Real wooden furniture are almost rare these days. If we buy ‘reasonably priced’ furniture, we may as well buy food for termites. One wooden ironing board met its rickety demise two years after it was bought and literally soaked with dieselene. Trini termites don’t make joke!
In the old days we used to hear of wood like Cedar, Teak, Pitch-Pine, Mahogany, Purple Heart, and ‘Water Kay’. Now I will not be getting into the story of the various types of fantastic wood that grows right here in Trinidad and Tobago, their history and so on. However I can sum up the quality of our wood in two words: Morris Chairs. Now the conversation can start!
Sanding old wooden furniture is the first step to restoration. The key is not make the furniture ‘look’ new again, because antiques get their value from looking ‘distressed’ or used.
The wooden table in the pic was given as a gift, so the type of wood is unknown. As you can see, the sanding process is quite light. First coarse sandpaper was used to remove years of varnish that caused the table to look very dark. A sanding block was not used, neither a sanding machine, the process was done entirely by hand. Finally, a very fine grade sandpaper was used to ‘finish’. It will do you well to remember to sand with the grain of the wood, not ‘against’ it or cris-crossing it. You can use a piece of wood with the sandpaper folded around it to sand those hard-to-reach places.
For the varnishing part, a clear water-based urethane, was used to give the furniture some shine. It dries clear and quick, and also shows the wood color and grain nicely. Plus it is quite easy to care for, just use a soft, dry-damp cloth to wipe. The table was cleaned of sand particles with a soft dry cloth, so that the it will not be scratched in the process. Then the water-based urethane was applied with another soft cloth one dip at a time by hand. Make sure and sand with the grain. Two coats were applied, with drying allowances between them.
The entire process took two and a half hours, from the sanding to the varnishing. The goal was not to change the entire look of the wood, but to remove the old varnish. The top coat was allowed to dry for two hours after. In the end you did a project on which you saved money, by Doing-it-Yourself.
2010© Lisa Marie Bonaparte