Is this Walnut?

norasnewsApril 2, 2008

I would like to refinish or restore the top.. it is pretty worn.. has been our kitchen table for the last 12 years and we have not been very kind to it...

I have been reading about gel stains.. and wondered if that might be an option for me.

I would probably do the chairs too, since they are beat up.

A refinisher quote $1900.00 to refinish the whole set, and there is no way I can afford that!!!! It was a hand me down!!

Any advice would be greatly appreciated

Thanks for your help!

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Need to see a close up of the grain.
That style is not one of those typically made in walnut...but who knows.
Should not be much of a trick to put a new finish on the top....
And look at it this way, as long as you don't dig into the wood or paint it ....what you do can be undone.
Give us a couple of close ups of the top and likely someone can tell you what kind of wood it is.
I am thinking maple or birch...
Linda C

    Bookmark   April 2, 2008 at 11:12PM
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Thanks for the response! Here is a close up of the top:

    Bookmark   April 2, 2008 at 11:59PM
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Doesn't look like walnut to me.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2008 at 9:40AM
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"I have been reading about gel stains.. and wondered if that might be an option for me."

Gel stains would be one step in a multi-step process. What else did you have in mind?

Stripping and refinishing is a lot of work particularly with all the detail on the table legs and chair spindles. $1900 sounds like a very reasonable price to me.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2008 at 5:39PM
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Well I guess I consider these my options:

o pay someone 1900.00 (since these are hand me down, not likely, just don't have it!)

o buy a new table and chairs for 1900.00 (since we have a perfectly good set, not likely, same as above.)

o attempt to sand and gel stain the table and chairs myself.

As far as the multi step process, everything I read about gel stains is that you don't have to strip first.. just lightly sand and apply...

Oh! One other option could be the restora finish product..

Any idea what kind of wood it is?
My thoughts would be do the thing that would cause the least amount of damage first!

    Bookmark   April 3, 2008 at 10:49PM
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You wood appears to be light. If that's the original finish, I would bet it's laquer.
I understand you just want a good looking set for your family to eat on.
I would try one of those restore a finish things. Or try my much maligned by some mix of 1/3 laquer thinner and 2/3 shellac thinner. Sop it on and wipe it off with paper towels.
BUT first mask very well the rest of the table and be sure your work area is very well ventilated.
Then see what it looks like. I am guessing that it will just need a couple of coats of polyurethane and will stand up to all the home work and projects you can throw at it.
Linda C

    Bookmark   April 4, 2008 at 2:07PM
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I think you're misunderstanding what gel stains are for. Stains, including gel stains, are for changing the color of wood objects. They don't provide any protection against dirt, scratches, water, food, or anything else. Yes, you could use a gel stain to darken the color of the table without completely stripping it, but this wouldn't fix the dings and scratches; it would probably make some of them more conspicuous. If you just scuffed and stained the surface and called it done, all you'd have accomplished is to apply a thin, delicate layer of color to your existing damaged finish. That thin layer of color would easily be damaged when you used the table, and would soon look awful. Stain, of any kind, is not going to accomplish what you're hoping for.

Instead of stains, you need to understand clear furniture finishes, of which there are many types. It doesn't sound like you're up for stripping and sanding all of these surfaces (I wouldn't be excited about such a prospect either) so you should look into clear finishes that can be applied over existing finishes. The quick-fix finish restoration products might be a good option for the chairs and table legs, but I'd want something more durable for the table top. As Linda suggests, polyurethane is a good way to go. It might even be worth stripping and sanding just the table top, steaming out some of the dents and otherwise sprucing it up before applying a new finish, even if stripping the chairs is more than you want to tackle.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2008 at 7:54AM
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Do you need to refinish the ENTIRE table and chairs, or just the table top? Thanks to the helpful people here on the woodworking forum, I stripped/stained/finished an old maple table I inherited. It came out beautiful. (Thanks, everyone!) Just doing the top of the table won't be so bad for you....but the trick will be to exactly match the rest of the finish, or you'll need to do the entire set.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2008 at 3:12PM
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I thank everyone for their input!

