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Collectibles-General (Antiques)/Tomlinson Chair Mfg Co Small Hutch

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Hutch Tag
Hutch Tag  
Tomlinson Chair Mfg Co
Tomlinson Chair Mfg Co  
QUESTION: I would greatly appreciate any information and/or advice you could give me regarding the possible date of this furniture, the type of finish, and best method (products) to go about restoring this small hutch. A few details about the piece, my experience level, and my project questions:
The exact origin of this hutch is somewhat unknown. The hutch was handed down to me through my parents who acquired it in the late 1960's as part of a small residential apartment located in Orlando, FL. The apartment itself was built around 1928 and used to be rented furnished. In time, as renters would bring their own items, many pieces of furniture, ended up stored in the garage. (I know there is a matching hutch around twice the size of this one, that still resides in the apartment's storage garage.) I know this piece has experienced humidity issues since it was not always in a temperature controlled environment b/c the apartment was pre-air conditioner Florida.
I have had this hutch in my air conditioned home for the last 14 years.  The finish has always been in disrepair since I've know the piece, but I left it alone for fear of ruining it.
I have some experience refinishing a handful of 'non historical' pieces. It's been about 10 years, but I refinished 5 pieces of an oak bedroom set. Despite my inexperience, with some trial and error, and lots of patience, the oak set turned out pretty nice. One 'error' when I first started was I initially purchased some Formby's conditioning refinisher which I quickly discovered was not the product to use for that job. (FYI: I ended up using a chemical stripper, oil based stain, and brush on polyurethane top coat.)
Fast forward to present day, less than a month ago, I was given a desk with a finish in fairly good condition.  It had some water rings, minor scratches, and some areas of worn finish, but no flaking of the finish. I pulled out the old bottle of Formby's conditioning refinisher from all those years ago and had great success with refurbishing the desk to where it looked nearly new. (I finished it off with a couple of coats from a new bottle I bought of Formby's Tung Oil.)  Based on the positive experience I had with the desk, I thought the Formby products might be just the thing to finally refurbish the hutch without ruining it.  
I'm finding the hutch a different critter though and am finding myself afraid to proceed any further w/out some guidance.  The photo attached shows the piece BEFORE I did anything to it. This photo unfortunately omits part of the bottom detail of the piece with an obstruction. I have other detailed photos I took of sections, post initial work, but I felt the overall photo of the piece and tag were the most vital for now. Unfortunately, just these two photos omit some details I am referencing, but hopefully gives you enough to go on.  If I can email more photos to you, please let me know.

Okay, here's what I've done so far:
1. I started with my Formby's refinisher in a couple of fairly inconspicuous spots. I had great results with a section of the detailed inlay veneer that runs below the top rim.  The photo is pre work and as you can see is kind of dark and amberish. After using the Formby's refinisher, it's much brighter. I know my photo doesn't show the center bottom of the piece, but you can at least see some of the flaking condition on the outer sides of the bottom cross bar.  I tested the refinisher on that bottom cross bar where it was extremely flaked and felt it made some decent improvements there too, although it was a little 'gunky' and not as smooth going.  FYI: Not in this photo, but there is a 'black' finish which sits in a recessed circle in the center of the decorative scroll cross bar at the base.  The 'black' also appears at the base of the front spindles.  I'm not sure what the 'black' finish is so I didn't touch it.  I know you can't see it here, and it'd just be a guess, but could it be paint?  

