Cabinets, Furniture, Woodworks/Dining Room Furniture


Hi Eileen, Hope you are well. Was so excited to find this site again. Four or more years ago you taught me how to "refresh" my woodwork with a tsp wash, stain and poly and that has made me so happy both with my home and with myself and really got me started doing some other home repairs/renovations.  

Currently, I have a dark stained wood dining room set maybe from the 1930's. Overall it is in good shape. I don't know what clear finish was originally used. I would like to clean it and "refresh" it.  

I have been considering doing the same process as I used on my baseboards but find myself hesitating to tsp it. I assume I will need to clean/degrease it and then touch up with matching stain and follow that with some poly or tung oil or something to protect it.

I did wash the top of my server with soap and water as recommended by someone and now the clear finish seems more splotchy and worn off.  The stain color is mostly intact throughout the pieces although I do have several spots that will need matching stain applied. I have read a bunch of blogs, posts etc. and am getting more confused.  I wonder if cleaning it with mineral spirits would be better than tsp or more soap and water.

Also, there are two areas (fortunately they are on the sides of my hutch and server and not terribly visible) where the veneer has come off.  I have read about patching veneer and am willing to consider doing that. I am also okay with applying dark stain to the areas and being okay with that.  

Bottom line, I want my furniture to look clean, evenly colored and "softly" shiny as you would expect wood to look.  I have a place that will help me match the stain but would love your advice on products and the exact process.

Many thanks, Laure

Hi again Laure
So glad I was helpful in the past. Its good to hear comments like yours as it makes volunterring such a joy. are almost there with your research so you are doing great.
I was happy to hear you were hesitant about using water on your furniture..don't ever do it.
The correct thing to do is this..
1..Using fine steel wool and mineral spirits (called varsol in Canada), give the furniture a gentle scrub. Try to work with the grain. On turnings like table or chair legs its OK to go around and around. Dry with clean rags as you go. Let dry well. You may have a slight haze but thats OK. You will also be amazed at the grime this takes off.
2..Next we will stain. No need to worry about getting stain matched. Minwax oil based stain in "Special Walnut" color is the correct one for your set. Simply wipe it on with a rag. Wipe off any excess with another rag. Let this really really dry. It could take up to a few days but don't worry, it will dry.
3..Next is a finish. Wipe on a coat of tung oil with a rag. I use only "Circa" brand low luster tung oil.
Thats like new.
For the veneer thats damaged, you can certainly make it look better by getting some colored wood filler. Use dark walnut in this case.
After the mineral spirit wash, fill the areas with the filler. It will take 3 coats with gently sanding between coats to get a perfectly smooth repair. Use 180 grit paper for the sanding. And careful careful is the rule as you do not want to damage the surrounding veneer.
Then stain the entire piece and finish as directed above.
And don't loose me again LOL

Cabinets, Furniture, Woodworks

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Eileen Cronk


Hi..I can answer most questions about the repairing,stripping and refinishing of all your old furniture and wood items(the things we call antiques)I can give advice about what to buy/avoid at auctions/flea markets. I do not give appraisals on antiques.


I have been refinishing antiques for the past 30yrs. While I have taken several courses over the years,I have found that "hands on" learning is the best teacher. Perhaps I can help you avoid some of the mistakes I made while learning.

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