Quick fix

bayridgeriSeptember 3, 2005

I have an old gate leg table, dark wood. It's dusty, dirty and in need of some work. Does anyone have any suggestion as to how I could clean it up without totally redoing the table? Kind of like a "quick fix" for now.

Thanks for any suggestions.

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i,m sure there others a lot more qualified , but if it is not really expensive or won,t go down in value because you messed with it.
simply clean the heck out of it, if it is wobbly , take it apart , the whole thing , and clean it with a soft scrub brush (no scratches), dirt is easy , any cleaner , and scrub it , wipe it, alcohol and a good rag is a great cleaner and cheap.
refinishing is another ?
but if it is wobbly and the screws are loose , easy fix, is wrapped the screw in tape. fill the holes with glue, larger screws , then put back to gether,
I have a lg table from t.s. 20$ that was scrubbed and alcoholed, and wiped with gel stain in one day and i,m amazed , and it is the first pc. anybody says anything about. Rick

    Bookmark   September 3, 2005 at 3:34PM
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I always start with water like wichitarick suggests. If the underlying finish is nice, Murphys Oil Soap (or store brand) with soft rags should work. I have used it on an old walnut dinning table and was very pleased. A fine steel wool and linseed oil will also buff out scratches after some of the dirt is removed. Good luck and let us know how it turns out!

    Bookmark   September 9, 2005 at 4:52PM
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I love old tables and have been fooling around with them for a long time. If you have a gate leg table with fancy turned legs then I'd hope the legs are in pretty good shape and all you need to do is wipe them down with soap and water and if they look good leave them alone. If you are lucky the legs have a laquer finish and you can use a non-shedding piece of cloth and wipe the legs down with alcohol - this will dissolve the laquer and let it re-build into a shiny cover again.

Legs aren't subject to too much wear and if they need to be finished you can buy a new can of shellac, mix 2/3 cup of shellac and 1/3 cup of alcohol in a clean glass jar and use another non-shedding piece of cloth and wipe the legs down with this mix. You could also use a brush and keep the non-shedding cloth in your other hand in case you get a drip or run. Practice on the legs you think will show the least first!

The top is a different matter because it gets so much more wear than the legs usually do. The top could also be solid wood, or a synthetic veneer or a fancy wood veneer and either of the last two of those pose problems.

Some people think veneer is a bad word but if you wanted to use a wide piece of wood for a table or the side of some piece of furniture you would have to do something about the shrinking and swelling of wood fibers over time in dry and damp weather conditions - the wood would warp or crack. The solution is a couple of hundred years old - use veneer. The furniture maker glued long narrow boards together and then glued a very thin layer of wood on top - veneer. Today the veneer can either be wood or a synthetic if you have wood veneer you have a chance of sanding through it right down to the glued together narrow boards, if synthetic you could sand into something really funny looking and sticky or something that just peels off.

I liked the answers you have already rec'd in this thread, I think once cleaned and put together again you should have a nice taple and your only big problem will be the top.

If the top is a synthetic veneer I'd clean it up and buy a wood colored vinyl table cloth and hold it in place on the table with an elastic edge and cover it with a nice table cloth. Leave the vinyl cloth on it forever.

If the top is solid wood I'd sand it down and stain it and finish it with Minwax stuff - read directions for wipe-on poly or email me about getting a stain and finish back on the top.

If the top is a wood veneer I'd try to get away with what posters said above but if that didn't work I'd sand it lightly and see if I could get down to the veneer without getting to the underlying glued wood and then treat it like solid wood. Be most careful about sanding the edged they seem to sand away first. Do the edges last and with sandpaper on a block of pine.

If you can't make the solid wood or the veneer look good, think about painting it black and then putting poly on top of that.

No matter what you do, if the legs are presentable then you still have a great table even if you have to cover the wood with vinyl and keep a nice table cloth on top!


    Bookmark   September 12, 2005 at 12:40PM
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Buy a can of shellac thinner ( denatured alcohol) and a can of laquer thinner....smaller that the can of alcohol.....mix the 2 together....2 parts alcohol and one part shellac thinner and mop it on your finish....and wipe it off with old rags or paper towels. It will dossolve the finish like melting a hardened sugar spill, and won't raise the grain. You don't even have to remove all the finish if you don't want to.....just wipe with the mix until it looks like you want....
There's a book out there....out of print I am sure, by George Grotz, called The Furniture Doctor....that's where I learned that trick!
Linda C

    Bookmark   September 22, 2005 at 7:30PM
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