oak table restoration refinishing

I've been rebuilding a old solid red oak table that was in terrible condition. All the hide glue joints had failed so that rather than have a top I had ten bowed, warped and twisted boards. Even the laminated legs had to be glued back together. I also had to make some new parts to replace those missing or broken in the extension-leave sub-structure. Anyhow, I'm at the point where it's time to sand, this after using scrapers to remove what remained of the finish. It has become painfully obvious that if I sand it enough to remove all the finish from the pores that the table will shrink!
I'm not sure what the original finish was as it was in terrible condition. However, from what I can tell, the table's defects were filled with Plaster-of-Paris and then the whole table stained and a fairly thick finish applied--varnish?? Clearly a stain will be needed to even out the color as there were water and sun damaged areas and filler was needed to repair damage.
The books I have on finishing deal with new work. I'm not sure what I can use for the stain and finish given the fact that old finish will remain in the pores. Suggestions?
I posted a picture of the table in it's original state on ABPW under the subject "oak table restoration refinishing" so you can get an idea of just how bad things were. When it's done I'll post a before and after set of pictures.
Thanks,
John
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On Thu, 3 Jun 2004 21:42:18 -0400, "John Grossbohlin"

This is an interesting problem.
My first thought would be to apply a barrier coat of shellac.
I don't know if you have access to a spray gun, but the following will work with a brush, although your touch must be delicate.
I would use a dye stain, such as TransTint and put it into a thinned shellac mixture. The stain should be of a color that is a bit less than the lightest shade of brown, or yellowish-brown in the wood that makes up the table.
When you have established your base level of color, you can begin to build it.
I would try a second coat of the thinned mixture, using the same concentration as the first coat. If that does not even things out (and I don't mean that it looks totally uniform, but that you have a more or less uniform background color, as close to the lightest shade of the existing wood as possible, to base the rest of your finish on) then make up a mix that goes towards the middle color of the piece - and apply it in a well thinned mixture. This coat whould not attempt to be uniform, but should follow along the grain, almost in streaks. If you own a graining comb, this would be the time to use it. If not, an almost dry brush should be tipped over the piece, in the direction of the grain.
At a certain point, the piece will begin to look less splotchy. The areas that had whiting on them (the plaster of paris) will probably have to be grained in with an artist's brush, in order to blend them into the wood grain.
At this point I would seal things with a coating of clear shellac, keeping the mix thin.
If there are areas that still don't blend in well, as in the case where the graining over the whiting is not definite enough, now is the time to tune these up.
On oak, I usually use a pallete of three shades, from light to dark - and all in the range of the browns that show in the figure of the wood surrounding the patched area.
Seal this with another coat of thinned shellac.
Once this has dried and been rubbed off, you will have a decision to make. If the table still looks streaky, I would apply coats of shellac that are tinted to the middle tones of the piece, until you are happy with the look. Remember that you will be applying a top coat of clear, and that most of these have an ambering quality to them.
The whole game is to unify the look of the piece without making it too dark, and this can be difficult to achieve - and takes much patience.
Good luck, and let us know how you make out.
Regards,
Tom.
Thomas J. Watson - Cabinetmaker, ret. tjwatson1atcomcastdotnet (real email) http://home.comcast.net/~tjwatson1 /
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wrote:
snip

snip
Tom,
Thanks for the thoughtful reply. You suggested an approach I hadn't considered... I had been thinking more along the lines of a gel stain and poly to hide the mess and then decided there were probably more craftsman like alternatives! ;-)
I do have access to spray equipment but would not be opposed to doing it with brushes. It is clearly a labor intensive process that would take longer to do than the mechanical restoration. The mechanical part of the job went quite well and pretty quick once I figured out what the missing/broken structure was supposed to look like and do.
I've saved your reply for further consideration.
John
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did much the same ,I wa chipping golf balls next to the old shop. some went into the kudzu, [actually most]. For those who dont know no better kudzu is a southerin vine that takes over full grown trees with ease. Any how while searchin for balls and avoidin all kinds of nasty reptiles I found this little oak table which must have laid around outside for many years .
Brought it into the shop and let it dry for a couple of years and just now refinished it ,you know it dont look bad ....mjh
-- http://members.tripod.com/mikehide2
wrote:

had
at
what
shrink!
condition.
finish
as
in
just
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can't quite figure if you are looking for sympathy or help....mjh
-- http://members.tripod.com/mikehide2

had
at
what
finish
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I think the question "Suggestions?" kind of answers that. ;-)
Everyone who saw the table figured it was good for nothing but firewood but I saw a nice kitchen table sitting there that suits my wife's "county" tastes. The project presented a lot of interesting woodworking technical problems (recall my photo on ABPW titled "there is a repair in there somewhere" with so many clamps you couldn't see the table leg, and the photo of the table in it's original condition).
Sympathy... not on your life, this has been a very satisfying experience!
John

can
in
just
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-- http://members.tripod.com/mikehide2

but
photo
remain
the
of
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Did not see the picture, with my ISP most posts last less than a day. So my suggestion put the picture on your web site for all to see.
Second regarding books Charles Heyward and John Rodd are excellent authors....mjh
http://members.tripod.com/mikehide2

but
photo
remain
the
of
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my
No web site... I've got too many "hobbies" now. ;-)
I'll check out the aurhors' offerings.
Thanks,
John
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