What finish coat for antique oak dresser

We have an antique art nouveau unstained oak two-door dresser we bought at a garage sale. It is complete but pretty beat up, and cracked in places, with original shellac, worn off in spots. We have removed much of what remains of the shellac, and I am now re-attaching and gluing various loose parts back together, so that it is structurally solid and the cracks are rejoined. This will be used in my adult son's bedroom as a light table next to the bed, and will get light duty use. I wish to have a practical, sturdy natural finish, preferably not using stain given the spotty areas of fresh wood and sealed wood. What would you suggest as a non yellowing finish coat, given I don't want to darken the nice medium toned unstained oak? I am guessing my choices are somewhere among the following: carnauba wax, Polyurethane alkyd satin, Poly acrylic, varnish, shellac, etc. Your advice is welcome! Roger
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You do know, don't you, that if you ask 10 woodworkers for finishing advice you'll get at least 11 different answers... I'd go with shellac. Super-blonde won't impart much color. Easy to apply, don't have to sand between coats, should be plenty durable for light use. The new coat will literally blend right together with the old coat, as long as it's relatively clean. I'd do a few coats with 1 or 2lb cut, rub it out with 0000 steel wool, and add a bit of paste wax. Mmm... so smooth and "warm" I can almost feel it. suggested source: http://www.hockfinishes.com /, also available through Woodcraft. Andy
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"Roger" <sherry roger at comcast dot net> wrote in

Shellac is consistent with the original design, cheap, natural, and easy to apply. It's more than sufficient to last for another 50 years of reasonable use. After that, it's easy for someone else to strip and renew the finish.
What more do you want?
I used dewaxed super blond shellac & wax on the art noveau nightstands I did for my son & daughter-in-law for their wedding present. Looks great!
Patriarch
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at comcast dot net> wrote:

I've just completed refinishing some oak kitchen cabinets and am well pleased with the results.
I did not stain. I applied 4 coats of good quality (gloss) oil-based poly. I used a light sanding (400 grit) between coats. Rather than using a satin poly top coat, I used gloss and then knocked off the "plastic" shine with 0000 steel wool and a little wax.
Since you're anxious to avoid the yellowing associated with oil-based poly, you could try this with a water-based poly or the poly acrylic. They are probably not quite as durable as the oil-based poly but your dresser will likely get a lot less abuse than my kitchen cabs (with 3 young kids)!
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Here are two pics of the dresser (age unknown) in question. Roger
http://img246.imageshack.us/img246/3783/img16001od1.jpg
http://img246.imageshack.us/img246/4975/img15981zu3.jpg
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Roger wrote:

Of those you listed the only two I'd consider are varnish and shellac; however, you forgot lacquer. Specifically, Deft semi-gloss (can, not spray)...fast build, fast dry, easy sanding, easy repair, non-yellowing, looks good, wears well, no intrinsic color and "colors" wood less than most others. I'd remove all the shellac though else any finish will look spotty.
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"Roger"

Two things. First, sand completely and re-apply shellac or a nice lacquer, buff and wax. Second, toss the adult son out, make him get a job. :)
Dave
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Dave, my bad, I didn't word the original post correctly. It is for my adult son's house's bedroom. He just bought a house and now we're helping him furnish it, through a bit of flea marketing and sweat equity. Roger
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