I have an old cedar chest my mother received from my father in the
late 1940's and would like to refinish it.
It is veneered and inlayed and has several 'water rings' on the top
where someone sat glasses or cans and the condensation left its mark.
Any recommendations on handling this problem?? I want to remove the
old finish (shellac maybe), sand tenderly and refinish with a clear
I did the exact same thing for my father's cedar chest 2 years ago.
I like Formby's finish remover to do this as it is very gentle on the wood.
You use it with a pad of 000 steel wool, rubbing the finish off and rinsing
the steel wool pad in the Formby's solvent as you go. Be sure to use the
appropriate respirator mask with this stuff and do the work in a well
ventilated area. When most of the finish has been removed, go back and do it
over with fresh solvent to take off the remaining film of old finish. Let it
dry out for a few days before putting on any new finish. This will give you
time to gently sand the top to try to remove the rings. I then used a
wipe-on poly finish on mine, several coats, with light 0000 steel wool
rubbing between coats to finish it. Don't apply any finish to the inside of
the chest . If it doesn't have the desired cedar smell inside you can sand
the inside surfaces to remove a thin layer of wood and re-activate the cedar
smell that it should have.
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