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Refinishing Ice Box

4768 Views 2 Replies 2 Participants Last post by  jwith
I have, what I believe to be, an old ice box. This has been sitting in a basement for over 30 years and had some water damage from a previous flood. I'm working to restore/refinish it.

I would like to restore the finish to nearly the original finish. I have refinished other furniture in the past using dark rich mahogany stains with semi-gloss polyurethane, with pretty decent success. I think this piece might look funny in a dark color, specifically I haven't seen any ice boxes in dark rich colors.

I'm not concerned about restoring the furniture to keep its value, if it has any. It has been in the family and it is more of a sentimental piece.

Does anyone recognize the finish? Is it stained and then a clear coat applied, or is it the clear coat that gives the wood the honey/amber look? I thought it might be shellac with amber tint, but denatured alcohol doesn't seem to dissolve it, at least not in my quick test. Lacquer thinner seemed to do even less.

What is the wood type? I'd like to make a new top piece. It appears that the piece may have had a hutch on top at one time. I was thinking maybe maple or mahogany.

I know the unit is at least 50 years old. It may have been refinished in the 50's, as my grandfather often bought antiques and refinished them.

Here are some images:

Wood Fixture Floor Wood stain Flooring

This is the front of ice box. I took off one of the doors and took out the drawers to get to a couple of screws holding the front on.

Wood Fixture Wood stain Floor Hardwood

Close up on the front.

Brown Amber Wood Rectangle Flooring

See grain on the inside door.

Brown Wood Flooring Floor Wood stain

See grain on the door frame

Brown Wood Wood stain Floor Hardwood

See peeling finish on the inside of the door frame.

Automotive lighting Amber Wood Automotive exterior Vehicle door

See cracking on the finish. The entire unit looks like this, except the inside of the doors which look like no finish was added.

Thanks for the help.


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I would use a liquid stripper dipped in 0000 steel wool to remove what's there and use a couple coats of clear shellac and wax. If you use sandpaper you'll kill all the character. It looks like maple to me. If there wasn't any type of metal inside or drip tray or drains then it isn't an icebox, just a Hoosier type of storage cabinet.
Thanks dhazelton. It must be a Hoosier storage cabinet. I will try your suggestion. I don't know if you see in the picture, but the bottom of cabinet is worn down to the wood. I believe this is due to water damage. Is there anyway to fix this to match the rest of the cabinet without having to to strip and refinish the entire cabinet?
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