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Re: What do I use on oak table top

Posted By: Roger DeMuth <fero@sbcglobal.net> (adsl-68-72-215-97.dsl.akrnoh.ameritech.net)
Date: 10/7/4 16:20

In Response To: What do I use on oak table top (J. Campbell)

On the other hand J., are you certain it is an antique? If it truly is then James is quite right. However, in my business I have learned that whether a piece is antique depends on whether you are buying or selling it. Many people have the impression that if something is old it is antique, and to many 30 years is old. I'm 57 and I'm certainly not an antique! I once was a yard sale about 20 years ago and asked if the guy had any old furniture. Sure he did! He had a beautiful antique table he was asking only $75 for. When I saw it I offered him $5 so I could use it as a work table in my shop. It was a cheap pine kitchen table from the 60s.

Much oak furniture was made in the middle to late 19th century and early 20th. It was kind of the workingman's furniture because it was cheap and abundant. I own a beautiful oak dresser made in 1910 that was bought originally for $5! You should check it out and try to find out how old it really is. If it a true antique you might be better off not touching it. On the other hand, a few weeks ago I finished an 1850s dresser to a customer I had refinished. It was solid crotch grain walnut! I cautioned her that refinishing would kill the value but she didn't care about value as her great grandfather had built it. She wanted it to look good and to be protected for years to come.

If you decide protection is more important than monetary value, then re-coating it might be in order. Most likely the finish on it is lacquer, so clean it thoroughly with a solvent other than lacquer thinner. Lacquer thinner will melt the old finish. Next, sand with 400 grit paper being careful not to cut through the old finish. With 400 I doubt you would but still, sand just enough to rough up the surface and smooth out some of the imperfections.

You can then re-surface it with polyurethane - it will work over lacquer. I would suggest a satin finish as it will look more natural. You can either use a brush or buy a couple of cans of spray. If you brush be sure to use a good brush - like about $10 for a 2 incher. Dust and tack before applying any finish. Use about 2 coats sanding lightly in between coats. When the second coat has dried for a few days, lightly sand with 600 grit and polish with 0000 steel wool.

You now have a table impervious to water, alcohol, and light acids (fruit juices). The color will remain original and you will notice little difference in it except it will look better. Remember though, if monetary value is of concern, don't touch it. Its value will decrease to about 20% of what it is now.

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