Restoring an antique dining table...

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againstthegrain

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I am frustrated by a not very durable finish to my lovely solid hardwood 'wind-out' antique dining table (Mahogany or Walnut?) which desperately needs some tlc...

There are photos below of the whole table (less two extra leaves) and the worst of the scratched area..

The extra leaves are rarely used and somewhat darker, but I will leave them as they are beacuse when the table is extended we usually have a table cloth, too!

The table as you see it is used daily for every meal and we always use table mats for everything hot.

I suspect that some of the scratching came from the table mats themselves, which I have recently changed so they now have felt feet-pads!

The current (lacquer?) finish has also been waxed (Fiddes) and was put on a few years ago by someone who was supposed to be a French polisher!

Can I touch up the existing finish with something to get rid of the scratched dull area?

Or will I need to remove everything before a new finish is applied? (I have a random orbit sander which I could use with fine paper or use wire wool.

I would like to acheieve a hard and durable finish which will last for more than two or three years which is all that the current lacquer has managed!

Suggestions would be most welcome.

I would consider anything which would be suitable including polyurethane .

Thank you too for any ideas-suggestions on what to use to remove existing treatment if necessary or to use as a touch up treatment.

scratches.jpg



table.jpg
 

Austin Branson

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That’s a lovely mahogany table. I’m afraid I can’t recommend a finish, I would probably use oil. The scratches bother me. Do you place your cutlery on the mats or the tabletop? Best wishes. Austin
 

robgul

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It looks as if it's worth doing properly with a French polish finish (and do the whole top, inlcuding the extra leaves)

Having just been on Peter Sefton's French Polishing course the process seems a bit daunting . . . but worth the effort and work.

The process starts with applying industrial strength paint stripper to get back to the bare wood - before a series of processes including sanding, polishing, waxing etc. The end result should be scratch free if the sanding is done properly and a hard polish - BUT do use mats/coasters for everything you put on the table . . . and use decent wax polish to maintain, not Pledge or Mr Sheen.
 

kinverkid

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That is a nice table. It looks like it could be a shellac finish. Whatever you choose to finish it with you will need to remove the old varnish and I hope for you that the scratches are only in the finish. I've done this once recently to an oak table to remove the water stains. Fortunately they came out with removing the finish and I didn't have to resort to other chemical treatments. This episode of Thomas Johnson Antique Furniture Restoration may be of help to you.

Gary
 

Craig22

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I'd start with magic mix. There are umpteen recipes for this, but the one the guy who taught me cabinetmaking (I'm an amateur at this!) was mainly a professional antique furniture restorer. He trained at Oxford Brooks.

His restoration process was to leave any wear and tear that had been picked up over the centuries, because that was part of the story of the piece, but to remove any built up finish that was obscuring the original finish and beauty of the wood.

His recipe gently takes off layers like wax and surface degradation, and softens shellac. Should be applied gently and progressively with a lint free cloth (old cotton T-shirts and other old cotton clothes are perfect; preferably white). Keep looking at the cloth to see what is coming off.

30% meths, 30% white spirit, 30% danish oil and 10% vinegar.

I certainly wouldn't start by stripping the table down to bare wood and starting again, certainly if it is Victorian or even Edwardian.
 

Adam W.

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The smell of that mix would make me barf!

I'd try 30% ethanol, 30% genuine turpentine, 10% apple cider vinegar 30% Danish oil (although I can't stand the smell of that either) and a large gin and tonic with a slice of lemon.

What does the Danish oil do ?
 

Craig22

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Dunno; Just saying what Chris used. But interesting that yours also has Danish oil in it. I like the addition of genuine turpentine in yours (note to self - must buy some to replace mine, which has degraded to a smelly brown mess).

Difficult to get hold of pure ethanol now. It always includes some denaturing element to prevent anyone drinking the stuff. Hence meths in my recipe. You could substitute finishing spirit, which is ethanol containing a small amount of shellac, but that is way more expensive than blue meths.

But we're thinking along the same lines - that the OP starts with either magic mix recipe first before going more drastic.
 

profchris

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The recipes I've seen used boiled linseed oil rather than Danish oil. As Danish oil could have pretty much anything in it, and is designed to dry fast (compared to linseed), I think I'd go for the BLO version.
 

Craig22

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I've no problem with that - like I said there are many definitions of magic mix! I guess the other slow drying oil is boiled tung, which might be an alternative to boiled linseed.
 
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