I have meths (my go to degreaser for old radio cabinets) , so I'll give that a try, failing which nitromors.

If you had met my wife you would use your own toothbrush mrpercysnodgrass, trust me !:eek:

Robert
 

Solicitus

Established Member
Joined
4 Oct 2012
Messages
42
Reaction score
2
Location
Fife, Scotland
A wee note of thanks.

Stripped the clock with nitromors, meths having had no impact.

Lacquered with Halfords lacquer, knocked back with 0000 wool and finished with a couple of coats of wax.

To me at least it looks like it used to to, sitting on my Granny's mantelpiece in Inverness 50 years ago.

I'm waiting on the clock mender returning the mechanism, hopefully be up and running soon.

I am most grateful for the advice.

Robert
20201130_202035.jpg
20201130_202030.jpg
20201130_202018.jpg
20201130_202009.jpg
 

Sgian Dubh

Established Member
Joined
12 Oct 2004
Messages
2,268
Reaction score
140
Location
UK
I am most grateful for the advice. Robert
The feedback is much appreciated, and I imagine mrpercysnodgrass will feel the same if he sees your message. Thank you, and you seem to have achieved a satisfactory result. Well done. Slainte.
 
Top