I tried the Formby's on the top surface of the piece and on the decorative spindle but stopped b/c, I didn't feel I was getting good results.  Rather than 'thin and spread' the finish, I felt the formby's was only succeeding in pulling the finish off which also seemed to take a lot of the color as well.  (Is the dark color tied into the 'top coat'?)  Formby's is not an economical stripper (Not to mention it keeps eating through whatever gloves I buy) so I did not buy a new bottle of Formby's.  Since I figured I was just stripping the top coat of whatever is on the hutch (varnish? shellac?) with the Formby's, I switched over to a left over bottle of chemical stripper my dad gave me that is not supposed to take out the stain, just the varnish or shellac top coat.  I used that product on the top only.  Although it of course succeeded at taking off the gunked/flaked top coat, I fear it is leaving a 'streaked' look to the stain in the wood when it's dry.  When i 'wash' with mineral spirits the wood color still looks 'normal' w/out streaks, but I'm hesitant now to take any further steps for fear of ruining the piece. I started my research today.  My original guess was that the furniture was 1960's or 1970's era.  After my research today, i learned it might be circa 1930's.  Here are my questions to you:
1. Are you able to determine from my tag the origins and year of this piece? I saw somewhere else online that "Tomlinson Chair Mfg Co" changed their name after 1934 (which would pre-date my piece to that), but I haven't been able to verify that information through a reliable source.  The stamp, "Winter Park, FLA", on the tag I can only assume was done by a retailer in the Orlando area. (Winter Park is a well established 'historical' area of Orlando.)  However, I have no idea what the other information and numbers might indicate.  Do you know?
2. Can you determine from the history of the piece what sort of finish am I dealing with here?  Can you tell me if it's shellac or lacquer?  Is the wood stained in all areas?  I did not touch the 'black' detail that is w/in the circle of the scroll bar, or at the bottom of the spindled front legs.  Is that paint?  I assume the door is a veneer?  Any idea how to replace that broken 'plastic' piece?
3. With your knowledge & experience, what steps, and what sort of solvents, stains, sealers, or finishes would you recommend for how to proceed with my attempts to restore this piece?

It's probably clear that I'm not really concerned for any monetary value of the piece. (I wouldn't have touched it if I was.)  However,  I do want to keep the original beauty of the piece in tact w/out using too heavy a hand with it, but I would like to do it myself.   I realize I might have gone 'too far' regarding the top at least, but I'd appreciate any suggestions for how to proceed.  Thank you in advance for your kind help.

ANSWER: 1. Are you able to determine from my tag the origins and year of this piece? other information and numbers might indicate.  Do you know?

    It is from the 1920s judging from the style and name of the company as you found.
    winter park would have been the shipping destination.
    other marks and such would be proprietary to the company and no way for anyone
    out of the company at that time to know.

    
2. Can you determine from the history of the piece

   dont really understand this part of the question.  it was a manufactured
   piece that is a server and originally part of a dining room set.

2a.what sort of finish am I dealing with here?  
     lacquer most likely.  possibly shellac, shellac dissolves with denatured alcohol.
         

2b.Can you tell me if it's shellac or lacquer?  
      if alcohol dissolves it and it appears to be orange on a white
      rag then it is shellac.  also, shellac will fluoresce orange
      under a uv light. You will have to do the testing to see.

2c.Is the wood stained in all areas?  
       probably but i would have to be there an see it with my eyes to be sure.
       most all furniture was and is stained.

2d.I did not touch the 'black' detail that is w/in the circle of the scroll bar, or at the bottom of the spindled front legs.  Is that paint?
        either paint but more likely an analine water based dye.  If paint
        then it would sit on the wood, if stain then it is in the wood. YOu
        will have to inspect to determine, cant do that from photos.
        
2e.I assume the door is a veneer?  
         All will be veneer except the under structure.


2f.Any idea how to replace that broken 'plastic' piece?
         You will have to make it out of either plastic or metal, like a metal
         washer painted black or wood.  It does come off separate
         from the knob right??

3. With your knowledge & experience, what steps, and what sort of solvents, stains, sealers, or finishes would you recommend for how to proceed with my attempts to restore this piece?
====
take the doors and all hardware off
buy a good methylene based paint stripper, at least 2-5 gallons and strip everything wood.
once stripped lightly sand, more like wiping with sandpaper, 10- or 220 grit.  do not
get aggressive, wipe with sandpaper.

ready to stain.  get what ever color you want but i would use a light walnut if i wanted to have it be the same color, light.  or if i wanted it darker i would use a brown mahogany.

there are different types of stains available.  two main groupings are pigmented stain and dye stains.  difference, pigmented is like weak paint, the color is in suspension and it mush be stirred a lot an often.  dye stain the color is in solution like salt dissolved in water, no stiring.  this is sold as penetrating oil stain.  if you buy penetrating oil stain and have to stir gunk of the bottom of the can then it is not penetrating oil dye stain.  another type stain is gell stain, it is goof proof for consumers.  Minwax is also a good stain and is goof proof.  all stain is brushed on and wet, then wiped off while still wet.

sealers and coatings.
sealers are basically whatever you first put on.  sanding sealers are formulated to be easy to sand smooth.

shellac is a good finish, it can be sprayed or brushed on.  when brushing shellac, do not keep going back over it, brush on and keep moving---practice on something else first.

whatever finish you use will have to be applied-brush or spray-then rubed with 320 grit no fil paper before recoated, this would be repeated until it looks like you want it to look.  2-4 costs and rubbing.  and a final rub with #0000 steel wool then waxed.

i dont use or like polyurethane.
i like shellac, and lacquer, occasionally/rarely/sometimes varnish.

do you have spray equipment?  brushes?