I think one thing I know is gel stain will NOT work in this instance for sure. The top is in pretty bad shape.

What I am unclear on is whether it is worth it to try a Restora Finish before I strip and sand. I think I may just go for it, and try .. but I know I can't poly after, and frankly I am sure with all the damage my kids inflict on this poor table, it needs a srong clear coat...

Maybe.. I can sand and restain the top (and lots of poly)and use a java/espresso gel stain for the legs, that way I don't have to worry about matching exactly!!! The legs are fine....

The chair arms are a little worn, and the finish is completely gone in some places... I think I will start with a chair and see what happens?

I still am unclear on wood type, other than it is NOT walnut!! maybe birch...

(I am planning on using gel stain on other projects in my house.. Stair railing and mantle.. so I may have mispoke in the previous post, I am getting confused with the terms.. )

    Bookmark   April 5, 2008 at 3:34PM
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Nope - definitely not Walnut.

Looks like Birch to me.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2008 at 9:47PM
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What does the nameplate on the back of the chair say? Knowing the manufacturer may help identify the wood species.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2008 at 10:03PM
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Why can't you use poly after restora finish?
And why does the table top have to match the legs?
Linda C

    Bookmark   April 11, 2008 at 10:04PM
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Thanks for the responses..birch is workable!

I thought I read on another forum that restora finish is incompatible with poly... if I can poly over, I would love it... has anyone ever done it????

This is from their website: "DO NOT apply Restor-A-Finish to the new imitation wood finishes or use it under polyurethane finishes as a stain!"

    Bookmark   April 16, 2008 at 9:20AM
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To me, the table top certainly looks like white oak. Probably plain sawn, not quarter sawn, otherwise it would have the telltale rays. The chairs could be birch or maple - not enough detail to determine.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2008 at 12:26AM
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Beautiful set, looks like flat sawn oak to me.
Strip the table top, using s liquid stripper,
follow the directions on the stripper can.
then sand the table smooth.
Apply Boiled linseed oil with a rag, wait three to
5 days until the boiled linseed is dry. The boiled linseed oil will fill in the darker cathedrals in the oak enabling the stain to take evenly....after three to five days after the BLO is dry you can apply the stain.

I have had a lot of success getting that reddish brown
color that your table and chairs are.

Start with mixing about 3 parts Minwax English Chestnut with 1 part Minwax special walnut and apply to scrap pieces and adjust you mix until you achieve the desired color.

wait two days and then start applying coats of semi gloss varnish. It's best to apply the varnish with a rag wiping on thin coats. Lightly sand with fine sandpaper or 0000 steel wool between coats of varnish...make sure you tack cloth the table before well after sanding.


    Bookmark   April 25, 2008 at 7:49AM
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You have failed to provide us with a MOST IMPORTANT fact that can and will effect what you use on the top. IS THE TOP MADE OF SOLID WOOD? I would also like to see a close up of the edgeing on the table. It (the edge) doesn't look like is is carved or intricate. If it is just plain flat surface it would possibly be an indicator that the table is homemade. If it is homemade more than likely it is of solid wood.
There is a lot of very fine homemade furniture floating out there. My father was an accountant by trade, but he built some very excellent furniture when he worked for TVA during the building of Norris Damn north of Knoxville, TN.
He built three sets for bedrooms. 1 double out of Cherry,
1 double out of black walnut, and 1 twin set out of black walnut. That was in the 1930's and my family is still using it. The cherry set was mine and it have been thru 1 class 4 hurricane and one class 5 (Andrew 1992). After both it was just refinished with hand rubbed oil finish my father made. (sorry, lost the ingredience)

Please check out the constuction before you start anything.

1eyedJack and the Dawg

NOTE: I also think that Tung oil would be better then Boiled Linseed Oil.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2008 at 12:35PM
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