Couple questions about a buffet (pic)

lydia1959August 30, 2010

I bought this buffet on Craigslist for $50. I had intended to try and refinish it, but once I saw it in real life.. I decided I should paint it black. I know how most of you hate painting antique furniture but it has a lot of damage I wasn't expecting.

This tag is in the top drawer. From research I believe this was made between 1905 and 1920. Does that seem right? The drawers are dovetailed.

Also do you think using one of the paint on primers where you don't have to sand will work on this? I believe this is veneered. I will sand the roughest areas. I do plan on reusing all of the drawer pulls. TIA

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Rather than painting it, you might consider using a stain/sealer all-in-one product in black. I have a decorator friend who has used this on clients' not very pretty existing wood furniture when they want a fresh look but are budget challenged. The grain shows through slightly and it looks a richer than plain black paint. All you would need to do is probably use fine steel wool over the whole piece. Wipe it down with a tack cloth and apply the stain/sealer. I pretty sure she uses Minwax.

Here is a link that might be useful: Stain/sealer colors.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2010 at 5:51PM
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Its georgous. Don't paint it. If it has a few nicks in the finish, hide these with a color stick and lightly clean the surface. A good furniture wax might help.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2010 at 8:26PM
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If you paint it, it will look like a Craig's List 1930's buffet that you painted black. If that's the look you want....go for it. But know you will have cut any possible resale value in more than half.
Linda C

    Bookmark   August 30, 2010 at 9:06PM
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I wasn't going to comment on the wisdom of painting it...

    Bookmark   August 30, 2010 at 11:46PM
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You are making me rethink my idea to paint it... but what you can't see in the photo are some deep gouges where someone has used a screwdriver to open the doors on it, there are some bad areas on the top and general scrapes and nicks along the edges. I'm not a experienced re-finisher and am very nervous about the prospect of possibly trying to refinish this piece. One of the knobs is missing too, but I have found a close replacement.

I would think for it to be somewhat valuable I'd have to pay a restorer to fix and refinish it for me. Could it ever be worth very much with gouges and deep scrapes not repaired?

    Bookmark   August 31, 2010 at 12:02AM
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Worth more with the gouges than painted.
General scrapes and nicks can be hidden with some stain and a bit of finish. Gouges, depending on how deep, can be fixed with a shellac stick....and remember, if you wanted new you wouldn't have looked for an old piece.
It's really very nice....
Linda c

    Bookmark   August 31, 2010 at 12:09AM
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Some gouges, if the wood isn't ripped, can be raised with an eye dropper of water carefully placed in the just the depression. Place a towel over the ding and use a slightly warm-not hot-iron over the towel. It will raise the gouge. Even if ripped slighty, making the wood swell helps.

    Bookmark   August 31, 2010 at 12:15AM
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I have used Old English scrachcover for dark wood on most of my old furiture. I love the stuff.

    Bookmark   August 31, 2010 at 7:15AM
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Could it ever be worth very much with gouges and deep scrapes not repaired?

If you can live with it not being 'perfect' but presentable it might be worth something to the next person down the line who would spend the time or money to refinish it correctly. I feel about old furniture like I feel about old houses. I'd much rather tackle something in its original needy state than undo a bad fix. If I like a piece enough, and it needs redone, I'll do it. If it's been cobbled up with paint, I have to think about it long and hard and I'll only offer a token because it's going to be a harder job. If it's paint over veneered surfaces, I usually just walk away.

    Bookmark   August 31, 2010 at 9:50PM
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I am not sure the original finish is as important on a piece of furniture such as this...that seems to be more true on bench made furniture from the 18th to last quarter maybe of 19th, and Arts and Crafts furniture from the 19th-20th. (Even though this was somewhat mass produced, the finish is still important)

This is a piece of non-quite-antique manufactured furniture. Not all furniture is reduced in value by refinishing it. Art Deco furniture, which looks lousy unless it has a pristine finish, is routinely refinished.

I probably would not paint this piece either, but I would refinish it without thinking twice about it.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2010 at 8:50AM
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And I sure agree on that. The OP is reluctant to do a refinish, however. That's why I was suggesting that if he/she can't live with it like it is, refinish it like it should be, then at least preserve what value it does have by not painting it and do just a little damage control with touch-ups. I have refinished a few very early 20th century pieces and have no regrets or fears about loss in value.

This one is 'not quite' antique but is going to reach that stage when it's still in the OP's possession, most likely. Nice design and was a better manufactured piece in its hayday.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2010 at 12:05PM
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I agree that the original finish is not important on a 1930's piece....but the lack of paint is....and frankly I think it looks silly when I see pieces that so obviously shout 1935 to be sporting paint. Sort of like when a woman with very dark hair and olive skin decides to dye her hair golden blond....just always looks wrong.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2010 at 1:28PM
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Please don't paint this piece .Refinishing it will not be a simple weekend project for ya ,but you'll be happy you did it when you're done.
Under that aged finish on the drawer faces is beautiful burled walnut veneers . I can't tell from the picture , but most likely the top and sides are a straight cut Walnut veneer.
I MIGHT even have the missing piece of hardware in one of my leftover hardware boxes. I'd gladly send it to you . I'd need a close up shot to be sure.
email me and I'd be happy to walk you through the refinishing process.

    Bookmark   September 2, 2010 at 2:05AM
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I'm not quite sure why you'd be afraid to try refinishing but feel that painting would be easier. I think painting can be badly done much more readily than stripping can be badly done. With a stripper like EZWay, that needs no water clean-up, stripping is not difficult (stinky, but not difficult, so do it outdoors), and the refinishing need not be complicated.

But I also agree there isn't anything wrong with painted furniture. I love wood furniture, but it is hard to decorate around sometimes, hard to match pieces (though it's not something I care about), and just a bit boring at times. This is a cool piece but it's not frighteningly valuable no matter how it's finished.

I would just say, figure out which finish you want and then DO IT WELL. Don't paint to avoid having to do a proper job, because while I don't mind a painted antique, a badly painted antique is just really depressing.

Plus, I think I'd paint it white or cream, not black. Although my current thing I want to try is one of the white stains.


    Bookmark   September 2, 2010 at 9:46PM
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I bought some "Howards restore a finish" yesterday and am going to try that instead of painting. I read a lot of good reviews about it online. If it turns out bad I will not have invested a great deal of time in it and can go the stripping/refinishing route or paint it.

I do love painted furniture, I have several vintage pieces painted white, a headboard, a buffet and china cabinet (all except the headboard were painted when I bought them). If I were moving to a smaller place.. those would be the first pieces of furniture I'd take. I don't know why the painted stuff appeals to me more than stained furniture... but this time I am going with your suggestions to forgo painting the buffet.

I'll come back and let you all know how it turns out.

Thanks Stocky for the offer of hardware, but I won a auction yesterday on ebay for a couple pulls that I think will work.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2010 at 4:55PM
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Howards Restore a finish is a load of crap ... no offense to Mr. Howard :)
You don't want to restore that finish on there , you need to remove it .
Look for something in Loew's , Home Depot or your local Hardware Store called 5F5 or a similar product .
Gloves ,mask , a few tin cans , couple of cheap 99 cent brushes , steel wool, paint thinner and some old newspaper will get ya started. Be sure to put down a drop cloth in the garage or outside , whereever your going to do the work.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2010 at 5:51PM
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My friend painted her buffet a rose pink and the inside drawers lavender. It was the talk of the town and a big hit. Do what you want to the thing. Be creative! You don't need to be a purist and I'm sure the credenza won't mind!

    Bookmark   September 5, 2010 at 2:18AM
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