Refinishing China Cabinet! Help!

All,
I have recently purchased a mahogany china cabinet from an auction that I wish to refinish. I started stripping the piece with a spray on solvent - but I'm noticing something that I dont like!
It looks as if the stain applied before is not coming out like I need it to. Maybe I have expectations that arent realistic (this is my first re-finishing effort), but I was expecting the wood to be a natural-like color after I stripped the original varnish off. Then...I called a professional refinisher for an estimate...
He mentioned that what I have done is drive the stain from the original finish further into the wood of the cabinet - and that it's basically impossible to refinish at home! I would agree with his first point - but because he wanted to charge me $900.00 to refinish the piece - I'm not ready to give up yet.
Anyone have any ideas on what it takes to successfully strip the old finish off of this cabinet? Maybe I'm missing some pretty simple techniques that can make this job somewhat easier -
Thanks!
Chris Lang
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
I'm in the final stages of refinishing a china cabinet, I had somewhat the same Idea as you, and yes I was wrong, what I have ended up doing is sanding the finish and stain from the whole thing. I started in June 2003, all I have left is to put 3 coats of poly on the top hutch and I'm done (yes I build several projects in the mean time), it's a very long and boring process, my advice is get a good RO Sander a 1/4 sheet sander and lots of sand paper FYI the Norten 3x sandpaper will make your life a lot more pleasant Chris Lang wrote:

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
He is protecting his $900 when he says it is impossible to strip and refinish at home. A lot of folks have been doing this in home shops for years. The bad news is that stripping and refinishing is a yukky, tedious job. If the existing finish is somewhat in tact (and you haven't gone too far) you might be able to improve the appearance without fully stripping.
There are some antique refinishers made by Formby's and MinWax that are a mild solvent that partly liquidfies the surface finish and lets you spread it back out with a rag or brush. I have also done the same thing with liquid strippers and spirits. It really depends on the finish you are working with. All of this assumes there is no paint on the piece.

to.
ready
finish
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
You can very likely strip and refinish your cabinet at home but it will be much messier, more costly, and time-consuming than I'm sure you anticipated.
It isn't entirely clear to me what you describe. I am going to assume that you had a lacquer topcoat since this is very likely to have been the case. The solvent stripper dissolved the lacquer as well as any lacquer toner coats. It won't necessarily drive the stain further in unless you are giving it the chance to do so. If that is the case, you can try repeatedly wiping down the piece with fresh rags and solvent until nothing more shows up on the rag. This presupposes that you do not have any pigment stain which may slowly abrade off the surface as the binder is removed by the fresh stripper.
The real key is to keep the stripper wet and not allow it to dry on the wood. I would even suggest wiping down the freshly stripped piece with clean rags and fresh stripper dispensed from a squeeze bottle so that any finish and stain left behind gets removed. It will also keep the finish from redepositing back on the wood as it is cleaned, a common occurrence when using mineral spirits to remove the residual wax from wax containing finish strippers.
By the way, $900 is a good price unless the cabinet is a small one.
Good Luck

to.
ready
finish
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Baron,
Thanks for the reply - you did mention one thing that caught my attention.
I am stripping the wood with a semi-paste now - and i have been wiping residue with mineral spirits...it seems to cause things to remain dark.
Is there another alternative for final wiping?
Chris

I
solvent -

but
that
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Try "Love Potion #9" - 2 volumes of toluene + 1 volume of acetone + 1 volume of alcohol. This is a finish stripper in its own right but is heavy on the toluene to cut down on evaporation and to dissolve any wax from the stripper. It also dries fairly quickly so you don't have to wait hours to start sanding, staining, or finishing.
Good Luck.

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Uhhh, ventilate well. You will want to wear appropriate respiratory protection. And the correct gloves and goggles.
Patriarch
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Site Timeline

HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.