matching stain

grapeleavesFebruary 25, 2012

I have a not very valuable chest of drawers that had several damage spots. I sanded them and thought I could just stain them and they would disappear. Wrong!! They don't take the stain very well and it's been impossible to match the stain.

I've read about Formby furniture refinisher . Could I use this in just the area of the sanded spots to soften and pull in existing finish over those spots?

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"I've read about Formby furniture refinisher . Could I use this in just the area of the sanded spots to soften and pull in existing finish over those spots? "
You need to identify the finish first.

Some finishes cannot actually be dissolved once they have cured (most varnishes are in this group).

varnishes harden by polymerization, not just simple solvent evaporation. once polymerized it can be impossible to reverse the process and have the finish harden again.

Lacquer an shellac are called 'solvent release' finishes since they cure by just solvent evaporation.

The solvent can dissolve them again and they will harden again (though very old shellac can start to have problems hardening again).

You can test for finish type by using denatured alcohol (dissolves shellac) and then lacquer thinner (dissolves lacquer, but can also destroy varnish) in an inconspicuous spot.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2012 at 11:46AM
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the furniture is 30 years old and it is not an expensive piece.
I'll test to see what kind of finish it is.
If I can't dissolve it, what would be my next option?

    Bookmark   February 26, 2012 at 9:02PM
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At 30 years, it's 1980s and probably a synthetic catalysed resin of some sort. Formby's can't do much to these.

Sand the entire damaged surface, restain as close as you can get to the original color and finish with a clear topcoat.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2012 at 6:22AM
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I have to disagree with Lazygardens. Unless it's been refinished by someone in their garage, 99% chance that it is a lacquer finish. In the last 10 years of business, I've worked on thousands of pieces of furniture with original finishes. There were three that were not lacquer.

Secondly, sanding off the finish is a very poor way to do it. It does not get all the finish out and is a real risk of damage if the surface is veneer. Tops and sides of most pieces are veneered. Use a chemical stripper with lots of ventilation (outdoors, if you can).

There is no magic key to matching stains. If you find a good paint store, they will sometimes custom mix a stain for you. Realize, though, that the wood and the finish also contribute to the resultant color.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2012 at 10:26AM
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well after many, many tries to match, I finally did come up with a pretty good match, however several of the spots were resistant to taking the stain. I am giving in . I bought stripper today.

I also bought some wood conditioner so hopefully that will help it take the stain better once it is stripped.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2012 at 8:31PM
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I would skip the wood conditioner, as this will actually slow the absorption rate of the stain, making it appear lighter.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2012 at 10:49AM
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I've stripped it. the wood seems to be an oak veneer.
Thanks for the tip on the wood conditioner.
crossing my fingers my match will work.
I don't have any scrap oak to test it on, so have just been testing it on the scrap I have. I know that is not ideal, better to test it on the same kind of wood.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2012 at 8:55PM
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