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Thread: Possible to restore veneer table top???

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Frederick, CO - N. Denver
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    278

    Possible to restore veneer table top???

    So we have a rather large round breakfast table that is starting to show some ugly wear in the veneer in places, nothing totally destroyed by no means, essentially the finish is worn through and some scratches into the veneer in places.

    My first thought was to simply do a very light sand across the entire table and probably finish with clear shellac.

    Does this at all make sense or should I not even attempt it?

    Anyone done anything similiar?

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Question #1: How thick is the veneer? If this is one of those table tops with veneer the thickness of a whisper, I'd be very careful. But if it is a good quality piece with a "full thickness" veneer, there is no reason you could not refinish it.
    David DeCristoforo

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by travis howe View Post
    ....." My first thought was to simply do a very light sand across the entire table and probably finish with clear shellac.

    Does this at all make sense or should I not even attempt it?

    Anyone done anything similiar?

    Thanks!
    Use stripper followed by a light sanding or you might come through the verneer. I would never use shellac to finish any table or anything else for that matter. It is not very water resistant - it will spot, not very heat resistant, nor alcohol resistant, nor mar resistant. Catalized Lacquer or conversion varnish would be your best bet.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    somerset, ca.
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    152
    how old is the table? the older the table, the thicker the veneer. thats what i have seen. if the scratches are deep enough to expose the next layer, then think of an inlay. think of something that has a story behind it. [old wooden spoon gramma used to smack you with when you were little etc..] it could be wood or something else. if you are going to strip the finish off anyway to refinish, just clamp a fence to the table and use a router to cut the inlay. now you have a nice looking table with a story.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    Southport, NC
    Posts
    2,946
    Couple of points not already made.

    If it's an everyday breakfast table, shellac is probably not an appropriate finish. Shellac is easily damaged by being abraded and cleaning with every day, supermarket cleaning chemicals will quickly damage the finish.

    For an everyday table, there are few finishes better than a good non-poly varnish like Waterlox Original or Behlen's Rockhard (if the table is dark wood). For lighter woods, varnishes like Pratt & Lambert #38, Sherwin Williams Varnish or Cabots 800x would be best. You could also use a poly varnish but the non-poly makes for a clearer finish.

    Second, has the tabletop every been "polished" using a supermarket product like Pledge? If so, you will have to deal with a silicone contamination. This requires a multi-step process. If you suspect this type of problem, get back a I can go through the process for you.
    Howie.........

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Location
    SF Bay Area, CA
    Posts
    13,006
    Pictures always help in these situations...in fact, in MOST situations!
    Crown Molding: cut, cope, cuss, caulk, chill....

    Did you know SMC is user supported? Please help.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Smokey Mountains
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    128
    OK, my 2 cents worth time...
    If the finish has just worn through complete recently, I doubt that the veneer has worn significantly. When you run your hand over the top, can you only feel where the finish has worn? Is is reletivly flat, except for the scratchs?

    IF so, best bet is to strip the top completely. Sand off the stubborn left over spots of finish. Now, depending on the depth of the scratch (and width) I'd get some clean laquer and fill the scratches. Let it thoroughly dry, then take small plane or scraper and CAREFULLY level the laquer to the table top. sand appropriatly. Clean the tabletop and make sure it's free of dust and smooth to the touch.

    I ALWAYS put a barrier coat of shellac down. Good old fashion shellac. It stick to everything (well, almost) and with an older table will protect you finish all the stuff that has soaked into the wood over the years. Let dry for 24 hours and then sand lightly with 400 grit.

    Now, IMHO, you should use a water based finish. Minwax Polyurethane finish can be bought at the big box stores, and is just fine for what you are doing. The DOWN SIDE of a water based finish is that is take about 4 weeks to fully cure. You can uses the table after a couple days, but patience pays off. YOu can pad or spray the finish, just make sure you strain it through a filter and use DI water to dilute it. Let is complete dry after applying and you can do multiple coats. You MUST sand the finish between coats. WBF cure physically to a surface, not chemically burning it. Plus WBF are much better on you lungs and

    After it's all said and done, buff to your satisfaction.

    I know this is "Readers Digest" condenced, but I hope it helps. PM me if you have any questions.

    Dell

  8. #8
    Hi Travis
    Seems like I've had a run lately on refinishing veneer top tables so here is what I do. On older tables with thicker veneers ,I strip the old finish by hand sanding with 80or 100 grit which takes care of the scratches ,followed by 150,220 and 320 grits. I then apply my stain and let set over night. I then buff it out with a clean rag and apply the first coat of satin wipe on poly and wipe off completely. Allow to dry before applying the next coat of wipe on poly with a clean rag. Let set overnight then sand lightly with 320 grit to remove any rough spots.Clean with a tack cloth and using the same procedure apply 2 more coats of poly for a smooth durable finish.

    Before finishing


    After finishing
    Mike
    midlothianwoodworks
    ---------------------
    Why buy it if you can build it

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Location
    SF Bay Area, CA
    Posts
    13,006
    Nice job, Mike! I keep looking carefully for the big ol' nasty black ring...can't find it!
    Crown Molding: cut, cope, cuss, caulk, chill....

    Did you know SMC is user supported? Please help.

  10. #10
    Thanks Chris-- that big ugly ring was a challenge but after I sanded the finish off, I used bleach on the ring then used the edge of my pocket knife to scrape it out . Customer tipped me extra for that.
    Mike
    midlothianwoodworks
    ---------------------
    Why buy it if you can build it

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