Cigarette Smoke Damage to Tabletop

vallen1February 11, 2011

We recently inherited a beautiful 1950s mahogany dining suite from my mother-in-law who was a very heavy smoker. She kept a lace tablecloth on it for years, and once removed, we discovered a "pattern" etched into the tabletop finish; where the holes were in the cloth there is now a dull finish. The stain in not compromised, appears the damage is only to the finish. The rest of the table and sides still have a beautiful shine. There is also a cherry secretary where the finish is "dulled" in places, we believe from the smoke, too. We used oil-based polish and looked good for a day, but then the dullness returned. Any suggestions short of refinishing the pieces which we do not want to tackle? We've thoroughly cleaned & polished both, but didn't really affect the finish issues. Tung oil, linseed oil, lemon oil have any effect? Many thanks!

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The old finish is damaged. It has to be removed to repair.

The finish may be shellac or lacquer. Both of those finishes can be repaired without a lot of mess, but you will need to learn how. Or have someone refinish them.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2011 at 12:46AM
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Try cleaning with paint thinner.

It will not harm shellac or lacquer, but is good at removing cigarette tar that may have collected.

"Oil based polish" is not going to remove surface dirt.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2011 at 10:34AM
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