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Cabinet Radio
Cabinet Radio  

Cabinet Radio 2
Cabinet Radio 2  
I have a Farnsworth EK-140 Radio made in 1946 which I believe still has the original finish (although there are many small areas where the finish has worn off and only the wood remains - much lighter than the finished areas). Is this lacquer? And how do I restore it?

I have decided against a full re-finishing/re-staining (very expensive) and am opting for a DIY semi-restoration. I just want the entire cabinet to look cohesive and I don't care too much about the nicks and scratches. I also don't want to sand off the piece's history. How can I go about touching this piece up? Do I clean with mineral spirits or Murphy's Oil Soap first? Do I use a clear lacquer over everything? A tinted lacquer? How can I make the finish deeper/darker in color? Thank you!

Answer
Michael,
That is a very attactive Cabinet Radio

First of all; the finish would most likely be a shellac or lacquer finish in 1946.
Looking at your piece it looks like lacquer,

To test for shellac - apply a few small drops of denatured alcohol; in an inconspicuous area - return in a couple of minutes - touch with a soft bristle brush - if is soft and sticky it should be shallac.

For your lacquer test - use lacquer thinner in the same manner as you use the denatured alchol.

If it is shellac; you don't want to use lacquer to refurbish - it would be too hot and dissolve some of the finish.

If you are trying to keep the grain and depth percepton; I wouldn't use a tinted lacquer.
If you just want a darker opaque finish - use a tinted lacquer
With lacquer; I would clean with xylene - it has the least amount of petroleum; after distillation and leaves very little residue.  (be careful with this)

If you want to touch-up the worn areas; before spraying clear or tinted, dip a small tip brush into the color of lacquer; that you think is going work - and brush lightly with a small amout of the color you are going to use.

It's a fairly large piece to use spray cans. It can be done; if you are exerienced wity spray cans.

Please email me with any further questions; if you desire.

Good luck,

Joe Eldredge
Conscientious Wood Care  

Cabinets, Furniture, Woodworks

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Joseph A. Eldredge

Expertise

We have been in the wood care business for almost 30 years (we are still learning) We do refurbishing and touch-up of furniture, paneling, antiques etc. The number one question that we receive; is what do I use on my furniture, to keep it looking moisturized, clean and get the depth perception back into the finish. I believe we can help on products to use and answer questions on why we don't use certain products that are available to us. I am sure that there are many questions on wood care that we can't answer; but, give us a try anyway. We find that many people use products for maintaining the wooden furniture, etc., and can't understand the reason it looks worse as they continue to use certain products. Most people use the products that their mothers and grandmothers used. Finishes on furniture have come a long way; from shellacs, waxes, varnishes etc. Give us an email and see if we can help with some of your questions and concerns.

Experience

Have worked in Omni, Brown Palace etc. hotels. Have refurbish items in the Colorado Govenors mansion and the Colorado Capital building etc. We have been caring for millions of dollars worth of furniture and antiques for large corporations for years.

Education/Credentials
Have received certificates from numerous companies who teach wood care clases through-out the country.

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