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

QUESTION: Thank you for your detailed and helpful information.  I do not have spray equipment, but do have brushes.  

One question to clarify regarding the stains:  You mentioned Minwax is a good stain. Were you just referring to their gel stains?  I've used Minwax's regular oil stain in the yellow can before, but remember having to stir sediment from the bottom so I gather that is not the type you recommend.  I just want to make sure I'm reading correctly what you've written.

I will need to take a trip to the hardware store and see what sort of products to get.  Thank you again!

ANSWER: minwax gel would be ok just make sure that you wipe it dry and off after staining, stain should not sit on the surface like paint. all stain is meant to enter the wood.

minwax in the yellow can that you stir is ok and is a pigmented stain, if you are familiar with it then go ahead, stir a lot and you can thin it with mineral spirits to make it easier to use, slower to dry, and easier to wipe.  stain should be wiped off while still wet, if it dries, reocoat and wet again before trying to wipe or it will be muddy looking when done.

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

QUESTION: An update, and a couple of more questions:
1. I stripped the piece thoroughly
2. I stained the piece using the yellow can minwax wood stain since i had some experience with that product and you gave me a go ahead with it. I chose their English Chestnut and I'm really pleased with how it turned out.  The color is perfect and the stain went on and wiped off just like it should.  

I need to get a top coat on it now, and this is the step I fear the most.  You gave me some recommendations above, however I was curious to know with my particular stain choice if you had more specific recommendations for the top coat: Shellac or Lacquer?  Also, do you have a particular brand you recommend?

Also, because of the detail work with the spindled legs and the multiple meeting of joints, will brushing be too difficult or should I steer towards buying spray cans?  I have decent skills with a paint brush, but having never used lacquer or shellac, i don't know if one is more forgiving.  Any further advice would be appreciated.   

Thank you again for your helpful advice with my project.

Answer
??I need to get a top coat on it now, and this is the step I fear the most.  

BK
what are you most familiar with using for top coat?


??You gave me some recommendations above, however I was curious to know with my particular stain choice if you had more specific recommendations for the top coat: Shellac or Lacquer?  Also, do you have a particular brand you recommend?

BK
shellac is only one brand, Zinsser. if you go with shellac get Zinsser Seal Coat Shellac.  it is a two pound cut of dewaxed shellac.  when brushing shellac you lay it down but do not try to brush it back and forth, it dries fast and you always-always put on thin coats.  thin with denatured alcohol.  If you have never used it then you should practice on something else.
lacquer comes in many brands, lacquer must be sprayed unless you buy deft brand.
deft has a retarder in it to slow the dry time so you can brush rather than spray, lacquer is made to spray, the deft brand lacquer is for brushing and is often called brushing lacquer.


??Also, because of the detail work with the spindled legs and the multiple meeting of joints, will brushing be too difficult or should I steer towards buying spray cans?  I have decent skills with a paint brush, but having never used lacquer or shellac, i don't know if one is more forgiving.

BK
spray cans will cost lots more, way lots more.  Most are cheap lacquers as well unless you buy from woodfinishers depot dot com.  IF you use deft that will not be a problem, brush as usual with a good brush, one inch or 1.5 inch wide works best even for large flat areas.




??Any further advice would be appreciated.

BK
ask anything anytime   



??Thank you again for your helpful advice with my project.

BK
you are certainly welcome

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robert klein

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In regards to American antique, vintage and collectible furniture I can help with wood identification, styles, age, periods, historical coatings, materials, techniques, repair, restoration, refinishing, and value. I do not study mid century and later furniture nor do I deal in lamps, and other smalls. robertsantiques@cox.net You may ask for values and I will give you current market values, I will not give you 'feel good' values. Understand that there are many factors that contribute to market value. If you want a feel good, unrealistic number, please call a local inexperienced appraiser. It is my desire to help you and in doing so I increase my knowledge as well. For that I thank you.

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I have been in the antiques furniture and restoration business and in the sales of antique furniture for 40+ years and have continued my education in the trade attending workshops and seminars by various organizations, institutions, and private collectors.

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Professional Refinishers Groop, Int., AIC, Antiques Dealers Association

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BA Florida State University BA University of West Florida 1971

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