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Help - not sure how to restore/refinish this great table.

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Mar 31, 2013, 10:21 PM
Sh. Carvalho
Help - not sure how to restore/refinish this great table.
HI I'm totally new when it comes to woodwork and trying to learn as I go along. I bought this cute but roughed up vintage end table that I intended to repaint, but it's so pretty I would love to keep it with a wood finish.

Can anyone help identify what this current finish is and how best to approach the task of restoring the furniture.

Some images here

Apr 02, 2013, 03:54 PM
I'm not very skilled in identifying wood stains, but it looks like some walnut, oak and perhaps even cherry. I've been trying to figure out if this piece was refinished several times, or what.

I've seen the kind of chipping in the first photo, on a cherry dresser about 65 years old. I don't know what caused it, or what the cause might be of the peeling/chipping on your furniture.

That photo does give some insight into the original type of wood, but again, I can't tell what it is, other than to see some attractive grain.

The Edge and Bottom photo shows wood that looks like it's been exposed to moisture. I've seen wood "wrinkle" like that on other pieces but don't know the circumstances.

There are some knowledgeable woodworkers here; perhaps they'll have some better ideas.

This message has been edited. Last edited by: GardenSprite,
Apr 04, 2013, 01:08 PM
Mersmen is still around, I think. the edgework might have been painted over, but the rest is stained. on a hidden spot, press a blunt item like a wide screwdriver blade or a bottle opener against the wood to gauge its hardness.

if the legs etc. are pine and you get a decent depression, the top is likely a veneered or laminated pressboard. this is of the "3 tables $200" variety of woodworking, and I'd not get elaborate, just cover up scratches with light or darm "furniture restorer" as needed. I forget the brand name of the stuff, it's up with the waxes in the grocery store.

if it's hard to dent, it's oak or cherry most likely. cherry has a reddish tint to it, so I'd think red oak most likely, a common hardwood. if there isn't any brown at all in a piece of the unfinished wood, it's more likely ash. the top could still be anything, worth scraping a little underneath to see what you have. that would be worth refinishing.

the edge would be banded if that is a solid hardwood top on the edges, and a heat gun and putty knife would get off the rest of the crumbling veneer. then you could re-veneer and stain it.

stain matching is art, you have to start with several small half-pint cans, mix, and apply to a piece of scrap to match the color.

sig: if this is a new economy, how come they still want my old-fashioned money?
Apr 05, 2013, 12:42 PM
you have several different finishes, The photo that shows the black dots is simulating distressed cherry, the top photo, where the finish is off, shows the grain of either pine or poplar, I'd guess poplar as it will take the finish more evenly. I also see an attempt at a cherry stain that looks pretty goodm My advice is , considering the condition of the finish and your desire to keep the wood appearance, you should take it to a professional wood finishing shop
from what I've read, mersman is / was a mid priced product selling for about $300 or less. The table is pretty well beat upso It might not be worth having it refinished as to do that, the company will immerse the table in stripper to clean off the old finish,repair the chipped sections of wood, then sand and sand and sand, before applying the final finish I bet it would cost in the neighborhood of $500-$600 to restore it to its $300 value
You could get a faux finish kit at a paint store and do a pretty good restore job yourself

This message has been edited. Last edited by: nona,
Apr 06, 2013, 04:07 PM
Sh. Carvalho
Wow, a lot of information... Thanks all. Unfortunately, I don't have $500 to spend on refinishing it, especially since I spent all of $5 to buy the table. Just wanted to get it looking nice enough.
The top is definitely a veneer like you say, I can see the edge thickness now that I look closer. I'm thinking I might clean the piece, scrape off the crumbling edge and stain the edge carefully, and then use Howards restor-a-finish on the whole thing to blend in other scratches etc...
Hoping that will work out okay! Thanks for the advice on the stain matching, I will start with a less visible edge to try the stain. Is it possible to get stain sample colors? (Guessing not! but worth a shot Smile )

Apr 06, 2013, 04:21 PM
grandpa B
Sh. Carvalho, home Depot has stain samples in trial size packets . here they run about 50cents. Varathane makes them, check a color chart and find a few that are close.good luck
Apr 07, 2013, 05:23 AM
$500.00! Boy are you shopping in the wrong store.