I refinished a maple end table we bought from Ethan Allen a few years ago.
I just did the top because that's were it needed it most. I stripped off
all the layers of lacquer and used a dye to match the old stain. Wow! I
never knew how awesome this wood grain really was.
I think Ethan Allen used a lacquered glaze with very little stain actually
in the wood. It was like layers of 'paint'. You can see the grain MUCH
better now. I liked how it turned out so much that I re did another end
table already with the same results.
I might do our coffee table next. Or maybe I will wait on that one when the
kids are older? :)
I matched a EA Cherry piece a couple years ago and studied their finishing.
It was a thin paint over perfectly nice cherry. There was no stain or dye
It baffles me why they wasted cherry when you can't tell what is under the
I tried to pursuade the customer to let me strip the first piece and then
finish both of them properly, but he like the EA. Go figure.
Just my opinion here... no panty wadding about the sanctity of cherry,
I would think that EA's factories choose cherry for two reasons. 1)
Large amounts of affordable, straight consistent grained veneers are
available. This ensures consistency of product when manufacturing. 2)
The wood is stable, machines, sands and glues well with no exotic
tooling. All about manufacturing. If bunga bunga* was appealing and
available with the same qualities I am sure they would switch as needed
between the two.
*(BTW, bunga bunga was actually invented by me to describe all the
mountains of exotic woods that we have now with 42 different names of
each species. How the hell do we know FOR SURE exactly what we are
getting? I have found that he more exotic the name the more expensive
the wood. I think I have all the bunga bunga in my shop ((formerly
Curly Eyed Hondurapeen Cocowengaba)), but they may have some at
So why do they load the crap on for finish at EA or any of the other
furniture peddlars? Easy enough, when you ask the question you usually
provide your own answer. The thicker, more opaque the finish is the
more easily they can turn out matching pieces in a furniture set. So
if the batch of veneers they got several months ago to build tables was
a little pink, then it will still match the chairs made in another
factory where the cherry was a little brown with almost no pink.
Well EA will use secondary woods for lower visibility areas like
everybody else. But I'd guess you're essentially right though -- if,
for example, the grain/color didn't work out on the pre-finish
inspection, only thing left to do is paint it.
Most manufacturers use wood that most of us would skip over in their
products. Then they use a paint or very thick/dark stain to cover up the
inconsistencies in wood grain, color, and quality.
Very seldom do you see name brand furniture that clearly shows the grain and
has consistent coloring.
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