I have bought a new cheap table. I don't like the appearance of it much
(it's pale off-yellow which is fine, but the actual finish looks "thin"
How can I improve it's general overall appearance? I am a newbie with
wood, so I don't know what options may be available to me. Would it be
a stain, or a varnish, etc?
Thank you, regards, dnw.
Hard to answer without knowing the purpose of the table, the size, and the
type of wood, for starters.
Depending on what you want to do to it, it might beg the question of why you
didn't spend more money for something more to your liking than buying
something you didn't like and then putting additional money and time into
Purpose of table: just general use.
Size: 5 foot long - desk size.
Type of wood: I'm not sure, but here it is:
I'm stuck with it now, so any suggestions please. Thanks.
Ah. It's made from Solid wood. Solid wood is something of a problem to
finish, and it's doubtful you'll you'll have much luck.
Related to the Jummy tree, the Solid tree produces wood of variable
grain, hardness, finishing characteristics and price.
In general, if you've purchased a piece of furniture made from Solid
wood, you are best leaving the finish as purchased, or using the
"complete heat reduction" treatment.
Hope that helps.
~ Stay Calm... Be Brave... Wait for the Signs ~
Based on the amount of information available, I'd go with a tablecloth.
Short of that, perhaps a nice coat of wax buffed out would make it more
There is the ever popular "Distressed Look". Do you have a long staircase?
Haha, no, I don't - at least, I *think* I know what you are implying!
I found this on the net, and thought I might give it a try..
There seem to be 3 shades available - I think I need the lightest
shade, which I think could be "Golden Brown"
Well, there's also the clear, which you could try if you want to leave the
color as-is. Any of the three shades would give you something along the
lines of a toned finish. The nice thing about the wax is if you don't like
the shade, you can always try another one.
It will be hard to proceed if you don't know what finish it has now. I
don't know of anyone who can say with confidence what a random piece of
budget furniture has for a finish. I can tell you what a hobbyist like
most of us or a custom furniture maker might use, but that may not be
much use for a mass produced factory piece. It matters because you
can't put just anything on top of the old finish, and I doubt that you
want to strip it. I could give you a long answer instructing you to try
a variety of solvents on the finish to see how they effect it, but that
won't tell you with certainty what it is, and you probably don't want
the expense or bother. I don't think there is much you can do without
taking a serious risk of making a mess. You can try to see if shellac
sticks to the finish you already have. If it does, you can build up the
finish with more shellac, or use a base coat of shellac and put
something else on top of it. But even if the shellac does seem to stick
at first, that is no guarantee that it won't peel off at some point down
the road. I recommend you leave it, use it, and save your money for a
better table somewhere down the road. Or cover it with a table cloth.
I'm not altogether sure that it is rubberwood actually. It looks
cheap, whatever it is exactly. The coating given to the table is thin,
and shows the rubbishy grain underneath, which is the thing that
bothers me the most. If the coating was thicker, I'd be quite happy
with it. I think.
IMHO that's the safest bet. Find a good carnuba/beeswax combo with perhaps
a little stain, apply and use a lot of elbow grease.
Repeat several dozen times until you've built up a colour you're happy with.
The odds are still high that the final coat will be made of linen though.
On 18 Jun 2005 12:40:25 -0700, firstname.lastname@example.org wrote:
Paraffin and matches.
_Why_ did you buy a table from Argos ?
And why did you pay 80 quid for it ?
Come past the stall, see some of my tables. Then watch the queue of
people complaining about the price (which for the small side tables on
display, is about the same as yours). Except mine are individually
hand-made locally, from locally felled oak, with full traditional
joinery and hand-finished with traditional materials. Good for a hundred
years or so, then with a bit of refinishing they'll do for another
couple of centuries.
In the kitchen I can't move for a spare table I don't have room for (but
was given). Lovely 1920's oak expandable dining table. Nicely made, good
condition after I re-finished it, and I can't give it away. Cruise the
better S/H shops and you could have your own.
Anyway, you went to Argos.
Our balance of payments is now in the red by another 80 quid, much of
that was spent on worldwide shipping and diesel fuel and yet more local
furnituremakers are unemployed. And you have a table you don't even
What you've got is probably rubberwood (we hope), which is narrow strips
of old worn-out rubber trees machined up and glued together. A boring
timber, but it's workmanlike and it's very good on sustainability. Then
the finish is one coat of a sprayed lacquer, chosen because it's quickly
applied and quickly dried.
The downside of this is that the timber's pale, a bit bland, and the
finish is hard to work with. You can't put things over it, you can't get
it down to the bare wood easily.
First rule of finishing - if you aren't experimenting on scrap, you're
experimenting on the real project ! In this case, you should at least
try finish samples out somewhere invisible first, like underneath the
The finishing problem you're going to get with this table is that it's
already coated in a hard and impermeable lacquer. These modern lacquers
are tough ! You'll not shift it. Nor will waxes, dyes or stains work
through it - they want to be applied to bare timber. Your choice of
Chestnut wax was a good idea, but it's just not going to work on
ready-finished timber, especially for a coloured wax. Some people (the
"naughty pine" trade) also prefer Briwax to Liberon or Chestnut -
there's more and different solvent in it, so it's quicker and easier to
You can of course wax your table. You can even use things like 0000
grade wire wool to dull it, then wax polishes to restore an attractive
semi-matt finish. However you can't apply a thick enough wax costing to
work well with a _coloured_ wax.
So what you're pretty much left with is a "glaze". This is a coloured
varnish, applied over the top of the existing lacquer. Because it's
coloured, it's even more important that the aplication is even and
consistent thickness - thicker coats will give darker colours, and
uneven coats will look obvious. As always, applying more thin coats is
better than a single thick one.
The likely varnish to use is a polyurethane varnish - it always is these
days. These aren't the best finishes in the world (they can look a
little "plasticy" if over-used), but they're easy to find.
I'd always go for a "wiped" varnish finish rather than brushing it, if I
were using polyurethane. This gives a thinner and more even coating.
Search the newsgroups for details, but it's basically standard poly
thinned with white spirit (try the ratios, but start at around 50:50)
and wiped on with a clean cotton rag (old cotton formal shirts, or
decorator's scrim). Some people favour adding a little oil (tung or
linseed) to the mix. It _must_ be mixed really well before applying !
If I wanted a thin varnish for brush application, I'd use a water-based
acrylic varnish. .
Before applying the varnish, rub the surface down lightly with 00 wire
wool first. This isn't to remove the old finish, it's to give a better
key on the surface.
Check that any finish you use is compatible with the old lacquer, by
trying it on an invisible spot, then waiting a few days and watching for
crazing or wrinkling.
Cats have nine lives, which is why they rarely post to Usenet.
I like the idea of not having to visit shops to buy things. A couple of
mouse clicks, and it arrived within a week. In this case, I was
disappointed with the product, but I would say 2/3rds of the time, I am
happy with these types of purchases. (I could have returned it, but
decided too late that I didn't like it.)
I don't think the price was excessive, but I think it didn't represent
good value for money.
I will follow your advice in your post: I would like to try the
water-based acrylic varnish. The product you spotted (thanks for the
link) says it is safe, quick and easy - my kind of product!
Thanks, regards, dnw.
Andy Dingley wrote:
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