Restore a Finish Restora my table!

cooperbaileyApril 1, 2008

Wow! Thanks to whoever posted about Restore a Finish. (nope, don't work there, can't make me)

After tentatively trying it out on an antique wooden tray, I went for it with abandon Sunday on my dining room table. It is a mahogany Duncan Phfye dining set that we bought a couple of years ago on Craigslist. The top was lovely then. Enter my DH working from home one day and a cup of coffee. boo hoo.I have had it covered with a pad and table cloth ever since. But have been admiring the bare nekkid wood tables in y'alls dining room pics.

The restore a finish took off the white ring!And the feed and wax gave it a soft sheen. Woo hoo! I have replaced the fabric of the dining room chairs and I will gently go over the wood of them as well. I bought a can in the maple for our found kitchen chairs. I think I will use a lot of this stuff on many of our pieces..... Better buy stock!! LOL Sue

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That's nice to hear! I should buy stock I've got enough cans of the stuff laying around ;)

Oh...speaking of feed n wax, it's that time of year again. My shoulders hurt just thinking about waxing all that furniture!

    Bookmark   April 1, 2008 at 2:26PM
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tell me more, please??

will Restore a Finish remove alligatored finish??

I've been told the best thing to use is Danish Oil and fine steel wool and lots and lots of patience...

but if this stuff works...



    Bookmark   April 1, 2008 at 3:27PM
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Oh! Oh! Oh! I need that stuff! I have a very old table and the finish has three white marks where I put hot things on it! Would you believe I had the tablecloth on it but FORGOT the pads? What a dunce.

Where can I get this magic elixer?????


    Bookmark   April 1, 2008 at 4:07PM
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I bought the restore a finish at Lowes, it comes in mahogany/walnut, maple/pine and oak. You need to buy the one closest to your wood color. I bought mahogany and then maple for kitchen chairs.HD has it too. Ace Hardware had the biggest selection of all the stores. Buy the feed and wax too to finish it off. You dont use much so it lasts a long time. and is worth it.
I think I would try this and steel wool for the alligatoring.
If you plan on finishing with polyurethane,you cant use this product/cause it is not compatible.

One area still has some very slight hazing but where I rubbed harder on the white ring, the finish is smoother and clearer, I will do more on it later. You have too look hard to see it.
I love the stuff. Its great if you dont want to strip down to nekkid wood and start over.Until I heard of this I thought that is what we would need to do with the table, then the legs wouldnt match the top and the legs are sooo time consuming.So this took an hour or two I guess, not hard at all. I have arthritis in my hands and spine and I was able to do it.
It is NOT at all like scratch cover btw. nothing rubs off once you wipe it well and then wax it.
For the white rings or heavier scratches,use it with 000 steel wool and rub with the grain. Repeat after me RUB WITH THE GRAIN- other wise you will see marks.
For the rest of the surface you can just rub with the grain with a dry cloth. It cleans off all of the build up from the finish.Follow the directions carefully- especially ventilation. wear gloves.
Iam at work late tonight:( for a meeting - am running it so can't skip out so I will try to post pics of table later, I dont have before pics but the finish looks so nice and no rings. It was instant gratification! If it doesn't move I am watch out Sue

    Bookmark   April 1, 2008 at 5:53PM
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I'm too lazy to retype the method I always use, but if you scroll down this post you'll see it w/photos. Or redbazel put them in her "clippings" section (some I typed a long time ago). Might have to search her ID and get it that way?

I don't know about the alligatored finish. I've used it on lots of pieces but only those that don't warrant a full strip/refinish. Not costly to try it and see (my best color choices are at Sears Hardware, about $7 /can for large, there's a smaller size too). If it didn't turn out to your satisfaction, then you could do a strip/refinish (I find that fun, some people hate it tho ;)

    Bookmark   April 1, 2008 at 6:47PM
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Moon is right. I clipped it. Actually, I had saved her instructions in one of my email folders and was so excited to find it again last year when I needed to clean up and get rid of the blackened areas on the sideboard I bought from Ebay. The stuff stinks, so use ventilation. But it works. It does. It's great.


