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My mother has a neat table from the 1950s that needs to be refinished. The original finish has these tiny black dots all over it. Just wondering whether these are from age, the wood, or if someone spilled something at some point. If these dots were part of the finish originally, how did they do it?

Brown Wood Rectangle Flooring Hardwood


Brown Wood Flooring Floor Wood stain


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Our conference table in the office has the exact same black dots and ive wondered the same question myself. All though the table here is a burl veneer of some sort. I always thought it looked like splattered ink. Ill be watching for answers!
 

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I've seen older piece, I don't remember where, that had the same dots, but this was before I was into woodworking and didn't think about why, so now I'm intrigued. A few google results say that the black specks indicate water damage where water has penetrated the finish and into the wood below. Don't know if that's the case here.
 

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You guys will think I'm nuts, but I've seen that before and always though it was part of the original finish! Guess I don't get out enough…...
 

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Fred - I too think its part of the original finish but ive got no idea as to what it is or how it was created.

Here's a pic of the table in the office. Its a bad cell phone picture but you can see al the black dots.
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Could be a tannic reaction from someone using steel wool and then a water based finish, or if it got to damp some woods have very high tannin counts and cause that exact problem.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks for the replies. I think Joe is right, they did it deliberately to make the piece look older since the dots are on the legs as well. The top is cherry veneer so it's clearly not an expensive table. The neat thing about it is that it can be raised and lowered with no effort because of a tension spring.
 

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"Flyspeck" is exactly right and it's a finishing technique that helps blend the color. Go to any "fine" furniture store and look closely, you'll see this everywhere.
 

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Brown Cabinetry Property Furniture Drawer


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I am looking at a hutch for sale(picture only) that the seller says is solid wood. The top of the bottom part has these dots. I have seen them many times but only on veneer surfaces. I have quite a few antiques, all solid wood and none of the different types of wood have these dots. I researched this piece and it is by Drew Furniture who joined with American Furniture in the seventies and became American Drew Furniture. She did not answer me about the drawers being dovetailed and from the picture I think there is overrun of the stain on the front edge of the drawers where it meets the front of the drawer. The inside of the drawers don't look like cherry to me either. Any thoughts? She is asking four with the two big gouges and now with the veneer, I don't think I am interested for anything over $250.00.
 

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very interesting. I am far from an expert. i found this site by asking a question about these speckles. i never thought that they may be artificial. i think i will try some paint stripper on a hidden spot and see if they come off with the finish.
 

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Just chiming in to say that I found this thread because I also have American Drew furniture - two heavy, solid wood end tables. They both have significant speckling and I had no idea what it was. Sounds like it was a technique that Drew used on their solid wood furniture at least during a certain period.
 

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Thanks for the replies. I think Joe is right, they did it deliberately to make the piece look older since the dots are on the legs as well. The top is cherry veneer so it s clearly not an expensive table. The neat thing about it is that it can be raised and lowered with no effort because of a tension spring.

- Chainjack
Just a side note: Don't assume that it is a cheap table because it has a veneer top. A lot of very fine furniture has been made using veneers. Some veneers are rare species and very expensive. I'm not suggesting that yours is one of those. Just saying that veneer is not an indicator of low quality.

It is good that you know that it is veneer. When you refinish, be sure to use a chemical stripper. Do not try to sand the old finish off. You can quickly sand through the veneer.
 
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