Friday, June 30, 2017

Refinishing Heirloom Furniture - Part 3 Staining and Varnishing

Check out my blog for the past two days for part one and two of how to glue down veneer and how to mix filler and stain to fill holes and scratches.

When your project is to this point, you need to do a final sand. This project is a little bit different than others in that we didn't need to refinish most of the table. I will explain the way to do each type so if you only need to refinish part of the project, you can read about that.

Sand the entire project and when it is smooth, make sure you use a very fine sandpaper which will make the surface smooth.

There are finishing sanders in shapes that help get to corners so if you have lots of carving or corners, then you may want to purchase one of those.

You need to choose what color of stain you want to use. If you are just picking one for something completely stripped, it really doesn't matter what you use. However, if you are restoring it to period or original, you may want to use the same color stain it was when it was made.

If you aren't refinishing the entire project, you will want to match the stain to the rest of the piece so there isn't any color differences. To do this, you need to get a stain matching pamphlet or you can take a piece of the project to the store if there is a small knob or something you can take to match stain.

In this radio table, the sun or time had lightened the stain at the top side and it was still dark on the bottom so we ended up using two different stain colors on the project. You may run into that situation depending on if the item was ever in a sunny place.

We ended up using "Early American" on the area just under the top all the way down 2/3 of the legs. We used the "Red Mahogany" on the top and the bottom of the legs. It ended up matching the existing stain very well. You can't really tell that we re-stained over the existing so it worked out well.

For items that are being fully stained, you start with a brush or some cotton cloth. Open the stain and stir it lifting the color from the bottom and mixing it with the oils at the top. Then, you can apply it to a CLEAN project. After sanding, make sure you wipe it down with a damp cloth to get all the sanding dust off. Allow it to dry and then you can apply the stain. Some people just pour it on and swirl it around. I like going section by section and going with the grain to get even coverage.

Since this radio table is Princess Five's inheritance from my mother and before that, my grandmother, I thought it would be good for her to have a chance to help refinish it and learn that skill as well as make it more "hers" now. You may want to wear gloves and "paint clothes" in order to keep from getting stained fingers or hands.

If your project had stain on it before, you want to make sure you get all of it off before staining it if it is light as the darker stain may show through if you only sand part of it. You can always go darker but a dark walnut stain will show through unless you go black so if your stain is in the wood veneer and you can't sand it out, you will have to stick with the same stain for the project to look good.

Once the project has a coat of stain, I let it dry and it really doesn't take long. I then reapply a second coat and then wait about ten minutes and any wetness still left on the project, I wipe off with a clean cloth. Usually, I just use an old t-shirt for these type of projects.

Stain and varnish can cause fires if the rags are left out. ALWAYS clean up after using stains and varnish. Do the project, throw away any rags used outside in a garbage can away from the house in case the rags ignite in the can.

We actually had a business in town burn down because they left their staining rags on the counter to reuse the next day. It is better to be safe than sorry with these type of things. Rags are cheap and it isn't worth risking your families life over a simple solution.

If you aren't doing the entire project and just have some scratches in an area of the project, match the stain as well as you can and then wipe the stain over the scratches and let it sit for about 10 minutes. Then, take a clean cloth and wipe the stain off the area as it will make the entire project sticky if you leave it on without wiping it off as the stain will react with the varnish still on the item.

Once the item is dry, you can varnish it. There are gloss, semi-gloss, and satin. I like the semi-gloss finish as the high gloss is super shiny. I did that on my table tops as I wanted them shiny but for the most part, I go semi-gloss. This is usually brushed on and then left to dry for 2-24 hours. Once dry, sand with 220 grit sand paper or 000 steel wool and wipe with a damp cloth and recoat with the varnish to give a good finish to the item. Let it dry and you are good do go!

I am so happy with how the table turned out. Princess also was happy with her new heirloom. I framed a picture I found in our family history where my mother was sitting next to this table where her father was holding the other kids on his lap reading to them for a publicity picture. The picture was in the newspaper on Thanksgiving 1948!

No one in my family had any knowledge that this table was my grandmothers. I was looking through pictures for a blog or something and since the table was in my front room from my mothers estate at the time, I recognized the bottom decorative carving on the table and flipped back to this picture and then later on recognized it in the news article so we printed up the article and the news photo in a cute matching frame for her to put on the table! We also think we will put a Bluetooth speaker in the bottom of the table for Princess Five to use. Won't it be such a fun accent to a room!

Have a Blessed Day!

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