Help IDing wood from a table

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Forum topic by jonk1984 posted 11-26-2015 02:02 AM 894 views 0 times favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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5 posts in 1366 days

11-26-2015 02:02 AM

A friend up mine gave me a desk with a really ugly looking coat of paint. The desk itself was really sturdy, so i figured I’d just strip the paint off and refinish it, but as I removed each layer of paint… i discovered it was made of a really beautiful wood. I sanded it down, and it’s looking really nice now, but my goal is to fully restore this desk to it’s original beauty and put a nice protective coat of polyurethane on it.

I unfortunately have no idea what kind of wood i’m working with and i was hoping one of your guys could help me with the identification process. I’d just like to know what I’m working with before I get too much further in the restoration.

Thanks so much!

The pics:

6 replies so far

View TheFridge's profile


10859 posts in 1938 days

#1 posted 11-26-2015 02:08 AM

Though I doubt it’s what it is. it looks kinda like Spanish cedar to me.

-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

View bondogaposis's profile


5492 posts in 2804 days

#2 posted 11-26-2015 02:12 AM

Looks like bookmatched veneers, plywood? Kind has the look of Luan.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View jonk1984's profile


5 posts in 1366 days

#3 posted 11-26-2015 05:28 AM

I think it is veneered… but I don’t think it’s plywood. The top board seems really solid, and there are no plywood “layers” that I can detect.

How does veneering work exactly? There is basically no space gap between the joined edges, and if it wasn’t for the grain pattern I wouldn’t be able to tell that it was veneered.

View jerryminer's profile


960 posts in 1894 days

#4 posted 11-26-2015 07:33 AM

Could be lumber core rather than “plywood” but that sure looks like book-matched veneer. Even looks rotary cut.

I agree with Bondo that it looks like lauan.

-- Jerry, making sawdust professionally since 1976

View JohnStevens's profile


22 posts in 3410 days

#5 posted 11-26-2015 07:50 AM

Could be luan. But, more likely mahogany. Depends on how old the desk it. The older it is, the more likely it’s mahogany. You got a good score! Always interesting to see what is revealed below paint. Also makes you wonder why someone would paint over such nice grain… Hmmm

-- "I'll show you my tenon if you show me your mortise!"

View jonk1984's profile


5 posts in 1366 days

#6 posted 11-27-2015 06:45 PM

Yeah I thought the same thing! As I scraped off the paint I was like… who paints over a grain like this?

In terms of age, the person who gave it to me said he had the desk for 30 years, and the desk was given to him by someone else who had it for a while. So I would say the desk is at least 40+ years old. Is there any way I could test for sure if it’s mahogany (like send in a sample of sawdust)?

Please forgive the newbie questions… I am new to woodworking… but if it is veneered does that mean that it’s just a very thin layer of wood on top, and plywood underneath? If that’s the case I’m a little scared of sanding it down any further. Also what would you guys recommend I do to restore it? Should I stain it before polyurethane? Or should I just put a coat of polyurethane on it? Also, I need to get some cabinet pulls and I’d like to invest in some nice ones. Any recommendations for where to buy some quality cabinet pulls from?

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