Black dots on cherry finish

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Forum topic by Chainjack posted 08-05-2014 03:02 PM 14096 views 0 times favorited 13 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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35 posts in 2734 days

08-05-2014 03:02 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question

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?

13 replies so far

View chrisstef's profile


18098 posts in 3806 days

#1 posted 08-05-2014 03:23 PM

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!

-- Its not a crack, its a casting imperfection.

View BinghamtonEd's profile


2298 posts in 3169 days

#2 posted 08-05-2014 04:48 PM

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.

-- - The mightiest oak in the forest is just a little nut that held its ground.

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

6301 posts in 3293 days

#3 posted 08-05-2014 04:53 PM

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…...

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View chrisstef's profile


18098 posts in 3806 days

#4 posted 08-05-2014 05:05 PM

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.

-- Its not a crack, its a casting imperfection.

View ajosephg's profile


1887 posts in 4361 days

#5 posted 08-05-2014 05:10 PM

I think they did that to make the piece look older. I’ve noticed it is common on most inexpensive furniture, and is still being done today.

-- Joe

View UpstateNYdude's profile


947 posts in 2783 days

#6 posted 08-05-2014 05:23 PM

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.

-- Nick, “I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it.” – Vincent Van Gogh

View Chainjack's profile


35 posts in 2734 days

#7 posted 08-05-2014 05:32 PM

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.

View Underdog's profile


1512 posts in 2835 days

#8 posted 08-05-2014 05:44 PM

Usually it’s a finishing guy who is “antiquing” the piece. They use a toothbrush and some black paint to “flyspeck” the finish.

-- Jim, Georgia, USA

View Earlextech's profile


1162 posts in 3490 days

#9 posted 08-05-2014 05:58 PM

“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.

-- Sam Hamory - The project is never finished until its "Finished"!

View Chainjack's profile


35 posts in 2734 days

#10 posted 08-05-2014 06:32 PM

You guys are awesome. Not even Google knew what the heck I was talking about.

View AnonymousRequest's profile


861 posts in 2349 days

#11 posted 08-05-2014 06:35 PM

I’ve seen this years ago when I refinished furniture. I thought the same thing as chrisstef, possibly splattered ink. LOL

View ChefHDAN's profile


1695 posts in 3649 days

#12 posted 08-05-2014 08:23 PM

+1 brush speckle

-- I've decided 1 mistake is really 2 opportunities to learn.. learn how to fix it... and learn how to not repeat it

View ratkisd's profile


1 post in 1739 days

#13 posted 10-31-2015 06:06 AM

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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