Restoring a cocktail cabinet myself - should I attempt it?

Discussion in 'Wood / Woodwork / Carpentry' started by laimtoh, 3 Feb 2018.

  1. laimtoh

    laimtoh

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    I'd like some advice before I start, on whether I should tackle this myself, or not.

    It's a 1930's art deco cocktail cabinet, which has had its varnish deteriorate in places and I'd like to get it back to the original wood and stain and varnish it again.

    There are a few chips in the veneer (walnut possibly), and a tricky job will be to refinish the slat doors - I'll have to remove the flexible backing to do this.

    I'm a competent DIY enthusiast and can handle most things, but should I proceed, or get a professional to do it? It only cost £70, so the risks aren't too high.

    Sorry about the crummy photos, it's hard to get to at the moment.
     

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  3. Tigercubrider

    Tigercubrider

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    I guess that it would cost a fair bit to have a pro restore it, and wouldn't be worth what you pay them afterwards?

    Refitting veneer is tricky but a light rubdown and refinish is more time than skill
     
  4. matz

    matz

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    big horrible job for a DIY. That finish needs stripping not sanding. Modern strippers are near useless!
     
  5. laimtoh

    laimtoh

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    Thanks for the replies so far, I'm keen to DIY this job and it sounds like I won't ruin it by sanding it down.

    I'm told that P180 is the best grade to use, would this be true?

    Following my sanding down, should I use any pre-stain products, and what type of stain should I use?

    Lastly, what type of varnish is best to use?
     
  6. matz

    matz

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    it needs to be stripped not sanded
     
  7. Tigercubrider

    Tigercubrider

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    Something like meths or white spirt and fine wire wool

    I wouldn't hold out much hope for a diy veneer repair but if you are missing a bit, you might be able to find a hidden area on it where you can steal some. Or pinch some from a defined area, filling the hole with car filler, and painting that part with a paint finish - like an ebonised band
     
  8. JobAndKnock

    JobAndKnock

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    Whatever you do DO NOT SAND THIS ITEM (at least not with sand paper). Veneers on mass-produced 1930s furniture are incredibly thin (it was a time of major depression), often as thin as 0.5 or 0.6mm and as a consequence do not stand up to sanding. The finish is quite possibly a cellulose lacquer of some description or possibly even French polish, both of which can be removed using an appropriate solvent (cellulose thinners and methylated spirits respectively), so its probably worth doing some experimentation in a less visible area to see what works best. I've had some success using non-wovens such as Webrax in removing finishes with minimal damage
     
  9. laimtoh

    laimtoh

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    Thanks for your advice again, I'll have a go this weekend.
     
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  11. laimtoh

    laimtoh

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    What grade of Webrax would you suggest I use? And should I use white spirit, or use it dry?

    And once I've finished stripping the coating, what is the best thing to do next?

    Sorry to sound like such a novice, I'm keen to learn more about this.
     
  12. JobAndKnock

    JobAndKnock

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    Firstly you really do need to ascertain exactly what the finish is. Have you tried to remove any of the finish with methylated spirits (which will re-dissolve the shellac in French polish but won't dissolve cellulose lacquer)? If you have tried that, but it hasn't dissolved the finish the next solvent to try is cellulose thinners (Wilko will sell you a very small bottle for about £4). If it isn't either of those there are some alternatives to try - but those two really are your best options - try them in the order I've given you. A well-washed all cotton T-shirt (clean cotton rag) will suffice for the first test. Don't skimp this - you really do need to determine what the finish is before you do anything else
     
  13. laimtoh

    laimtoh

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    Thank you JobAndKnock, I'll follow your steps and see what results I get. I'll report back when done.
     
  14. laimtoh

    laimtoh

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    I can report the lacquer was dissolved eventually by cellulose thinners (meths didn't do anything to the finish - it's high gloss by the way).

    Wilko didn't have any in store, so I found some sold in Halfords for about £4 also, if that helps anyone to know.

    So I'm almost finished with removing the lacquer - thanks very much for guiding me so far.

    When that's done, what should I do next - is varnishing the next step? If so, which one should I get and should I sand it down between coats with a light grade of sandpaper?
     
  15. freddiemercurystwin

    freddiemercurystwin

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    How are there no photos accompanying this thread? :)
     
  16. laimtoh

    laimtoh

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    A reasonable excuse was that I had to wash the thinners off my hands after I realised the rubber washing up gloves had perforated!
     
  17. JobAndKnock

    JobAndKnock

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    Glad to hear that it's progressing well, so far.

    Cellulose thinners are pretty horrible and attack a lot of compounds. Normally they advise using nitryl gloves when handling them as they can attack lower grades of rubber (such as Marigolds), leaching out any plasticisers

    Best "abrasive" for keying the surface is one of the non-woven fabric types, such as 3m Scotch sell - a relatively cheap version is sold by Toolstation as "Fit for the Job" sanding pads. Less risk of going through that ultra thin veneer surface with them
     
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