Here is a link that might be useful: RAF

    Bookmark   April 1, 2008 at 11:36PM
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I have been reading this thread with interest because I would like to try it on my table and chairs as well. Two questions:

o one person says to stay away from Murphy's, and another says to use it twice in the process... does that depend on whether you have wax or poly?? or, is it really a personal choice?

o how do I know if my table has been waxxed or poly'd

I am a novice, and have only painted wood, never restored or refinished it, so I appreciate your help.

here is my table:

    Bookmark   April 3, 2008 at 8:09AM
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norasnews: Best way to explain it is to link you to this article (specific info about MOSoap and why not to use it toward the bottom). One of our rental properties has hardwood floors and I had to specifically put in the new lease not to use Murphy's or similar cleaners because the surface was a gummy mess to clean after prior tenant used it for years. I actually had to use an electric floor scrubber and immediately suck the dirty gunk up with a shop vac. It was gross :/

Here's one more addressing cabinets, furniture, etc.

However, you will also find those who encourage it's use, even for fine antique wood. My personal preference is to skip the oil soap on wood, especially after that floor clean up nightmare. There are plenty of other alternatives on the market. (Not slamming Murphy's either, I use it all the time on the leather interiors of the vehicles, etc.)

    Bookmark   April 3, 2008 at 9:59AM
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Does it come in oak? Maybe I can try it for my tired oak vanities.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2008 at 12:40PM
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Yup it comes in oak, mahogany, maple/pine and walnut. And I don't use Murphys on anything. BTW once you use it on polyurethaned floors- they can't just be recoated with poly..Sorry Ms. Murphy lol. I started with the restor a finish as I wanted something to take off the white ring.I will be doing more furniture this weekend! My new version of spring cleaning!!Sue

    Bookmark   April 3, 2008 at 1:10PM
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Do I need to know if I have a poly on the table.. vs wax? or do I just go for it??? not sure if the top coat makes a difference for rstora finish!

    Bookmark   April 3, 2008 at 3:43PM
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hmm, I think the label talks about that, but I am at work( not working obviously)so you want to check the label. I think it may be that you can't put a poly finish on top. But again just read the label before you buy it.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2008 at 4:33PM
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I'm curious about something. Could I use Restore a Finish to darken my kitchen cabinets? I've been thinking about trying the gel stain and just wondered if this is another alternative.


    Bookmark   April 3, 2008 at 9:47PM
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What about on an antique where the finish is actually checkered-crazed in places (like all over the front)? What would you use?

    Bookmark   April 3, 2008 at 10:46PM
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ooh, can't wait to hear what is recommended for that piece!

I am stil torn between restorafinish and gel stain myself...

    Bookmark   April 4, 2008 at 12:25AM
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oceanna--that's how my chairs look--I've heard it called alligatoring--is your's rough, like alligator scales?? btw, pretty piece!

I'm thinking of trying the Restora finish and if that doesn't work, moving on to Danish oil which I have heard from a antique restorer is the way to go. The process with Danish oil sounds similiar to what moonsahdow did (and red clipped--thanks!), except you can finish with more coats of Danish oil instead of moving to the wax.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2008 at 8:42AM
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Restora a finish and gel stain are 2 different animals with 2 distinct purposes. And remember it is recommended that you finish cabs with a poly finish and restora finish is incompatible with poly. I would not try to darken cabinets with this product. How about regular wood stain to darken the wood? The read the gelstain can to if the gel stain can go over the wood stain.

It can't hurt to try the RAF with the steel wool on the alligatoring.It may improve it enough so that you dont mind it- it will certainly clean the finish really well. You could probably try a step up or two of the coarseness of steel wool on an **Inconspicuos** spot. And then work back down to your 000. Remember to rub with the grain and carefully follow directions.
I have never used the danish oil so I don't know what that is supposed to do, I thought it was like a tung oil? but in any case if that doesnt work- You will need to go the strip route. I am stripping a hutch so I can prime and paint it for my kitchen. I hate stripping. Well, kinda ;)
BTW lovely piece!!

