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Cabinets, Furniture, Woodworks/Refinishing a MCM table

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Table
Table  

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I'd like to do some work on my mid century dining table.    It's a Conant Ball table that I believe to be maple or birch.   The previous owner did some work refinishing it.  However, she didn't do anything to the leaves.    So, I think the 2 leaves still have the original finish.   I'd like to get the whole table top matching the same finish, or something close, of the leaves.   Will you take a look at the table and give me some ideas about how to best proceed?   I may have it professionally  refinished in a few years when my kids are older, and I especially don't want to do anything that would cause that process to be more difficult.    In the meantime, I want as  even colored a tabletop as possible.    I usually keep one leaf in the table.    I do have some experience in stripping, staining, and painting furniture.   I'm not necessarily interested in a perfect finish,  just something that will be  all right until I can have a professional do it!  Thanks so much!

Answer
Hey Jen, the leaves look like the typical lacquer finish of the time, where they used "toning" to give the wood a richer, more even color and finish. Notice how it hides the individual boards used to assemble the top much better than the new finish. It's a process of spraying colored lacquer over the stain, and under the topcoats.
In order to really get a match...and make it worth the effort, you'd need to strip the whole table and all the leaves and start a new. But if you want to strip the leaves and try to match the table, it's likely whomever did the job just use the typical stain and then clear coat regime....and you might be able to come pretty close to the 'look' of the rest of the table....but to apply a 'toned' finish like the leaves have to the whole table, is typically not the job of a novice, without spray equipment, the proper materials, and the skill set to use them...a layered finish utilizing a dye stain, followed by a sealer, then a Gel pigmented stain, followed by top coats can also give the 'toned' look, but again, this is not the realm of the typical DIY'er....it takes experience, and familiarity with the process and proper materials, to be successful and end up with a professional looking job. The existing finish looks in fairly good shape....even though it doesn't match the leaves....so you have a decision to make, and I hope I haven't made it even harder to decide...please post back.
Regards,
Greg

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Greg Scholl

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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.

Experience

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.

Publications
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")

Education/Credentials
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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