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Cabinets, Furniture, Woodworks/Ethan Allen Georgian Court butler table


Hello Greg,
At a recent party, one of my guests spilled an alcoholic drink on
my 30 year old Ethan Allen cherry Georgian Court butler table, which wasn't noticed until the next morning.  The finish turned white.  I called my local Ethan Allen furniture store for a recommendation on a refinisher.  
The refinisher removed the damaged finish and lightly steel-wooled the surface - the stain was not damaged. He then applied a gloss spray lacquer.
It looked OK while it was still wet, but when it dried, it was still rather flat and did match the gloss of the four hinged side panels of the table.
I hired a recommended professional, but the results are not acceptable.  Does he know what he is doing?  Should I call him back or call someone else?  I have heard you talk about the Ethan Allen 'Top Coat' on their furniture - should I just try and order this and apply it myself?
Thanks in advance for your reply.

Hi Carole, sorry about your sounds like the "refinisher" didn't know what he's doing if it doesn't match. It's also hard to believe he could strip it with out removing the the color a match to the side panels? It's possible it's not stained. The "Ethan Allen" topcoat you describe hearing me talk about is actually a process.So many people think..."if I can just get the right stain I can match it perfectly", which is not true.. typically a lacquer finish like this is several steps, starting with preparing the wood, then a pore filler if it's Mahogany, Walnut, or another open grained wood, stain coat(s)..(sometimes 2 or more stains are used to get the color and shading/ patina), one or more sealer coats, sometimes a colored 'toner' coat, (which is quite common with Ethan Allen)... and then 2-3 coats of the desired sheen topcoat...with the appropriate sanding/rubbing as warranted between coats to match the original 'look'.I would also clean and touch up the side panels and then spray them with the final clear coat to make the match that much closer... I'm also confused as to why his finish is not really Glossy, as it should be if, in fact, he used a Gloss lacquer. These finishes are never Gloss though, almost always Satin or maybe a semi-Gloss lacquer is used on their furniture. Often the final finish is rubbed out to the desired 'look', using wet sanding, steel wool, or even a polishing compound of some type....or a combination of these techniques. Some questions you could ask are , how many coats did he use and what was the finishing schedule...(meaning the 'process' as outlined above),it should sound very similar to my description when done correctly.. and why would he use a Gloss lacquer which is never used in this type of factory setting...(ok, ALMOST never)...certainly not a 30 year old finish, it would've almost certainly have been a Satin, nitro cellulose lacquer finish. It takes some serious skills to be able to match these finishes, and it is NOT a DIY job as you can see from my description...and I'm surprised this guy is recommended by Ethan Allen...he should be able to match this finish and recreate it NO problem, but it's fairly labor intensive when done correctly, as you can see....please feel free to post back and or post a picture- Regards

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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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