MCM Home Interior Restoration (Wood) Help

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WiscoUsonIan
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MCM Home Interior Restoration (Wood) Help

Postby WiscoUsonIan » Thu Dec 13, 2012 7:18 am

Hey everyone, happy holidays to you all.

Now that winter has come upon us, I'm interested to turning my work indoors to refinish the interior of my house. The interior of my house is mostly wood and in need of refinishing. The beams have water marks from old roofing issues, the ceiling tongue and groove also has some water marks, the Mahogany paneling is ready to be refreshed, the stripped mahogany counters are desperately worn and need a new life.

That being said I'm somewhat familiar with wood working, but i don't know where to start with refinishing these items. What should my process be?

Sand rough (150 grit)
Sand smooth (180)
vanish with multiple coats,
sand smooth (220) or steel wool
wax to complete finish

Will i need to stain at all after sanding? I don't expect to sand very much, just a refresher more or less. Should i use something like a Watco first, then varnish? What type of varnish should I use?

this is going to take forever!

thanks for the help...
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Postby SDR » Thu Dec 13, 2012 8:33 pm

You don't want to sand some finish off and leave some on. Once you start, carry it through until you have as uniform a surface as possible -- or any subsequent steps (even leaving it bare) will almost certainly produce an uneven, splotchy color.

Use a paper dust mask when doing serious sanding; mahogany can irritate some people's lungs.

Let the materials tell you what grit to start with. That is, if the sandpaper loads almost immediately with finish residue, switch to the next coarser grade. I wouldn't be surprised if you need 120 or even 100 grit on some previously-finished wood, depending on the amount of finish. The goal is to arrive at a surface that's like freshly-sanded new wood. Always sand with the grain when hand sanding; watch for swirl marks when using an orbital sander. (Don't use anything coarser than 120 or 150 grit with an electric sander on a soft wood like mahogany.)

(A caveat is that, with fully-coated wood, it may be possible to leave a cover and not go to raw wood. In that case, sand with fine paper only and be sure not to penetrate the finish. Sand with the grain; this helps hide sanding marks.)

For hand sanding wrap a 1/4 or 1/2 sheet around a padded block big enough to grip comfortably, and rub firmly with the grain. Change paper often; blow or swat to clear the dust from the paper as necessary. Stick a piece of self-adhesive paper (from sanding discs, perhaps) to a broad springy putty knife, to reach into edges of the panel or part being sanded. Be sure to vacuum all dust away before going forward with finish material.

I avoid staining (coloring) when possible; mahogany has a lovely color with just a clear coat. Stain helps hide uneven wood color. Test what a clear finish would look like by squirting or brushing on some thinner -- or wet your thumb and make a mark. The color will be richer and darker than the raw wood, by a good deal.

Stain can instantly exaggerate any imperfections in the wood, including imperfect sanding. Avoid it if you can.

SDR

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Van
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Postby Van » Fri Dec 14, 2012 6:52 am

I am by no means an expert but I would avoid using steel wool. Little bits can get left behind and if you cover the wood with something water based, you'll have rust stains.

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Postby SDR » Fri Dec 14, 2012 8:23 am

That's right. Good point.

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Postby WiscoUsonIan » Fri Dec 14, 2012 10:01 am

Thanks SDR,

I'll probably do most with a random orbital, but with the grain, and hand sanding the details. I've also got a multi tool to get small detail areas.

I'll avoid stain, And probably simply varnish once it's been sanded. Most wall, ceiling areas, and cabinet doors might not need to be sanded to the wood, but the mahogany built in tops will definitely. As long as i'm consistent about the treatment each type service gets, it should turn out fine.

Do you have any recommendations on a varnish type?

Thanks!
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Postby SDR » Fri Dec 14, 2012 4:44 pm

Finish is my weak point as a cabinetmaker-furnituremaker. I've always had help in that department. Lately I've been using water-borne polyurethane products with good success. Traditionalists insist on oil-based finishes -- I have no argument with that, other than convenience.

Stay away from brushable lacquers like Deft for wear surfaces -- though they'd be fine for vertical surfaces. I have some in my house, and I like the satiny-waxy surface. You can get three coats on in a day.

Try to get scraps of similar wood, to try your choices on -- for practice with technique as well as appearance. A half-sheet of mahogany veneer ply would be a good investment. A local cabinet shop may be selling or discarding scrap material.

I expect other readers will have advice of their own.

