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Refinishing table top of Eames Desk

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Forum topic by cuttooshort posted 03-04-2019 07:39 PM 308 views 0 times favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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cuttooshort

4 posts in 253 days


03-04-2019 07:39 PM

Topic tags/keywords: plywood stripping refinishing

I’d like to refinish the table top of an Eames Desk that is in a pretty bad shape in one spot. I was wondering what the best steps would be to remove the old finish?
What finish would work best to bring it back to its original look?

I’m concerned that sanding down the top might be problematic as the veneer seems to be very thin. Is a chemical stripper the best choice?

The first image shows the profile of the plywood and the 2nd image the actual table top


9 replies so far

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Rich

5001 posts in 1124 days


#1 posted 03-05-2019 06:03 PM

Are those whitish spots gouges? If so, how deep?

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cuttooshort

4 posts in 253 days


#2 posted 03-05-2019 06:18 PM



Are those whitish spots gouges? If so, how deep?

- Rich

Hi there,
yes they are, it’s the top layer that is damaged. I attached 2 pictures

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Rich

5001 posts in 1124 days


#3 posted 03-05-2019 06:55 PM

In this case that edge photo is really helpful since it shows how thin the top veneer is. Anything other than super fine sanding is out of the question. I’d carefully hand sand with the grain at 400 grit, being particularly careful around the edges. The idea is just to smooth off the surface.

If you have the equipment to spray, for a desk top I recommend something like Sher-Wood Hi-Bild pre-cat lacquer. If it will only get light use you can get by with their CAB acrylic. If you can’t spray, then a wiping varnish like Arm-R-Seal is a good choice. Even Minwax wipe on poly. Take your time and get a good build from multiple light coats.

Those gouges present a problem. I would use Mohawk hard fill on them. I’m guessing you don’t have the tools and materials to do that. If the desk will only be for display, you could get by with the putty stick type of fill, but it’ll wear right off if the desk gets much use. Of course, you’d do any fills before you do the top coat.

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cuttooshort

4 posts in 253 days


#4 posted 03-05-2019 06:58 PM

Thanks Rich, that is some really helpful advice.
Just wondering, what speaks against a chemical stripper to remove the bulk of the existing finish then just some super fine sandpaper to smooth it out?

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Lazyman

4080 posts in 1922 days


#5 posted 03-05-2019 07:03 PM

Any idea what caused it to be so bleached on the spot along the edge? Almost looks like it got wet? Is the veneer lifting there?

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

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cuttooshort

4 posts in 253 days


#6 posted 03-05-2019 07:09 PM


Any idea what caused it to be so bleached on the spot along the edge? Almost looks like it got wet? Is the veneer lifting there?

- Lazyman

I’m not sure, I assume the desk was used a lot. The veneer is not lifting. It just looks like as the finish got worn off.

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Rich

5001 posts in 1124 days


#7 posted 03-05-2019 07:18 PM


Any idea what caused it to be so bleached on the spot along the edge? Almost looks like it got wet? Is the veneer lifting there?

- Lazyman

Good catch. I assumed it was glare.

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Lazyman

4080 posts in 1922 days


#8 posted 03-05-2019 10:52 PM

Before you try to sand it. It might be worth a try to put some denatured alcohol on it. If it is shellac, DNA will dissolve it pretty quickly and you could have a much easier course of action. Not likely but especially on furniture made before about 1965 you might get lucky. Personally, when the veneer is that thin, I usually try a chemical stripper first just to reduce the chance of sanding through the veneer which looks pretty darn thin as is the finish itself. I have had pretty good luck with the citrus stripper you can get a home depot and lowes but I try not to use the harsher strippers. Others with more experience than I have may have even better options.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

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bilyo

868 posts in 1637 days


#9 posted 03-10-2019 07:32 PM

Eames is a well known name in the furniture world and Eames pieces tend to be on the pricey side. I would not do anything to this piece until I did some research to find out what the finish is and what the value of the desk might be.
More specifically, the grey area looks like sun and water damage. Even if you get the old finish off, I think it is likely that this area might require some light sanding to get the wood color back. Having said that, don’t do anything until you get some expert advice from someone who knows Eames furniture.

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