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ANTIQUE FURNITURE RESTORATION DISCUSSION BOARD

Re: Mahogony/Leather Bench

Posted By: James Schooley <jschooleyfamily@earthlink.net> (pmspen1-57.rconnect.com)
Date: 7/19/2 00:04

In Response To: Re: Mahogony/Leather Bench (Jim Cole)

In our business we often restore such finishes that are old shellac or possible lacquer, if applied after 1935 or there abouts. I must say they look very good although the labor is not minor. There are many brief solutions that are possible, but they do not look so good nor last as long as the method I will describe for you, and then you can decide which route you will choose.

I suspect that the finish has a lot of dirt on the arms and back, also the feet have a heavy wax build-up? The dirt may require a little houshold amonia in some cold water, about 1/4 cup in a gallon of water. I like to start out with white vinegar, and if that isn't working then I try the amonia water, but always try it in an inconspicous area first. Using a clean lint free cotton rag and rubber gloves, googles are not a bad idea too, wipe on a thin amount on a small area and let stand for 10 or 20 seconds. Using a damp rag rub the area and then wipe clean with a dry rag, look at the rag to see what is deposited on it, repeat until the wipe test is clean. If the water is turning the finish white stop with the water cleaning and use paint thinner instead, along with a 3M scouring pad or 0000 steel wool. If the legs are coated with years of wax build-up then paint thinner is what you will need to remove that also. When the finish is clean it will "squeek" under your finger tips when you drag them across the surface of the finish.

Next we use a little oil stain, like Watco, to replace missing stain and to cover scratches. Wipe ALL the remaining stain off before it dries and soak any oily stain rags in water before you do any thing else, or your house could catch fire and burn down down down!!!

At this point you can recoat and buff to a satin finish using fresh shellac(no older than 2 years). If you want to maintain the original finish, wax with a toulene free paste wax, and shine er up. Dark wax is avaible for the light spots or to put back some of the missing patina.

If what you have is lacquer, you can tell with a little alcohol on a cotton ball, if it sticks to the finish and stays there, it's shellac. Then do not use shellac on top, just use wax or more lacquer. If you want to recoat lacquer then just say so and I'll tell you how then. Let me know how this works and good luck, Jim Schooley.

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