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Vintage Mahogany Chest - repair or finish first???

2212 Views 8 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  SKlaus
Hey everyone, thanks for stopping in. I have a couple of questions…

I am in the process of refinishing a pre/post WWII chest of drawers made of mahogany, it's a manufactured piece from Kling if anyone recognizes the name… I believe out of Michigan… Like a lot of other furniture. I salvaged it from a Salvation Army and the finish was very badly damaged… Many dents, deep scratches, and chips… I decided to strip it being that I felt the finish was to far gone….

My question is, should I finish or repair first? I will be using Mohawk products… Here they are…

- Mohawk EZ fill with graining markers…
- Mohawk grain filler (mahogany)
- Mosers water/alcohol solvent dyes in dark cherry wine, or deep red mahogany.
- probably deft gloss lacquer and wax

The reason i ask this is I'm not sure that when I fill the dents with the fillers before I finish, that it will change color with the rest of the wood, making it stick out like a sore thumb… Or do I finish first, and then match the fillers to the finished color…

The other question I have is do I need to fill grain again.., the piece was hi gloss before… Looked like they one coated it which gave it a real smooth finish (under all the dings,dents, scratches)... When I stripped it, did it pull any grain filler out? Should I fill again? What order? Filler / dye or dye wash coat and then filler?

Thanks ahead of time for any wisdom out there…

1 - 9 of 9 Posts
If you have dents and the wood grain isn't broken or missing, you can often use a steam iron and steam the dents until they swell out then you can sand the piece and refinish as you normally would. This should be a good piece to try that on. I have used it a few times and it works well. Takes some time but this isn't a race is it? Patches usually look like …...well, patches.
I guess there is more than one way to skin the cat. Personally, I would remove the old finish first, try to repair as much damage as possible by sanding or steaming, then refinish.
Yes, and thats what I did. I removed the finish… the lower 2 photos. I just don't know which route to go now.. Should I …

In order…
1. Dye/stain
2. Fill grain
3. Finish
4. Repair

Or should I…

1. Repair
2. Dye/ stain
3. Fill grain
4. Repair

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Repair first. Your best chance of matching everything up is having the finished areas exposed to all the chemicals, stains and finishes with the old wood. I would have repaired even before I stripped it down. That's what we always did in my refinishing shop. Lots of times, the old finishes will melt into the new areas, giving them a patina closer to the old wood. You would be surprised how much blends in when you strip something that has had repairs.
But you are past that point, so repair as soon as you can, then maybe wash it with a tinted lacquer thinner before starting the finish. And yes, you will have to use grain filler if you want a mirror finish. The Deft will sand down nicely as you lay up coats, but you will find yourself using 1200 grit, and then a good swirl polish like Novus #2 or Megula's swirl remover will give the lacquer a high mirror gloss as a final polish. Use all cotton T-shirts, not those terry cloth towels they sell as rags, or you will scratch the final finish.
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I'm with charlie. I'd have to refinish and resand the whole enchilada.
Just what I was looking for…. Thanks so much for the help… I'll send pictures when it's done!!
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