    Bookmark   April 4, 2008 at 9:59AM
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I love Restore A Finish also! However, I am concerned how to dispose of the rags I use. I posted here awhile back and one person said they lay them outside to dry and then toss them. How do you dispose of your rags? I would definitely recommend trying it before stripping.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2008 at 11:33AM
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oceanna: If that piece were mine, and I was willing to do a strip/refinish if nothing else worked, I'd start with RAF and Super Fine steel wool. (You'll need the steel wool to work on the goobered up existing finish.) You can apply a little more pressure with the Super Fine Steel Wool and still get results without going into the wood. I wouldn't go lower in grade to coarser steel wool because it could easily gouge the wood. (BTDT) Then you'll have that issue to contend with. (SWool will act like sandpaper, coarser grade is like very rough sandpaper, used in stripping.) Try in an inconspicuous part, perhaps rear, or rear bottom? Never go in circles or against the grain. When using any product (sandpaper, steel wool, stain, poly) always work in smooth even lines going with the grain.
Steel Wool grade info
One more, with charts and uses for SW

Before you dive in and do anything, check the Antique forum here. There's a home made formula kicking around for cleaning up very old pieces that have issues. Have not tried it myself, cannot vouch for it. It gets debated a lot, too ;) There are some excellent photos of pieces iasheff found in a shed that were in sad shape and came out beautifully! I think she used the homemade concoction, but am not positive on that.
Original Post
First Piece Done
Pie Safe Done

I prefer to be conservative with antiques if at all possible, saving a full strip/refinish when it's just beyond hope. If the RAF didn't work, you could move onto another method.

If I had the piece you have, and the RAF or home concoction didn't work, I'd do a full strip/refinish and using lots of photos as a guide, match it to the finish on there now. It really is a very pretty piece of furniture, nice lines, and what I can see of the wood on the side is beautiful!

Here's a knowledge base article on RAF and different finishes. And then a general FAQ. Here's an article about various clear coatings.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2008 at 12:21PM
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"restora finish is incompatible with poly."

I am sorry to be completely obtuse on this point.. but how do I find out if my table has poly on it before I begin the RAF process.

If they are incompatible, am I wasting my time?

I used the FOrnsby Deep Cleanser last night.. and frankly didn't notice much of any change.. does this mean I have a poly coat, and need to completely STRIP and SAND?

    Bookmark   April 4, 2008 at 1:10PM
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Not obtuse at all. It's pretty important. Sorry, I am getting behind in work taking too many breaks here ;). Rather than type I did a quick google of "determining finish on wood furniture" and this is first article of substance I came across. Skimmed it (alligator finishes addressed on second page, which I have not taken time to read).

Here's the article on determining wood finish.

Might find something in Woodworking forum here as well that's useful.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2008 at 1:31PM
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moonshadow--you're awesome!

thanks for all the links!!

cooperbailey--I've seen Danish oil "doing its stuff" and oh, my! I saw one completely gummed up nasty old table that was restored to showroom finish with just the most fabulous depth to the wood. I guess it is an agonizingly slow process, though. It sounds a lot like what the Restora Finish does, but to a greater extent.

so, I'll post back if I ever get time to try it (and our weather warms up!)

    Bookmark   April 4, 2008 at 2:22PM
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Thanks for the compliments on my piece. It's a 1917 Victrola with the original label on it, and it still works. That's the hand crank on the side.

Namabafo -- yes aligatoring would be a good name for it. It's dry and rough there. It's like the varnish has shrunk and cracked into teensy checks. I'll be looking forward to your before and after pics.

Cooperbailey -- I'm not sure if you were talking to me or not. I did try Formby's Tung Oil on this and it didn't make any difference. I dunno if that's poly?

Moonshadow -- Thanks for all the links! I remember that first piece Iasheff/Keri did. Her results are absolutely gorgeous. I'd imagine if the original owner saw them she'd eat her heart out for what she gave away. I need to pick up some denatured alcohol, lacquer thinner and steel wool. The link about determining finishes is most helpful.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2008 at 1:16PM
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I tried mahogany restor a finish on my asian hardwood table and chairs and it did absolutely nothing to the places where the stain finish had come off or been "scratched" it is as if there was no way for it to absorb... Help ... I hear all of these wonderful reviews and i am wondering if it will not work on certain kinds of finishes?

    Bookmark   April 30, 2011 at 5:07PM
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