Saturday, October 22, 2011

Refinishing the woodwork Part 1

I mentioned in a previous blog that while at an opening reception for a restored room at a local historic home, I started discussing my DIY work on the Tiny Bungalow with a wood restoration expert.  Earlier this week, the gentleman I was writing about, Jeff Ediger of Oak Brothers, wrote me a description of what he would recommend for restoring my woodwork.  It was eye opening.  He treated this subject with such a particular and detailed point of view, I figured it was well worth taking his advice.

My intent is to end up with woodwork that is a close approximation of what might have been in the home originally.  Without going through the painstaking effort of restoring the original shellac, I am going to do something a little different but hopefully just as beautiful.  

Jeff's first recommendation was to get the wood as clean as possible.  His directions were very specific: the brand of denatured alcohol, the brand of brass brushes and even the brand of paper towels.  "They must be Bounty".  I like how this guy thinks and it is not unlike my own way of dealing with my design detailing, my cooking, and my selection of beer.   I completely understand that when someone with this level of knowledge presents "the only way" to do something, it is probably best to follow every detail.    
After assembling the supplies, I began by applying the denatured alcohol to the wood and brushing it to remove any remaining shellac.  Jeff mentioned that this helps to remove some of the original analine dye that was originally applied to the wood almost 100 years ago also.  When I did this, some of the residue wiped off with a paper towel but a lot of it also fell off, in crumbs onto the floor. 
I've spent about three hours so far and have only completed two baseboards but there is a noticeable improvement.  The result is a more homogeneous finish and no more "shiny spots" where the PO didn't complete the shellac removal.  There are still a lot of small dents and imperfections in the wood but since the pieces have the wear and tear of 100 years on them, I guess that's to be expected.   
I am going to spend the next day continuing this process.  I am also going to take a step that Jeff did not suggest but that I figure may help.  I am going to go over everything once more with some steel wool soaked in denatured alcohol.  I think this will help as a final cleaning before I begin the staining.  I will feature the next step (staining) in a subsequent blog.  


anne said...

After doing this, is the wood now in a state that REQUIRES staining? We have great original woodwork in our Berwyn bungalow (hi neighbor!) use a deep clean, but I'm not interested in keeping a super active 9-month-old away from freshly stained wood.

Chris said...

Yes, the next two steps are the stain and the finish. At the rate the cleaning is going, I won't get to the stain for a couple days. I don't know what you would do with a child durning this. Lucky ours is a bit older and we don't have to worry about her too much.