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Cabinets, Furniture, Woodworks/Restoring a 19502 Rosewood table



I wonder if you can advise me? I have recently bought a 1950s 'Beautili Tea' extending table in rosewood. It has a number of light scratches and one deeper scratch. The finish appears to have worn off at the edges, and the overall colour of the table has faded a little in places - especially the outer 2 thirds as the inner third has been tucked underneath.

The legs and chairs are all in better condition.

My plan was to strip the table top and softly rub with steel wool 0000. I was then planning to stain the top with as close a match as I can find to the legs, and then varnish on top.

My question is; are there any glaring errors with this approach? And at what stage would I need to fill the deeper scratch, or if I'm staining the whole top will this camouflage it?

Thank you so much in advance!

ANSWER: Hi Sarah, these were finished with an oil finish, and often the finish can be cleaned and rejuvenated with more oil and some techniques.Stripping these finishes is also quite difficult, as they are penetrating finishes that seep into the wood fibers and harden from within.Scratches are always tough to completely remove, especially if large or perpendicular to the grain. If you are going to strip the top, then you will have more chance to remove the scratch as you'll be down to the bare wood.There is a Watco brand Danish oil product that is very good, and it comes in colors as well, and it can be applied with fine steel wool or 320-600 grit sandpaper to 'wet sand' the finish. This is usually quite a good way to approach a restoration of the original surface, but it depends on how different it looks from the rest of the piece, and how damaged it is, and the techniques used, as to whether or not it would be successful...and usually there's no easy way to know that.I would start by wetting the top with some mineral spirits and see what it looks like. It may look quite nice when evenly wet with the solvent, and in that case, it is possible it would restore well. Unfortunately, it's not really the realm of the novice to easily make those decisions, but start there and lets see where we go...Post back - Regards-Greg

This is usually a good choice for Rosewood and medium Teak.

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


Thank you so much for taking the time to reply in so much detail. It may be from what you say that I could forego the stripping and simply try and rejuvenate the existing finish. As you say, hard for judge without an image.

I have some questions:

1. Is the Danish oil you recommend (thanks) to be used for the purposes of cleaning / rejuvenating rather than stripping? If so, why the use of steel wool rather than a cotton cloth? Is this just to penetrate below the existing oil finish?

2. By using mineral spirits (I believe this is what we call White Spirit in the UK), would this serve simply as a sort of test, or would it strip the top or have any effect on the finish?

I'd be happy to include a couple of images if this helped?

Thanks again,

1) Yes, steelwool will allow you to scrub the surface clean of any waxes, dirt, grime, while at the same time freshening the finish. You can select a grade from 00 to 0000 depending on how abrasive you want to will only be affecting the very surface of the piece, however... another good way is to actually wet sand with the Danish oil and some 320-600 grit sandpaper, but this is more abrasive still...and use of this technique would only be warranted if needed, and again, that's very difficult for me to tell you... and this is where coloration comes in, as there are many shades of deep red, to light Teak brown that these pieces can take on, depending on UV exposure, oxidation, and difference to the base and other takes a little knowledge to know how to work with this,(and of course the ability to see/touch the piece!)
2) Yes, it would only clean a little with a cloth, but it would wet the surface and give you an idea of the actual condition, and a fair resemblance of what adding more oil finish to it would achieve.It will not affect the finish in a solvent would need a chemical stripper to do that.These oil finishes are "long" oils that cure hard from within the wood itself like a varnish.The more coats, the more they 'build' in film thickness, but usually they are thin enough that one can see the pores of the wood. They are very tough and durable once fully cured...and this makes them difficult to remove completely as well if they get past a point of rejuvenation/restoration.

Pictures are always a help!

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Greg Scholl


Questions on Woodworking, wood finishing and refinishing of all kinds, repairing furniture and wooden objects, Architectural details, Woodturning, carving, tool usage, product usage, some chemistry as it applies to woodworking and related interests,cabinet making and furniture construction/design, etc. I have experience with all manners of colorants, finishes, paints, stains, dyes, glazes, and coatings, wood species recognition and usage,tool recommendations, blade types and recommendation,techniques and methods for many Woodworking related issues, etc.


Fine furniture restorer and cabinet maker for over 30 years,serving high end Antique dealers, Interior designers, Collectors in the CT area. Consulting for area Painting/Decorating and Building contractors on non painting issues..(staining, wood prep.,clear finishing, floor restoration and architectural detail restoration and repair, etc.) Sold, built, serviced, setup Home, Industrial, and Commercial stationary woodworking tools for a major tool retailer in CT. for three years, sold hand and power tools , provided knowledge, parts replacement, service, and on site service, Trade show Demo, and training as well.

Published in Fine Woodworking Magazine (12/97), included on Fine Woodworkings first "Best of Fine Woodworking" CD-ROM (2002) ...("27 year compilation of expert know-how")

Art School at Silvermine Guild in Norwalk, CT., 9 year apprenticeship in a European run Cabinet and Restoration shop in CT., various classes on subjects having to do with the field. Seminars from major Tool manufacturers, Skil/Bosch, Delta, Powermatic, Ritter, Porter cable, Milwaukee, Dewalt/B&Decker, Performax.

Past/Present Clients
Many varied clients including work on Martha Stewarts' Westport, CT. show house, many fine Antique dealers and private collectors in and around Fairfield County and in Woodbury, CT. (the Antiques capital of CT.), Golden Age of Trucking Museum,Consulting for area Painting/Decorating and Building contractors on non painting issues..(staining, wood prep.,clear finishing, floor restoration and architectural detail restoration and repair, etc.), local Museums and Historical Societies. For the last two years I have been employed with Schwenke Auctioneers Inc.- Woodbury Auction LLC., as a staff photographer,IT tech,and doing restoration and repair work as well.

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