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Cabinets, Furniture, Woodworks/raw pine dining table sealer

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QUESTION: I purchased a table from Restoration Hardware that is salvaged reclaimed pine in a"natural" finish.  I think there is a stain on the wood as I have noticed a spot they missed where the wood is lighter underneath. The wood seems dry and "raw" ... I want to stop the wood from drying out further  and seal it so we can enjoy using it as a dining table instead of an ornament! I would like to seal it without darkening it.  It used some beeswax on a small area to moisturize it and it darkened that area permanently.  Can you recommend anything?  Thank you!

ANSWER: Hi Carol, I certainly wish people would consult me before they try to "fix" a problem like this...these finishes are probably based on an Acrylic urethane, as these finishes affect the color of a soft wood the least, but their finishes are a trade secret, and therefore it's difficult to know exactly what the finish schedule is. (these are a multi step finish process.)
Now that you've put wax on the softwood, anything you try to touch up the finish with will not stick to the wood. You have to remove the wax, which on a soft wood, will have soaked into it, hence the reason it went dark. I'm a bit confused as to why you wouldn't have consulted them about the finish, as this was a new table and shouldn't have been sold with the defect to begin with...and I'd be very interested in what their response would have been. Can you provide a picture of the piece, and one of a close up of the damaged area? That might be helpful.
Regards, Greg

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

Tabletop
Tabletop  

Darkened corner
Darkened corner  
QUESTION: Hi Greg - Thank you for the response ... I've attached a photo of the table top as well as the corner of the pedestal on the floor where I applied the beeswax and it has darkened.  Is there a way to accomplish a water proof finish that doesn't darken the wood? And, do I need to moisturize the wood first? Restoration Hardware told me that if we had a spill, the finish could "just be sanded" ... I don't think that's true because, as you can see from the photo, there is a wood stain finish on the table that doesn't seem to penetrate.  Again, I appreciate your help.
Thanks!!
Carol

Answer
Hey Carol, advising you to sand the table is definitely a wrong answer...it looks like it just has a dry stain wash on it, which offers very little protection at all. "Moisturizing" the wood is a misnomer, you can't/don't "moisturize" wood, you finish it, and the wood will acclimate to the environment it is in as far as relative humidity, etc. Almost all furniture is finished. A layer of hard protection on top of the wood, and I always chuckle when I hear polish or spray wax companies claiming that their product can "moisturize" your wood surfaces...Not true. They deposit any matter of oil, wax, and/or silicone based polishes onto the surface to make them shine. As I mentioned, a waterborne Acrylic finish will protect without darkening the wood a lot, but some darkening is possible. A clear wax, on some surfaces will also not darken a lot, (after it dries completely), but it offers VERY little protection for a table top, and sets you up for a maintenance nightmare. From what I've seen of this furniture, it looks like they use a paint or pigment based wash, that does not penetrate the wood very deeply, (unlike a stain), maybe a matte or flat acrylic to seal that in, and then followed by a wax, sometimes a colored wax....but the typical employee really knows nothing about finishing or finishes, and they really should be trained to give you correct answers, or not to offer an answer. These furniture companies have developed these finishes to set them apart from other manufacturers...and that gives them an edge on the "look", and they're also quite secretive about how they get these finishes to give them that look...not volunteering their techniques, even with prodding and asking nicely...I've tried. Your table looks like it has very little finish on it, and if it was bought in that condition, with the marks and missing finish, I would have returned it immediately, as it certainly will not stand up to regular use, let alone cleaning and maintaining it...and you as the end consumer, shouldn't have to worry about that. Post back, Regards again,
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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