SDR

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Postby Panton-ite » Fri Dec 14, 2012 5:37 pm

I own a wood refinishing business and I would echo what SDR has said. The only thing I would add, is to try tung oil. After trying just about everything, I pretty much just use tung oil when refinishing interior wood in my MCM. Tung oil will bring out the grain and amber a bit, while still looking "natural." The only problem is the smell, if you are doing a large area. My wife threatens to move out every time I break out the tung oil!

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Postby SDR » Fri Dec 14, 2012 5:58 pm

Thanks, Panton-ite. Maybe there's an alternative that has the properties of tung oil but a different odor ? While I have you, what would you say gives tung oil its envied reputation ?

Danish-trained woodworker Tage Frid taught us to use a mixture of linseed oil and shellac. First and second coat was raw linseed oil and shellac -- to penetrate -- and finish was boiled oil and shellac -- for more of a surface. I suppose I did it a few times -- haven't tried it in 50 years. Maybe it's time to have another go ?

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Postby Panton-ite » Fri Dec 14, 2012 6:25 pm

SDR,
My dad is old school and makes a lot of his own finish concoctions. I'll have to ask him what it is in the tung oil that works so well. I do believe he uses the linseed oil and shellac combo a good bit.

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Postby egads » Fri Dec 14, 2012 7:34 pm

I have used a waterborne varnish from Target Coatings called EM2000. I goes on like water based poly, but leaves a finish like old fashion oil base products. It ambers more over time. I used it on all my new kitchen cabinets. It is holding up well so far (been about 6 months) I brushed it on and it looks like I sprayed it. It dries fast, can be recoated in 2 hours. No need to sand between coats except to remove nibs and imperfections. You can use it over old finishes as long as they are old. They recommend waiting at least a week if going over a oil based stain for instance. The other thing I learned from posts on their website is to use denatured alcohol to wipe up before finishing. You can even mix it with water (distilled) and it makes the water dry faster. I did a couple of watered down coats to start and then did at least another 4 full strength. Just remember to stir up the flattening agents from the bottom of the can. All varnishes and polys are shinny and the satin ones have flattening agents mixed in. Here's a link:


http://www.targetcoatings.com/

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Postby SDR » Fri Dec 14, 2012 7:58 pm

Useful info. The alcohol part is interesting. Having brush-on finishes dry too quickly can be frustrating -- but for the early coats perhaps it's helpful ?

Where did you find the Target Coatings product ?

SDR

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Postby egads » Fri Dec 14, 2012 9:18 pm

You know, I don't remember where I heard about it. Maybe just searching online about finishes, mostly because I'm in California and many things I've used in the past are not sold here anymore. I bought the Target stuff directly from their webstore. (you can also call) The downside to that is that it tends to take a week to ship to me using ups ground (affordable) the product itself is expensive, like $22.00 @ quart. (but water based poly is $16.00 at Home Depot) There is also a similar products sold at the hobby wood working stores like Woodcraft called Oxford. Mostly these companies make water based lacquers for folks who spray. You cannot believe the results luthiers are getting using this new stuff. Being able to spay stuff that doesn't kill you or explode is a god send to the trades. But I did not want to spend to set myself up to spray. So a product that gave me the results I got with a brush (an expensive Purdy synthetic bristle mind you) and also showed the depth of old oil based poly sold me. I was doing Birch to match the original wood in my 1954 Cliff May.

By the way, the users of the Target products use a lot of de-waxed shellac made up from flakes under the top coats. It's really important that the shellac be de-waxed under water finishes. Straight Zinsser Amber Shellac is what Joe used on paneling in his house. I wanted a tougher finish for actual kitchen cabinets. I foolishly made my boxes from unfinished plywood. By the time I paid for the finish and the time to apply many coats I should have just bought
the pre-finished stuff. But that Target EM2000 held up really well with one under sink disaster. (I did use pre-finished for the drawers)

About the fast drying: They sell a retarder you can add, mostly for hot days. It dries about as fast as water based poly, so not too bad. But the drying for a recoat is what I really liked. Because many thin coats are always better that thicker ones. It also helped in moving pieces around the shop.

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Postby SDR » Fri Dec 14, 2012 9:44 pm

Hmm. Sounds like you've been the route. Shops I worked for sprayed lacquer and conversion varnish, mostly, so I got used to the look of a sprayed finish. Deft was something I could do myself with a brush. Too bad its so fragile; I'm told not to use it where surfaces get wet.

