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Collectibles-General (Antiques)/Ebonised oak monks bench


Could you advise me on how I can renew the above..I wish to restore the wood to its natural finish but I have no idea on how I can remove the dark (I believe ebonised) stain. The monks bench has lions as arm rests and carvings on the sides and top.
I hope you can help
Thank you very much for your time.
Roger Davies

ANSWER: Hi Roger
Nice to hear from you.
If you are wanting to remove the dark stain, the only way to do this is by stripping the piece down to bare wood.
This will not guarentee the dark color that has absorbed into the oak will come off..likely not as oak can really absorb color.
Please think about leaving the bench as is.
But if you are determined to try, get back and I will send the stripping info.

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

Thank you so much for getting back to me...I would be grateful if you would send me the information on how to strip it back.
Again many thanks

Hi again Roger
Here is the info.
Try a test section in an inconspicuous spot to ensure the dark stain will come off.

The first thing you must do is assemble the material to do the job.
The stripper is the most important item.  
I am hoping you can get "CIRCA 1850" brand paint and varnish remover in your area.
Here is a link
If you cannot get this brand, ask for an mc stripper as it comes in different brand names.

MATERIAL LIST For the stripping stage.
1 gallon stripper
3 boxes of Bull Dog steel wool in medium grade.
One 3 inch oil based paint brush.
Rubber gloves (like you do dishes with), and a pair of cotton gloves inside the rubber ones.
People react differently to stripper. A lot of people feel heat through the rubber gloves, but I feel cold. Have no idea why.
An empty large coffee can. (for the stripper)
A couple of old tooth brushes.
Lots of old rags (I like t-shirts or cotton but for this first stage whatever you have)
Lots of newspaper to protect the garage floor
That's all you need to get started.
Work in sections.
Brush on the stripper with the brush. Stripper will quit working if it dries, so keep it wet till the finish softens.
Then take a rag and wipe this mess off.
Then another coat of stripper, rag off again, then while the wood is still wet, take the steel wool and rub with the grain till the wood is nice and clean.
Depending on the material you are removing, another coat of stripper is often needed but you will know this as you progress into the job.
Use the toothbrush in crevices.
Thats all there is to it ...move to another section and continue.
No other prep is necessary...and DO NOT SAND
When the stripping is complete, stain with Minwax oil stain applied with a rag, then 3 or 4 coats of low lustre tung oil also applied with a rag, or the finish of your choice. Tung oil is mine.
Please let me know if anything is not 100% clear.  

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Eileen Cronk


I can answer most questions about the repairing and refinishing of all your old furniture items (the things we call antiques). I can also give you advice on what wood items to choose and what wood items to avoid at auctions, flea markets etc. I DO NOT give appraisals on antiques as this is not my field of expertise.


I have been repairing, refinishing and of course buying old furniture for the past 30 years. On any given weekend I can be found at auction sales or flea markets searching out a good buy. I have taken several courses in this area over the years, but I find "Hands On" learning to be the best teacher. I can help you avoid the pitfalls and problems of this wonderful rewarding craft.

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