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Touching up finish on this small "Walnut" table

Posted by linnea56 (My Page) on
Fri, Jan 25, 13 at 23:01

An older friend gave me this small wooden table. I admired its lines, and before I knew it, it was being given to me :) I did not get a good look at it until daylight today. Style and color (though darker) will go well with my 1930's walnut bedroom set.

Normally I can ID wood pretty well, but this one, I can't. It may not photograph well enough to tell. I don't expect it was ever a piece of quality high end furniture. I can see some grain in bright light but the stain is so dark I am guessing it is some inexpensive pine or something. Grain looks wide, not close.

I will clean it with mineral spirits and steel wool when it warms up outside. Unless someone can suggest something better? The carved table edge is full of grunge. My friend thought it was residue from some prior cleaning/refinishing attempt? If it is pine, it likely does not justify the effort to strip it. There are some glass rings on top, surface looks worn away or the finish was never strong enough to withstand liquid. My modest plans right now are to set it under a window with a plant or vase on it.

I would at least like to put a coat of something on the top to shine it up and make it possible for it to resist possible splashing.

So my best approach would be to: clean it, then...sand down the top? Use one of those surface refinishers like Formby's? I have also Howard's Restor-a-finish, which I have never tried. Or just coat it with a few coats of polyurethane or shellac?

Thanks for your help.

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Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Touching up finish on this small "Walnut" table

It might be walnut.

The "refinisher" liquids, like Restore-a-finish, only work if you have enough finish to re-dissolve and spread around.

Clean it with the mineral spirits and steel wool, lightly rub out the rings and scratches, then evaluate its color. If it's looking faded, restain it and apply some polyurethane. I like General Finishes gel topcoat because it's so easy to apply.

RE: Touching up finish on this small "Walnut" table

With those slender, turned legs, it probably is not pine, but a hardwood. One possibility is sweetgum, which was often used for furniture, then stained to mimic more valuable woods.

I've used Watco Rejuvenating Oil on old finishes and it can work wondrously well. If you can find it!

RE: Touching up finish on this small "Walnut" table


I can tell it is not walnut. I have a lot of walnut, so I am familiar with the grain pattern. I was hoping the surface closeup would show the grain pattern better, but it is so dark. Once I get the rim gunk off I should be able to tell if the top is veneered. Right now it does not look like it. The grain is quite wide apart.

I was thinking the same thing about Restore-a-finish. I have only tried the Formby's product, but was guessing they might work in a similar way.

Chibimimi, I have never heard of sweetgum! That is interesting. I have an old pie safe that had a dark obscuring stain. I tried stripping it, but the stain was soaked in so thoroughly it stayed dark. I wonder if that was sweetgum too.

A long time ago I used Watco stripper and some product that had a hardening resin in with the oil. I really liked it. It gave a wonderful finish. Maybe that was the Rejuvenating Oil. I will have to keep my eyes open.

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