But we're on to other things, now. Thanks for the ideas. I know that tighter regs have brought forth new generations of finish materials -- and each one requires a new touch and technique, I guess. Once you find what works for you, stick with it -- until they outlaw it, anyway !

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Postby johnnyapollo » Sat Dec 15, 2012 3:46 am

I usually do a very thin coat of dewaxed shellac as a foundation coat - this can be wiped on and dries very quickly. I sometimes do an additional coat if there are any "buggers" in the finish, first sanding out the imperfections using 400 grit wet/dry paper with water). The good thing about shellac is that it doesn't raise the grain like most other water-based finishes, and it can be top-coated with any other finish (which, if you've ever tried to match a finish is a good thing). The shellac has almost no odor (the base is rubbing alcohol).

Here's a Lane table I did using shellac and lacquer:
http://modernwoodworking.blogspot.com/2 ... offee.html

For the most natural wood finishes I used Watco Oils, usually either one of the tinted or natural Danish oils or Teak oils, however I forego the shellac step. With these oils you wipe on, allow to set for about 30 minutes then wipe off the excess. Two coats and and overnight drying and you're done. These too have very little odor.

These are items done with Watco:
Before:
http://thrifting.blogspot.com/2012/11/d ... grain.html

After:
http://thrifting.blogspot.com/2012/12/d ... efurb.html

Before and After:
http://thrifting.blogspot.com/2012/10/r ... -tray.html

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Postby WiscoUsonIan » Thu Jan 03, 2013 4:23 pm

WOW, i guess i posted this in a flurry of action and then forgot about it for a while. Thanks for all the help everyone, although i'm still left somewhat confused.

I first took a trip to my local woodcraft to get some thoughts. He asked if i knew what the finish was that is on it now....and I forgot that I had an original specifications of construction booklet with my house plans. After pulling that out, sure enough there is specifications about what was intended to be used as an interior finish.

My book says:
Purlins and wood ceilings shall be stained to match each other and plywood, and shall receive two coats of satinlac, followed by one coat of quality paste wax (Johnson or equal) and buff to finish. All other interior wood surface shall be given two coats of satinlac followed by one coat of paste wax buffed to finish. Exposed parts of kitchen cabinets, dining table top, tops of cabinets in living areas shall be filled with approved transparent colorless filler and shall be given two coats of waterproof "bakelite-base" bar top varnish. Rub lightly with steel wool between coats and after last coat rub with fine pumice to dull gloss."

So i tried to so some searching on "satinlac" but nothing comes up that i can find. I'm guessing that whats really on the interior items is a shellac of some type? If this is true, can i check for this somehow? Should i be replacing the finish with the same?
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Postby johnnyapollo » Fri Jan 04, 2013 3:28 am

It appears to be a thin coat of dewaxed shellac (I'm thinking a wipe-on finish as the term "satin" indicates it's not high-gloss - the more you thin the less glossy as there is less actual shellac applied to the substrate).

Regarding Satinlac - found this ad from a 1958 Popular Science Magazine:

http://books.google.com/books?id=ZC0DAA ... ac&f=false

You can test if it's a shellac - alcohol is used as a thinner, which means regular mineral spirits will have little affect on the finish, but will clean off the wax (something you'll want to do - actually the first step I do with any furniture is to wipe everything down with mineral spirits as this tends to remove all the accumulated grime of years of handling). Find an inconspicuous spot and rub a small patch using a rag dipped in mineral spirits. If that only cleans the finish then it's shellac. If the finish comes off on the rag then it's a varnish.

To take things one step further, you can repeat with a bit of lacquer thinner. It should only clean off the wax if it's shellac, but will take off both varnish and/or lacquer if the latter - this is to determine if the finish is lacquer.

Finally, remove the wax using mineral spirits on a small spot, then wipe on some rubbing alcohol and see if some finish comes off on the rag - that's to confirm it's shellac - this last step may or may not work as often shellac has bonded too much to the substrate to come off (soaking will remove some but at that point it's easier to just sand it off rather than using chemicals).

If the water staining is bad, you may want to take things all the way down to wood via sanding, then build back up: stain, shellac, with wax as the final.

If the staining is minimal you may want to first see of oxalic acid will remove the staining. To see if this will work without committing to a whole tub or box of the stuff (the latter you mix with water), Bar Keepers Friend is mostly made of the stuff. You can mix a bit with water into a paste then apply just to the stained areas to see if it will bleach out the stains - this usually only works if the staining is mineralized (usually dark but sometimes lighter than the woodstain finish) - it's bascially a wood bleach that doesn't destroy the fibers like real household bleach (to be avoided on real wood). Leave it one for 30 minutes to an hour, maybe longer if it seems to be working - check it every hour or so. Make sure you neutralize after you're done using water or it can be a problem when you reapply a finish. This is an acid (though it's mild) so wear protection: gloves, mask and especially glasses since it's overhead.

