Buffet/bakers rack Find. Need suggestions

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Just acquired this wrought iron bakers rack over a buffet. It’s pretty beat up but a cool little piece. I was looking for suggestions on refinishing. I say refinishing but it seems pretty raw.  Pics are included plus I found a similar one online in ideal shape. I have experience in using wood dyes(general finishes) and urethane. No table equipment. Recently built a shed, carport, and remove carpet and stained my steps/refinished hand rails. No furniture projects until this one.












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I don’t think I could make it Look close to “new”. The edges are too beat up.  I was thinking possibly a distressed look with milk paint. I think the darker color would take away from the wrought iron. The distressed look would both take away from the current damage and add to the theme.
I’d be scared ‘just to clean it up a little’. I think I would go too far. 
The top does need some finish. I haven’t worked with shellac. I do have a spray gun but it is for water based paints/finishes. 
Im in no hurry to finish and will welcome all suggestions for a few weeks.



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15 hours ago, Coop said:

Dave, I think you have self made distress just like it is. Beautiful piece. I agree, separate the the metal from the wood and give the metal a good sanding and paint job. I’m not one on painting so the wood look is how I would go. Others, correct me me if I’m wrong but I think the wood just needs a drink. Lightly sand all surfaces or more aggressively where needed and apply a coat or two of diluted Tung oil, such as this.


I think a key takeaway from @Coop's advice here is to not overdo it (whether it's sanding or applying finish) on the wood portions of the piece if you want to retain its current patina but clean it up/preserve it for ongoing use. If you want an entirely different look (faux distressed milk paint or whatever) that's a whole different preparation schedule to pursue, and while not particularly difficult, a lot more work. I think you'd be quite happy following Coop's advice.

Since you're unfamiliar with shellac, know that it is a natural finish created from a beetle secretion that is used in all sorts of products. If you've enjoyed a shiny candy or taken medication that had a shiny shell, it's likely covered in shellac. It's used in certain kinds of nail polish, paints, primers, and all manner of other products. It's a remarkable material that can be manipulated and applied to woodworking projects with great success with just a little practice. Shellac's solvent is alcohol (denatured alcohol, or real Everclear) so you're likely able to use it just fine in your spray system. However, it doesn't need to be sprayed, and I wouldn't spray it the first time I used it were it up to me. Look up how to dilute shellac, make a very light batch (the literature will talk about "cuts" of different weights...which I will not explain here but understand that it is essentially a certain weight of shellac in a certain volume of alcohol), and wipe or brush on super thin coats. Give it a shot on a small project sometime...it's a big time go-to finish for lots of us. 

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