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jshed

help with dark areas on vintage table

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Hi. I'm refinishing a vintage (1950s) table.  I've stripped the old finish off of it and been sanding it down and but i'm seeing the darker areas and I'm not sure how to proceed.  Any advice or information on what I'm seeing is appreciated.  

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Those areas were not noticable prior to stripping and sanding? If the former finish was dark, I would bet on that simply being old stain that penetrated the wood more. Keep sanding.

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Before you do any more sanding, make sure that is not veneer rather than solid wood. It doesn't take much to sand through thin veneer. It could be just a natural dark place in the wood. However, if you think it could be some kind of stain, you might try a wood bleach. Oxalic acid is a one part bleach that is inexpensive and easy to use. If that does nothing, you might try a two part bleach (sometimes referred to as A-B bleach). If it is veneer and the bleach doesn't work, you will need to use a toner (colored finish) to blend it in. Or, just leave it alone.

What did it look like before you started stripping it?

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It was a full body stain. Kinda of a dark gross green.  My feeling that this piece is solid wood.  It's very very heavy, it was made in the 50's by a sought after midcentury designer called T H Robsjohn.  I believe the wood is maple.   Could wood be burnt from sanding?  Is that a thing?  Thanks for all the looks. 

 

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50 minutes ago, jshed said:

It was a full body stain. Kinda of a dark gross green.  My feeling that this piece is solid wood.  It's very very heavy, it was made in the 50's by a sought after midcentury designer called T H Robsjohn.  I believe the wood is maple.   Could wood be burnt from sanding?  Is that a thing?  Thanks for all the looks. 

 

The weight of it is no indication whether it's solid wood or not. Probably not maple It looks ring porous, which maple is not. I would say it's veneer because it's on continuous piece across the width and it's rare to see anything made in the last century or so out of such wide boards.

Stain often penetrates veneer deeper than solid wood because of tiny checks & voids in the veneer that come from the cutting process. That may be the case with the staining you see. Until you can determine whether or not it's veneer, use extreme caution when sanding There will be no warning when you are about to sand through. One moment there is veneer, the next stroke of the sandpaper & you are through. The only answer then is to reveneer the entire top.

You probably don't want a dark color on the wood, but that may be the only practical solution. Find a dye/stain that will hide the dark areas.

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Thanks. Without drilling into it or continuing to sand I cannot first hand confirm solid/veneer however I am in contact with someone who refinished the same table and says it's solid wood.  Though maple was a guess.  He's not sure on species.  I know the company also worked in walnut.  

 

 

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Can the edge trim be removed? If so, you will be able to see the veneer edge if there is one.

Also, take a close look at the bottom. Sand it to bare wood if necessary. Does the wood grain and color look the same? It is common for veneered work to have veneer on both sides. However, the bottom may be of a different species or, may be a totally different grain pattern of the same species. If this is the case, you probably have veneer on the top. You might also use a small sharp chisel to "lift" a small sample on the bottom to check for veneer. If there is veneer on the bottom, there is veneer on the top.

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5 hours ago, drzaius said:

The weight of it is no indication whether it's solid wood or not. Probably not maple It looks ring porous, which maple is not. I would say it's veneer because it's on continuous piece across the width and it's rare to see anything made in the last century or so out of such wide boards.

Stain often penetrates veneer deeper than solid wood because of tiny checks & voids in the veneer that come from the cutting process. That may be the case with the staining you see. Until you can determine whether or not it's veneer, use extreme caution when sanding There will be no warning when you are about to sand through. One moment there is veneer, the next stroke of the sandpaper & you are through. The only answer then is to reveneer the entire top.

You probably don't want a dark color on the wood, but that may be the only practical solution. Find a dye/stain that will hide the dark areas.

Frank, I see three cathedrals across the width. This seems to indicate a panel of glued boards, or possibly still a veneer. What am I missing that made you say it looks like one board?

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4 hours ago, wtnhighlander said:

Frank, I see three cathedrals across the width. This seems to indicate a panel of glued boards, or possibly still a veneer. What am I missing that made you say it looks like one board?

You've got a good point. But I still think veneer. By carefully using sequential pieces the joints can disappear pretty easily. Not nearly as easy to do with solid wood.

Finding out whether or not it is will be important to the refinishing process, so doing as @Wimayo suggests is a good idea.

 

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Those marks strike a very strong resemblance to some stains I had on my hardwood oak floors that I just refinished.  I was able to get pretty good results by using hydrogen peroxide (ie. essentially bleaching like Wimayo suggested).  After applying very light coats I watched it for a few hours and checked back to make sure everything was ok.  Finished the floors with a waterborne finish and except for the darkest spots you would never know the stains were there to begin with. 

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You guys have been a great help.  Thank you.  I'll work through these suggestions.  Eventually with either get to the bottom of this, live with the darker spots or stain it darker to hide them I guess. 

 

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