Cleaning stripped antique wood furniture?
April 21, 2017 12:37 PM   Subscribe

I was given an antique buffet table that has been stripped (mostly) and let sit in the garage for a few years. How do I clean & refinish it??

I asked for advice on this very same table last summer, but have only just now gotten my hands on it. I got some good advice on it then, but I'm hoping you can help me with the nuts and bolts now! Here is the table. (Ignore that one of the doors is flipped upside down, they were just propped in for the picture)

My parents sent the doors out to be dipped to have all the varnish and stain removed, so they are bone dry and a little rough. The body and outside of the drawers have been hand stripped... mostly. There's still some spots on the legs that my dad never got around to doing.

I'd like to spend the weekend cleaning and stripping off the last of the old finish. It's filthy from hanging out in the garage for a few years. But since it's been stripped I don't want to do anything that will raise the grain. Is there a good method to actually scrub it down?

And with the doors, is there a way to sand them lightly with all those carvings on them that won't drive me completely insane?
posted by Caravantea to Home & Garden (2 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
For the doors you could try a scotch brite pad. They vary in coarseness and might give you the "squish" you need to get more into the nooks...but ultimately they aren't sandpaper. But just to smooth the raised grain they might work. Use the finest grade that actually or burgundy perhaps.
For remaining finish, short of using stripper which is brutally toxic, there are cabinet scrapers that you can use to scrape off surface finishes like laquer. There's a bit of a skill to it and they don't usually come pre-honed, but a tool shop might be able to help you out.
As for just cleaning it - what kind of dirty is it? An oil based wood cleaner could work. If you do user water and the grain is raised, you can lightly scuff with 220g sandpaper to knock it back again once it dries.
posted by elke_wood at 1:14 PM on April 21, 2017

For cleaning, I would suggest wiping with paint thinner (mineral spirits). This will remove dirt and wax without raising the grain.
It looks like the piece was originally stained. The doors have been stripped of all finish and stain. The problem now will be how to finish it so it looks uniform. Do you sand the rest of the unit down to bare wood? That's a lot of work. Staining the doors so they match the rest of the piece will be difficult but may be possible.
Stain everything very dark? That would work but it would obscure the nice quartersawn oak rays.
If it's in the budget you might talk to a professional refinisher for some better ideas.
posted by H21 at 3:33 PM on April 21, 2017

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