What old finish powders when wiped with Mineral Spirits?


Recommended Posts

I am cleaning up an old veneer headboard (from 1920's or 30's).  I wiped it down with a little Mineral Spirits to clean it up (it was dusty and had stuff on it from years of use and then storage) and evaluate the existing finish and the surface powdered.  I am wondering if it was a wax, but it did wipe off and the under finish is still there.  I need to make sure it is clean and then I need to make it ready to mount to the bed.  Any idea what could have powdered?



Link to comment
Share on other sites

I was hoping it was something like that, and that I had not ruined something..  Once I wiped the 'old wax dust" off it was noticeably duller, but I got a lot of dirt off.  So, once i have all the wax and dirt off, i should check for the underlying finish.  What are my choices for a new top coat?  Obviously I could do a paste wax and buff, but it is a headboard, so I'd like something durable.  I will check back with you once I figure out if its a shellac or a varnish and see what best option I have.



Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, Brendon_t said:

Be aware that in old pieces like that,  the veneer can be surprisingly thin.  I would address the removal of old finish slowly with a card scraper. 

Thanks.  Its age puts it past the "hand built" era but not so far in to the mass manufacture that the veneer on the three pieces I have, chest of drawers, dresser and headboard, got too thin.  I only want to clean it up the finish and then its being used.  The pieces *may* have been refinished before, I checked with the DNA drop and it did not do anything to the finish, after the mineral spirits pulled the wax off.  So, i need to get some lacquer thinner to test for that.  I attached some pics, of the three pieces.  The drawers and dresser have been cleaned up and used for years, the headboard has been stored.  Don't want to refinish as the three pieces match and I like that the yellowing matches.

Anyway, you can see some runs and such in the finish and I'd love to polich those down a bit if I can do it without screwing it up.  Still, step one is find out what finish I am looking at. 






  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

51 minutes ago, Mike. said:

It looks like it has been refinished, or at least top coated with something.  The dust nibs and runny finish are the clues.  I would guess someone put poly on it. Shellac and lacquer dry fast and usually don't get dust nibs (unless you are finishing it while someone is sanding five feet away).  

It is nice enough that I would pay to have it professionally refinished.  

It looks like the light wood (both the birdseye maple veneer AND the carcass),  was once darker on all three pieces.  There was once a nightstand as well, but that did not survive into the 1940's ( :-( ).  This was one of two sets of bedroom furniture my Granddad and Grandma had.  I remember it from my earliest days, the early 1970's.  :-)  Every time i see it i remember my Granddad and Grandma Deane.  The other piece that they had was a bow front walnut set with cabriolet legs....wish I had that too.

Anyway, I am not going to refinish it entirely at this point.  The headboard still has the holster wear on the left side where Granddad hung his Beretta 1935 he got at Western Auto as War surplus.  We still use it as our bedroom set, except for  the headboard that has been in storage.  If it does prove to be a poly, I suspect i will probably see if I can address the runs and nibs without changing the character of the piece.  If I can I will do that and maybe add a new top coat.  Will keep everyone posted once I test for lacquer and then poly.  

On another note, I still have the broken pulls and at least one that came from the lost nightstand.  Need to see how I can repair/replace those.  Does anyone recognize this style?  I really love the sunbursts and birds eye and the best part is actually a 4 panel book matched veneer on the bottom drawer front of the chest of drawers.  I will take a pic of it.  

Thanks for the input;  I am sure I will have more questions as I work this up.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Who's Online   3 Members, 0 Anonymous, 76 Guests (See full list)

  • Forum Statistics

    Total Topics
    Total Posts
  • Member Statistics

    Total Members
    Most Online
    Newest Member