antique oil finish help please


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I have a dining room table, in 3 pieces, the ends are from the 1860's the center addition was made around 1940. I am told they are cherry with mahogany stain. they have an oil rubbed finish. on rare occasions it has had wax polish such as pledge or briwax  but mostly just lemon oil. It had some dull dry spots and I was advised to use a mix of equal parts linseed oil, turpentine and vinegar to feed it. Now the table is sticky and attempts to rub it up make it dull and it is catching dust and lint in the sticky coating on the surface. the linseed oil mix is not very liquid and has "tracks" left from the cloth I applied it with. Those need to be gone to get back to the former deep shine.  I have been advised to let it dry for a week before touching it. Can I cover it with a dust cloth? Or will that imbed into the sticky finish? if I don't cover it won't the dust and ash ( we burn wood for heat...) imbed into the sticky layer anyway? Help ! both while it dries and then what to do after? 

dining room table.JPG2.JPG

dining room table.JPG

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Not sure what to tell you to do but they certainly told you wrong. Linseed oil on top of an old finish might take weeks to dry, but mixed with turpentine & vinegar is just wrong. If you used high quality artists turpentine with just the turpentine that might eventually dry. I would clean the mess off then research a proper approach. 

Most oil finishes take lots of time to dry and will collect dust and dirt if not kept in a clean place to dry. This is one of the reasons I use waterbourne finishes most of the time. I agree that in your situation an oil finish is appropriate, but you need one that will dry faster.

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Let me guess, you got your info from a DIY youtube? There's way more misinformation than information out there. As Steve said, you need to get that mess off. Polymerizing oil finishes, like boiled linseed oil, should only be used over bare wood or over previous oil coats, not over any kind of film forming finish. Even if the linseed oil eventually fully cures, it won't form a tough finish at all & it is sensitive to heat & moisture. Not a good finish for a table top.

Naptha would probably be the quickest thing to use to clean the surface, but be sure to test on an inconspicuous area. If the Naptha's too harsh then try mineral spirits. Get this done sooner rather than later because the linseed oil will get harder to remove as it cures. 

What's the value of the table? If it has value as an antique then it's probably best to take it to a pro who can get the top looking good without ruining its value as an antique.

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Not sure how to remove the mess but I can highly recommend Liberon furniture oil once to get it cleaned up.  I've been using Liberon Furniture oil almost exclusively for several years.  It's a bit expensive and takes some time but creates a beutiful finish where you can choose increments from a low luster all the way out to a high gloss.  To use it, flood the surface and let it sit for about 30 minutes.  The wipe it all off and let it cure overnight.  Repeat the process until you get the desired gloss/luster.  I find with Cherry, Walnut and Mahogany four or five coats gives my a really nice, reasonably durable finish.  I used it on a Cherry bed and headboard about 10 years ago and it still looks great.

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