Without doubt this was the hardest table we have ever restored! How hard can restoring and re-finishing a table be I hear you ask, well I suppose everything is relative but this one was an absolute dog! The 1970’s / 80’s extending dining table had been finished with a serious lacquer, almost bullet proof. Which is great for the client but extremely hard work for us to remove and re-finish.
As you can see the surface finish had worn well but over the years had become yellowed in areas, patchy and discoloured. None of these marks were through to the timber veneer which is great but they were all in the extremely thick two-pac top coat used. We set about stripping the table using our regular varnish and paint stripper which has no nasty odours or chemical and nine times out of ten will do the trick… Unfortunately it did not really touch this finish, the slightest of sticky top coat was removed. We moved onto the hard stuff… NASTY, bad odours, bad chemicals this really is a last resort for us but we were left with no option. Now this dis start to remove the top coat but still stubborn areas remain. In consultation with our client we decided to sand! This really breaks our policy of not removing any history or de-valuing a piece of furniture by sanding, but due to the extreme durability of the top coat the table was in near showroom condition. It was decided it was worth the risk… I say risk as with sanding any veneered table there is always a chance of breaking through to the chipboard substrate under the veneer, we had to be very careful.
Finally a breakthrough the table was fully sanded (extremely carefully) the veneer was still in-tact and ready to take a new stain. I know can you believe it after all that work we now needed to put the colour back into the table! We thought the work was almost complete once we had all the top surfaces sanded and back to raw, how wrong we were this really marked the half way point in the journey. The edges proved to be just as, if not more difficult to work with. Due to the shape we had to use a special tool to ensure we did not dis-figure the curvature on the edge.
Now at this stage we calculated the hours spent on the job, we had almost double the quote and still only half way though the process. We take a pragmatic view to our restoration and always honour the quote that we have provided our clients, so we really just had to suck it up and finish the job to the highest standard possible no matter how far over time and over budget we ended up.
Once the edges were completely sanded ( two days work), we started to build up the tint stain. Our client had specified that he would like the table a few shades darker than the original finish, so we used a brown Japan stain to add the required colour. Finally this extremely stubborn dining table was ready for its final coats of clear wood-wax. This is an extremely durable natural finish for furniture and flooring but we love it because it really does give the desired feel to antique furniture.
Phew this sucker was finished, we were really happy with the results and so was our client Michael. In total we were four times over budget but sometimes you win sometimes you loose. The main thing is we had learned a lot from this journey and come out the other side with exactly what our client wanted, a beautifully restored and refinish antique extendable dining table. We went home and had a well earned beer, and live to fight another day 🙂
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