Weird finish. How to repair.

I've got a bedroom suite, thirty or more years old, whose finish (whatever it is) has turned, um, "sticky." As a consequence, it hold dust like a flocked Christmas tree!
I could, and probably will, refinish the four pieces, but curiosity compels me to ask what IS the original finish and what caused this condition?
Thanks in advance for your best guesses.
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HeyBub wrote:

There is no doubt it is either lacquer, varnish, shellac or oil :)
Why did it get sticky? No idea, what did you do to it? :) Seriously, what do you use for heat? Some emission from that may have been the culprit.
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dadiOH
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This happened to our Varithane(sp?) finished floors, too. Took about 25 years but... turned into a real disaster. Finish just kept getting sticky and/or gooey. We were told when we did the finish to watch out for that, that the finish would go 'bad' in 20-25 years. But, at the time we did the floor we thought that time length was a long ways off.
Can't remember the name now, we used something like Homer Formby's 'refinisheing' Simply wipe over the surface and it did something to the finish that repaired the floors enough to get by until we moved.
Be very careful about refinishing furniture. If the furniture has antique value, it will destroy that value. If the furniture is in light, then refinishing can produce a 'watery' look, where the sanding makes the surface unlevel and the finish shines like a wind-driven water puddle looking very bad. You've probably seen that finish repair on the concert string basses - they look all shiney and new, but ruined.
If the furniture is flat surface sand with a SOLID flat block to avoid uneveness. Don't use electrical tools, do it by hand. It's the only way to preserve the flatness - unless you have a milling machine that can handle it.
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Why not use a chemical stripper (I know, bad for the environment)?
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wrote:

Hurt the environment? Anything I personally do will only minimally hurt the environment. It's only if the rest of you join in.
the floor? not feasible, about 2,000 sq ft cost absolutely prohibitive.
the furniture? perhaps, but those strippers take a long time, are very messy, and swell the wood with their liquid bases. All a giant headache. Again simply wiping a 'refresher' finisher over the surface is a LOT easier. and leaves all the under details intact.
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Probably a baked-on honey glazing.
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HeyBub wrote:

Macy may be on to something if the finish in your floors is a poly varnish. I know for a fact - from multiple experiences - that polyurethane *FOAM* goes bad in about 10 years, turns mushy and sticky. I don't know if poly *VARNISH* does the same and I don't have anything with it on it that is even 10 years old let alone 25 to check but maybe so...
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wrote:

Hmm, I wonder if that's what Ford used as the base "cushion" for it's leather steering wheels back in the early 90's. My, and many other peoples, early 90's explorer steering wheels had whatever was under the leather go soft and squishy. Some people reported black gunk would ooze out.
I don't know if poly

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On 12/12/2012 9:48 AM, HeyBub wrote:

Give us a hint....wood grain showing? Solid color plastic? I it is wood with just old wax and dirt causing the stickiness, mineral spirits would probably clean it up nicely. I would test on an inconspicuous spot first. I recently used a magic eraser on an old gummy (waxed) wood dresser with nice results....I get pretty brutal with old finishes sometimes, but this was already rather dull and not perfect.
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Norminn wrote:

## Um, yeah, sort of. It's very dark and hard to detect any wood grain (although it IS wood).

## No, it's wood.

## Don't think so - it's never been waxed. I'll give the mineral spirits a go.
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