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Antique Furniture/Refinishing Maple Dresser/nightstand

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QUESTION: Okay, Robert, I'm back to bother you again.  Over the weekend we purchased the maple bedroom set made in 1953 that I had mentioned previously.  It's a beautiful set, but there is a lot of damage to the top of one nightstand; the other nightstand has a little damage, but not too bad; the men's chest is perfect; and the long dresser seems to have blotches that you can feel, but I can't get rid of.  I've wiped the whole set down with Dawn and warm water, then used the Murphy's Oil Soap.  It is amazing how much grime came off of this set, but I can't seem to get rid of the marks on the dresser.  I've taken pictures, which I will email you.  I'm hoping you can tell me what I need to do to repair/refinish these pieces, if they can be repaired. I don't mind the scratches, wear or marks here and there on the pieces, adds character, but as you can see there is some work that needs to be done.  It appears from some of the pics that there may be a veneer on top of the pieces, is that right?  If so, is that something that can be refinished.  And how would I go about matching the color, since I'm really only interested in repairing the tops of the two nightstands and the long dresser?  We absolutely love the set, and have no intention of parting with it, but I am curious as to whether you feel it's worth what we paid for it as well.  FYI, I also got the Drexel bedroom set - it was a busy weekend for furniture shopping...

ANSWER: from what i saw in the photos you sent you will have to strip the tops, tops only.  Any stripper with methylene chloride as it main ingredient (75%+) will work best.  do it outside.  

tape off the rest of the dresser with several coats of paper like you see done in auto body shops using blue tape.  bottom layer of paper is best if wax coated.  newspaper or brown auto body type is good too and comes in rolls.

strip the top and wash with lacquer thinner.  make sure you wash with lacquer thinner to remove any dawn and oil soap that has penetrated into the wood grain.

sand with 180 grip paper.  then wet the top with lacquer thinner and whatever that color is will be the color without stain.  see how close it is to the rest then we can discuss stain.

yes it is a veneer top, might be cherry.



---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thanks, Robert, for the instructions.  I think I'm going to start this project this weekend.  I just want to be a hundred percent clear because I really don't want to mess this up.  How many applications of stripper should I apply?  Do I just stop once it's smooth to the touch basically?  Then wash with lacquer thinner.  Does it have to dry completely before starting the light sanding?  Will the sanding leave scratches on the veneer top?  Is the 180 grit sandpaper better than the steel wool to use here? In one of the pictures of the 2nd nightstand there's what appears to be a crack, do I sand that completely out or just lighten the appearance of it?  And how do you feel about that environmentally friendly Citris stripper for this project?
Thank you again...

Answer
QUESTION:  How many applications of stripper should I apply?  Do I just stop once it's smooth to the touch basically?

bk>
you are not going for smooth, you are going for clean.  i strongly urge you, if you have no experience in stripping wood, to practice on something else first.  stripper is applied and allowed to sit and do its work, do not use thick bodies stripper and keep the surface wet while stripping.  Practice first or you will have a mess and be unhappy.


Then wash with lacquer thinner.

bk>
you will first wash with clean stripper and a rag.  then wipe with lacquer thinner using a rag.


Does it have to dry completely before starting the light sanding?

bk>
yes, a few days is best.


Will the sanding leave scratches on the veneer top?

bk>
non aggressive sanding with 180 or 220 will be fine, maybe even 320, i cannot tell you as I will not be able to see the discolorations or smoothness of the surface.  remember that sanding is gentle.



Is the 180 grit sandpaper better than the steel wool to use here?

bk>
steel wool will do no good other than embed steel into the wood which may discolor after finishing.


In one of the pictures of the 2nd nightstand there's what appears to be a crack, do I sand that completely out or just lighten the appearance of it?  

bk>
resend picture of crack



And how do you feel about that environmentally friendly Citris stripper for this project?

bk>
i have no opinion of it as i have no experience with it.  I do know that there is no truth in advertising.  Most nice smelling environmentally safe things in this field use terpenes.
I prefer methylene chloride based stripper.  What the gubermint says is of no importance.  tests showed that the 'harmful' methylene chloride' if poured on a surface, ground or non porous could not be detected after 72 hours.  did you know that it is used to decaffeinate coffee?  However, you must have good ventilation.

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robert klein

Expertise

Regarding American antique, vintage, and collectible furniture I can help with wood identification, styles, age, periods, historical coatings, materials, techniques, repair, restoration, refinishing. Please read instructions for posting.

Experience

I have been in the antiques furniture and restoration business and in the sales of American antique furniture for 40+ years and have continued my education in the trade attending workshops and seminars through several organizations.

Organizations
Professional Refinishers Groop, Int., AIC, Antiques Dealers Association

Education/Credentials
BA Florida State University BA University of West Florida 1971

Past/Present Clients
They deserve privacy, sorry.

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