I seek an oxymoron
February 11, 2020 4:29 PM   Subscribe

I recently had a teak dining room table and chairs refinished. The result, for the table at least, was....disappointing.

Both the finish and color of the top are uneven. I am reluctant to have it redone, because each new treatment will take away more wood than I care to lose (the set is forty years old). Is it possible to find a furniture polish which contains an abrasive, so that, with time, things will even out somewhat, and I will be left with a table top that merely looks gently aged? I have the time and I am happy enough if the finish is satin, rather than high gloss, since the nature of the wood will then become more evident. Googling seems to indicate that I can have one or the other: either an abrasive which will take the surface back to the wood, or a wax polish which will just make things shinier, neither of which outcome is desirable. Has anyone a solution?
posted by alonsoquijano to Home & Garden (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I restore furniture so I am drawn to this question, but I don't completely understand. Can you take a picture of the table top and link to it?

Do you know what the table was finished with? An oil-based finish would be typical, but this sounds like something atypical.
posted by Glomar response at 4:38 PM on February 11 [4 favorites]

I'm not good at this, but the image should be here. I have no idea as to the finish
posted by alonsoquijano at 7:26 PM on February 11

To take the gloss off a finish people often use steel wool.

First test it on a small, out of sight part of the table. Try 0000 steel wool and rub in a random circles. This should only affect the gloss and not the uneven color. Try to not rub off the finish, just scuff it up.

There are other options. Ex. another layer of compatible finish+pigment can go over the existing layer. This is called toning. I don't really think you want to get into this.
posted by bdc34 at 6:11 AM on February 12

The colour differences on that table top look to me like natural patterns of variation in the colour of the wood. I'm less experienced with teak, but I've refinished a bunch of iroko ("poor man's teak"), and got similar looking results. To me it looks good!

The previous finish plus 40 years of embedded grime "patina" may just have been concealing all that.

What's your end goal? If you want it all to look the same colour you can bury it all in more layers of tinted varnish I guess. But abrading the new finish is not going to make the variation go away.
posted by automatronic at 3:27 PM on February 12 [1 favorite]

Thanks all for your views. I had hoped that, in the years since I've done this, there might be some magic potion on the market which would do the job, but it looks as if I have to revert to the traditional methods of repair. Much appreciated all the same.
posted by alonsoquijano at 2:14 PM on February 13

Sorry that we are short on magic potions! There are specific situations when the stars align, but this likely is not one.
I just got done quoting a job comparable to this, where I am to correct a finishing job that left a piece worse off than before. I am full of dread, knowing how much hurt has been felt before I arrived on the scene.
posted by Glomar response at 5:58 PM on February 18

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