Refinishing this large antique


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A friend of mine runs a local store and bought this display case for his front counter. The seller said it was from about 1900 or so, but I doubt it is that old. Regardless, my friend wants to refinish it, and I would like to offer him some advice. Also, any chance of IDing the wood species? Mahogany, perhaps? Its a walnut colour, but it does not have the characteristic grain pattern of walnut.

Thanks fellas!




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Ok, I guess my photos were not up to snuff! I'll get him to take some better ones and forward them to me. I took those with my phone camera, so not so good.

The finish is peeling, and I am assuming removing it will be the only route to a decent restoration. He is looking for simple, so I am thinking remove the old finish and maybe a few coats of OSMO top oil. The old finish may contain lead, due to its age, so that is a concern.

I've got Flexner's book and have read it many times. I'm going to take another look through it to see if I can get some more info.

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3 hours ago, Tpt life said:

That’s almost certainly veneer. If it is damaged, you may want to start looking into veneer repair and replacement techniques. 

FWIW has a $10 webinar tomorrow on the subject. I have been attending this series and have picked up a few good tips/tricks

Veneer Me Crazy! -  #6 Repairs and Touch Up


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I have never thought about lead in clear finishes but it appears that you are correct. I'd make sure to take precautions if you are sanding. That said the levels are probably low and beign careful and wearing a P100 rated respirator would keep you protected.

As to the wood. It really looks like wood.... It's probably not maple or pine. It's also probably not cherry.

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