Help restoring newer finish

2ajsmamaSeptember 29, 2008

Help - I just bought two end and a coffee table from CL. I knew there were a few scratches (show light on "chocolate" stained wood) and a few dents, but we have kids so better than buying new. What I didn't see were the small dents from a pointed object on one table, almost looks like veneer the way it's chipped. And when I turned the table lamp on, tons of microscratches (dry dusting?) swirling around the top. I am really not into stripping and refinishing these right now - thought a little steel wool and naptha/mineral spirits would be good for now. These are American Signature brand "solid butcher block" (maple? very light color in chips, does look solid since seams in butcher block match up on underside) tables in dark brown/black stain. I don't know how thick the lacquer is since I'm not into restoring modern finishes - more of an unfinished furniture gal, some antique refinishing experience (mostly stripping and restaining painted oak). What's the best way to make these look halfway decent now, without making my job too hard later (or maybe even resell them instead of refinishing them when kids are older)? Thanks

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Well, looked at the one table I have in the house again last night, definitely solid, I'm thinking the shallow dents/scratches show so light b/c maybe the manufacturer just tinted the lacquer? Except that the underside is fairly dark too (not the practically white wood that's showing in the dents) but flat. The top/sides/legs are a satin finish. I touched up the marks a bit with a stain marker, I can live with the slight damage (it's "Arts and Crafts" style so a little distressing is OK with me). But what can I do to buff out the swirls from dusting that show when the lamp is on? Since (if this is tinted lacquer) the finish looks very thin, I really don't want to take any steel wool to it - I'm afraid of going right though the color. I think I might have to put a new coat of lacquer on, but how do you prep the surface of these modern post-catalyzed lacquers (esp if it's a tinted one)? And any idea (if the color coat is just on the surface finish) how to clean up the white scuffs, milk splashes, etc. from the legs without going through the color? I definitely don't want to have to relacquer the whole thing (all 3 tables), just the top(s) if I can get away with it.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2008 at 8:29AM
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There are a whole host of things less aggressive than steel wool. There are a number of polishing compounds and scratch removers made for abrading out the fine scratches in furniture. However, once you start abrading the "off the gun" finish is going to look different. But my advice is if this is really going to bother you so much, you are eventually going to wear through the finish. Learn to live with it, or settle for a cover up such as a furniture polish (NOT Pledge) or furniture wax.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2008 at 9:33PM
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I've got some rottenstone - but what lubricant would I use on this finish? I've never used a furniture polish or wax on anything - what's a good one? The one table I've got in the house right now looks OK until you turn the table lamp on. I just took a paper towel and some Goof Off to the edge (where it rubbed against a white wall) and the leg (must have slid a white painted basket or something under?), the latex paint came off but either there was reddish dirt on the table, or the chocolate (cherry?) finish came off a little too, so I am really leery of touching this furniture. Thanks

    Bookmark   October 1, 2008 at 12:48PM
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Most modern furnitures are sprayed with lacquer and they are very very thin.. more for a sheen than protection.
You should leave it alone as suggested, get a wood filler crayon that sort of match color for the chips. A polish may increase the shine and make the deeper scratches more apparent.

If you continue what you are doing there with random products, I think next you will be asking how to refinishing the furniture next

At my home I just put some pictures and table lamps on my side tables, to cover the cat claw damages and prevent further damages.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2008 at 1:43PM
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I'm not doing anything with "random products", I just got the latex paint from other things scraping against the table off, and touched up with stain. As I said, I don't mind a few dings, personally don't like the look of wood filler (though I had to use it where they face-nailed my floor) because without a top coat it stands out like a sore thumb. I am looking for advice on this forum how to buff out or wax over the fine scratches in a modern finish. I can/will put magazines, lamps etc. to cover the worst dents but these microscratches cover the entire surface of at least one of the tables. If as Bobsmyuncle suggested a wax or polish would make them less noticeable, not more, I would like to know a good one. I have never used a polish or wax on any furniture I own, though I do have a can of Guardsman polish and some wipes that for some reason came with my new leather sofa.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2008 at 1:58PM
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Ugh! Now I am asking how to refinish these - not because I tried "random products" and went through the finish, but because the one table we had brought into the house was the best of the three! The coffee table is an absolute mess - the one good ding I saw in it touched up well with a stain marker, but there are so many scratches on it, and they're not superficial! I can feel them with my fingernail. The legs look to be in good shape. I don't think this finish can be saved, even though the wood isn't showing white through the scratches. What kind of a stripper do you use on these modern lacquers? I remember Bobsmyuncle saying that lacquer thinner doesn't work?? I'm ready to strip, sand, stain and poly if I have to!

    Bookmark   October 1, 2008 at 4:54PM
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Try a light sanding of the top and lacquer from a spray can. Professional paint stores like Kelly Moore sell touch up lacquer in a spray can that is designed for touching up precatalyzed lacquer finishes. (I'm sure you have seen the spray cans of Deft lacquer at Home Depot; those work well but the Deft is not as durable as a catalyzed lacquer.) The thing about lacquer is it is self-leveling as it dries, so a light coat can fill in scratches.

Make sure you get all the wax and other products off the surface before sanding and prepping for touch up. Don't think sanding alone will remove the wax or anything else you put on. Get a mild stripper designed to remove the stuff you used.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2008 at 5:27PM
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Lacquer thinner will remove lacquer. So will Goof-Off (I have a table a few feet away from me that someone tried this on and stripped finish down to bare wood.)

If it is a common NC lacquer, about any stripper will work.

But if they are not that bad, you can add more lacquer on the top.

Guardsman Furniture Polish is a good one -- it's what I use.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2008 at 5:51PM
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Oh, I thought I read something about lacquer thinner not removing modern production (catalyzed) lacquers. Anyway, I have plenty of Goof Off (that I bought to get latex paint off my unfinished wood trim last year). Guess that's why I was getting a little color off when I used it on the edge of the table.

I am willing to try just a spray coat of lacquer to fill in the scratches if you think it'll work. As I said, I can feel them with my fingernail, but I've touched up the deeper dents/scratches that had light wood showing through with stain marker and don't mind the "distressed" look so really don't want to strip/sand this down to bare wood and have to stain it. Just can't stand all the cross-grain scratches. Not sure how you define "not that bad" so if I can feel them but they're not down to bare wood, you think fresh coat of lacquer will work? Did you mean Ben Moore? I haven't heard of Kelly Moore.

Since I have no idea what kind of polish or wax previous owner might have used on these, what do you suggest to clean it before putting more lacquer on? Mineral spirits? Then 220 grit sandpaper to scuff, then spray? Thanks guys.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2008 at 9:23PM
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