Woodworker's Journal fall-2009, страница 70


Reject, Restore or Refinish

You have many options for rescuing furniture with poor finishes. Start with our expert's sage advice.

By Michael Dresdner

Chances are, there are some pieces around your house whose finish could benefit from some attention. You'll need to decide first whether or not they are worth salvaging at all, and then choose between two options: saving and restoring the finish, or stripping it off and refinishing.

Rejecting Some Altogether

In most cases, it is not an abysmal finish that will deter you, but rather advanced structural problems. Peeled veneer, missing parts or poorly repaired joinery make some pieces not worth the effort to save, even if

they were refinished.

Almost all finishes will come off, though not necessarily easily. Watch out for thick, plastic-looking clear coats, like those used for decoupage and some bar tops. They will resist most chemical strippers, and sanding them off may result in more damage than the job is worth. Milk paint, a durable, traditional coating, is also impervious to most strippers, but it can be removed with either lye or special milk paint strippers.

Restoring a Finish

Many pieces, including most kitchen cabinets, are clear finishes

over stain. If the finish is intact and not peeling, and there are no huge bare areas, you can usually restore what is there. That can include cleaning, removing white rings, rubbing out minor scratches, touching up serious ones, filling dings or even adding extra finish. You may have to do some or all of these steps, pretty much in that order.

• Cleaning Up: Clean the finish first. Use mild soap and water for gentle cleaning, or graduate to trisodium phosphate (TSP) to remove old wax and greasy or heavy dirt. In tough cases, use fine (#0000) steel wool to help dislodge the dirt. You'd be surprised how often a good cleaning is all that is needed, in which case you can go directly to "Rub" (next page) to restore the sheen.

• White Rings: White rings caused by water marks often come out when you clean the surface and remove old wax. If they don't, simply wipe them with a cotton cloth dampened with denatured alcohol. The cloth should be damp, not soaked. Damp means "about as wet as a healthy dog's nose." Alcohol may

There's not much value in a perfect finish if your piece is suffering advanced structural problems. The bottom line: Is it worth the effort to save a pig in a poke?

70 Reject, Restore or Refinish

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