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WiscoUsonIan
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Postby WiscoUsonIan » Mon Jan 07, 2013 7:40 am

Test results:

Mineral Spirits: no effect, seemed to slick surface until dry.

Denatured alcohol: Seemed to have little effect although seems to have dulled the surface a little.

Rubbing alcohol, looks like it defiantly removed the surface, leaving a dull and lighter colored spot behind.


So it does look in fact that it's a shellac. The paneling seems to have raised grain and or alligatored feel to it. Whats my steps to repair and replace the finish now? It seems i'll need to try and fix the staining, and put a new coat of shellac on it after it's been cleaned.
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Postby WiscoUsonIan » Tue Jan 29, 2013 2:26 pm

this was already posted on savewright, but i thought i'd also post progress and info here in case this was found at a later date.

--------------------------

so it's been forever, But I thought that it was time for a little update. Thought i'd share some images, hope you enjoy.

I've been working on refinishing the wood, starting in the guest room. Ive setup the guest room as a temporary workshop for the time being.
Image

I'm nearly complete with the guest room, besides the beams and ceiling. I'm planning on leaving the ceiling as it, but fixing a few small areas.

With the help of the house plans, and the contractor bid document, I was able to determine what finish was used to begin with. I've then gone ahead and sanded and re shellacked all the vertical surfaces. I still need to apply some wax to bring down the gloss a little. The counter pieces have been treated with a sand and poly to help with water from glasses, plants, etc..

Overall i'm very happy with how things are coming. Here are a few images of how it's going.

Removed the door, here it is with one coat:
Image

Cabinet Doors:
Image

Other Images:
Image
Image
Image

How the window sill rail looked before and during:
Image
Image

I also replaced the fluorescent light that hung past the rail bottom, with a more subtle accent light that runs the whole length of the rail.
how it was before:
Image

and After:
Image


The plan now is to use the guest room for a winter workshop. Next up is ALL the cabinet doors (39 not counting the kitchen), Then i'll start moving room by room working my way through all the wood (and trying to minimize the dust). Hopefully this will not take eternity, although i know it's a long road to go.
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johnnyapollo
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Postby johnnyapollo » Wed Jan 30, 2013 3:53 am

Easy to bring down the gloss using 4# steel wool (until you get the satin you're looking for), then applying the wax but not buffing it to a high sheen. Otherwise wax alone won't dull the finish much once it's wiped.
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Postby robbhouston » Wed Jan 30, 2013 3:12 pm

WiscoUsonIan: Your woodwork is looking awesome! I can relate to the shellacking factor. I was a shellacking fool when we did our reno a few years ago. I found Bullseye Amber a close match to our aging shellacked woodwork. Our house was built with a real mix of wood surfaces... birch, pine, etc. We re-did all our built-in cabinetry doors in maple. The new valances are pine. We also replaced a few broken interior birch hollow-core slab doors with luan finished doors, as well as a couple of full length glass doors framed in pine. The amber shellack really helped pull everything together color wise. Not a perfect match across the board. But then again, it wasn't to begin with....

http://0044f49.netsolhost.com/nashville ... during.jpg
http://0044f49.netsolhost.com/nashville ... during.jpg
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http://0044f49.netsolhost.com/nashville ... during.jpg
http://0044f49.netsolhost.com/nashville ... during.jpg
http://0044f49.netsolhost.com/nashville ... during.jpg
http://0044f49.netsolhost.com/nashville ... during.jpg
http://0044f49.netsolhost.com/nashville ... during.jpg
http://0044f49.netsolhost.com/nashville ... during.jpg
http://0044f49.netsolhost.com/nashville ... during.jpg

I love your house and enjoy your posts!

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Postby WiscoUsonIan » Mon Feb 04, 2013 6:47 am

Thanks Robb.... I love that you have pieces drying all over your house... Thats kind of how things go though, Use all your available space.
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Postby bamalama » Wed Feb 06, 2013 2:42 pm

Looks lovely, very inspiring! I appreciate being able to see the before and after pics, espcially as I gear up to tackle our painted-over paneling.

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Postby stephensonjim » Mon Jan 19, 2015 11:01 pm

hi
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