help refinishing dresser - 1 attachment

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This is abpw. How about posting the picture in non yEnc?
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Many news providers and services will not even pass files through on a non-binary group. I seem to get them OK except that MS and a few other newsreaders will not support yEnc decoding either.
You may have just pissed off a few dial-up readers with a 200K text post also.
------------------------ "Han" wrote in message
We have salvaged a dresser, but don't like the extremely dark colors. Wiping the outside with alcohol, paint thinner or bleach only removes dirt, but doesn't do anything to the dark stain. We also found that it was partinally veneered with something "burly" - maple? The visible parts seem to be either mahogany or cherry - grain almost like oak, somewhat splintery and somewhat reddish. We would like to get it as light as possible, but I do like the burl pattern. Picture attached (also on abpw), hopefully just as jpg -)}.
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Han
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Try, in a small corner somewhere, a little lacquer thinner. See if it dissolves the finish. If not, try Methyl Hydrate. I see a LOT of potential there.
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Acetone (that's what lacquer thinner is, right?) didn't do anything. I tried to find Methyl Hydrate or methanol in stores before, but no luck here in Jersey. Next we'll try paint remover. There is a rather elaborate top "fence" around the back and sides that is removable and to elaborately and ugly carved to use. It's possible that the only place with the burl is the front of the top drawer, but we'll need to remove the dirt from the rest.
1935 newspaper lined the drawers, and we found a commerotive coin "?" of Franklin Pierce (14th President) in it too (value ~$1.50).
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Han
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Methyl Hydrate=denatured alcohol. It will dissolve shellac. Then redistribute the finish and cleans it too. Lacquer thinner often has tuolene [sp?] in it. If it is shellac, acetone won't dissolve it. Acetone will get to you transdermally if you're not careful. Not fun stuff.
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Denatured alcohol didn't do anything. Denatured alcohol is ethanol (2 carbons) with additives that will really poison you, such as methanol (1 carbon).
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Han
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It looks like there is some finish in, at least, one of the significant scratches (upper right, angled toward the upper right). To me, this would indicate someone topcoated over the previously finished (or originally finished) piece. And there seems to be crud imbedded in the finish. If that picture is representative of the whole, then I would simply strip the whole dresser, of all the finish, and start over. Stripping it would allow for taking care of (fixing) those scratches, properly, also, before refinishing it.
Sonny
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Sorry to have probably misled you all.
Upon closer examination, acetone seemed to have removed some finish (lacquer?). As far as I can see now, there is only a fairly thin layer of finish and a LOT of dirt. The dresser was not too well cared for, dates from before 1935, and only seems to have the burl on the middle of the top drawer. The rest is veneer of some kind too.
Now my question is how to lighten up the veneer when we have the lacquer (?) removed. The acetone didn't seem to even out the darker color of the exposed veneer to that which was underneath the drawer pulls.
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Han
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Lacquer thinner will remove some other finishes, other than lacquer, if applied in quantity and worked vigorously. I doubt you will remove just the top dark coat finish, leaving the lighter coating intact, unless you use a professional restoration technique. That age of piece is not worth the trouble of restoration. Strip it, repair it and refinish it to your liking. That dresser is most likely a production piece, not an individually hand crafted piece.
Sonny
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Thanks for the advice, Sonny. It was about to be trashed, and we don't know whether we are really going to keep it. Since I need to build something new, this will at least temporarily function, but the grime definitely has to come off!
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Han
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On 3/14/2011 6:28 AM, Han wrote:

Have you tried Naptha? It will oftgen remove grime, grease and dirt and it's not that hazardous. Try it on a hidden spot first. Also, I've used the following to clean years of grime/grease off of old cabinets.
Any all purpose household cleaner that contains "orange oil". Put damp sponge in microwave for 30 to 40 seconds, apply cleaner to part with hot sponge. For tough areas leave cleaner on for a minute or so. Rinse sponge, reheat sponge, repeat.
You will want to wear gloves with that hot sponge.
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Thanks, Karl. We'll try the orange oil cleaner first. Afina says she has some. Then comes the jet fuel <grin>.
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Han
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Sounds like a great method, Swingy. I'll remember that.
I've found that spraying things with a fine mist of water and letting it sit for about 10 minutes helps remove most waterborne grime in seconds when you get around to wiping it. That might not be a good idea with Han's veneer, but it works for most other things.
Then you can try the solvents for oilborne grime to finish cleaning the item. Sometimes it works best in the opposite order, depending upon which type of grime is under the other.
-- Small opportunities are often the beginning of great enterprises. -- Demosthenes
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Okay, now I think I understand the mission. Instead of trying to nit- pick the cleaning process, go to WalMart and get some KleanStrip finish remover in the spray can....2 cans. Spray 1/4 area of the piece, allow it to work for 10 minutes, or so, and scrub the piece with a stiff brush. Rinse by dipping your same brush in a bucket of mineral sprits (1/4 gallon), scrub (fast) some more , then rinse (fast) by wiping with a mineral spirits (dripping) wet rag. Repeat on the next 1/4 area section. This cleaning process will take about an hour or so to complete the whole dresser. Get some large cardboard boxes or scrap ply to do the stripping/rinsing work on. *The mineral spirits rinse will facilitate removing the stripper/gunk and neutralize the active ingredience of the stripper (the stripped gunk will bead up, turn hard and fall to the wayside like loose pebbles). **The stripper - Spray downwind and don't spray near your car/truck or other important painted object.
Sonny
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Okay, now I think I understand the mission. Instead of trying to nit- pick the cleaning process, go to WalMart and get some KleanStrip finish remover in the spray can....2 cans. Spray 1/4 area of the piece, allow it to work for 10 minutes, or so, and scrub the piece with a stiff brush. Rinse by dipping your same brush in a bucket of mineral sprits (1/4 gallon), scrub (fast) some more , then rinse (fast) by wiping with a mineral spirits (dripping) wet rag. Repeat on the next 1/4 area section. This cleaning process will take about an hour or so to complete the whole dresser. Get some large cardboard boxes or scrap ply to do the stripping/rinsing work on. *The mineral spirits rinse will facilitate removing the stripper/gunk and neutralize the active ingredience of the stripper (the stripped gunk will bead up, turn hard and fall to the wayside like loose pebbles). **The stripper - Spray downwind and don't spray near your car/truck or other important painted object.
Sonny
Sonny has it right. The only thing I would add is to try and remove as much dirt as possible before stripping so that the stripper does not have to work its way through any dirt. I like letting the stripper do all the work rather than having to scrub it in and disturb the wax layer that forms on the top which prevents evaporation. I would first wash, rinse, and then wipe dry with a capful of Dawn dish detergent in 1 gallon of warm water and then do the same with some odorless mineral spirits. The water solution will remove water soluble dirt and some grease and the mineral spirits will remove any remaining oil soluble dirt. On rare occasions, I have had to use a white scrubby sponge to provide a little more abrasive action with the water solution and some gentle 4/0 steel wool with the mineral sprits but be very careful that you do not start scratching the surface to the point of damage.
Good Luck.
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Thanks, Sonny and Baron!
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Han
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Han wrote:

No
Not only possible but probable.

Note that if you have to get into sanding the veneer (top drawer front) that veneer back then was much thicker than it is now; 1/16 wasn't uncommon.
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dadiOH
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Thanks, DadiOH! Now what is lacquer thinner??
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Han
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Han wrote:

I suspect it depends upon who makes it but - although it contains acetone - it has more goodies in addition.
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