Mahogany refinish


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I’ve got to tell the story in order to ask my question or I don’t think I’ll make much sense.

My wife purchased some furniture from an importer of mahogany furniture. (All from Indonesia supposedly. Even has stickers!) At the time she loved the color. Now we’re in a new house with new colors and the mahogany red no longer works for her. She wants to paint it (like she’s seen on bootube with all the other restorer’s). I’ve convinced her not to paint this real wood regardless of questionable construction.

First she tried to strip it with oven cleaner, then citrus stripper, then scraping (small nesting table), then sanding (medium nesting table). Large table is original. Then we found a minwax product that works pretty well "antique furniture refinisher". It really dissolves the "stuff". (I don’t even know what it is. It took about 5 years to off gas. Smelled like gas/oil nastiness.) But it leaves the wood still a bit orange not the brown she was hoping for. Bed side boards I’ve worked on the most.

My question is how can we get these brown-ish? Oh, and should I be concerned with construction improvements? It’s starting to crack and separating around panels.

Thanks for the help! And for saving these from some shabby chic nightmare.

And this is written in a number of places. Is it a familiar code? (Don’t mind the pine 1x’s. They are the cross brace replacements. Original’s twisted and squeaked





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No idea about the code. I'm not the local finishing expert, but I have my doubts about being able to hide that orange tint without judicious application of a coloring agent. A light application of green dye might shift it to a medium brown, but don't take my word on it. Hopefully those more experienced with that sort of thing will chime in soon.

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I am partial to wiping formulations of oil-based polyurathane finishes. They tend to add an amber tint, so if you reach a pleasing color, it may be advisable to use a water bourne finish, which will have much less effect on the color.

My current favorites are Minwax Tung Oil Finish, or General Finishes High Performance.

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That wood looks like it's in the Mahogany family, it's likely one of the species from Asia, which is good you got what was promised. The main consideration with Mahogany is that the color will get darker, much darker, over time. A good easy way to change the color is to give the wood some good sun exposure and see where that leads you. It might take a few days of exposure or more.

If that isn't enough dye is likely your best bet to get a color you want. Consult a color wheel and finishing expert to get the color that will meld with the orange to get what you want. Keep in mind Mahogany is Mahogany colored and you can only fight it so far. If you are trying to turn these into walnut color, you can try but you'll never match the natural purple and read variations in walnut.

Also keep in mind that wood is a natural product and color will vary within the same board let alone the same tree. If you are expecting perfect even color a natural product is not what you are looking for and paint may be the best option.

The wood is likely cracking because it was made in an environment hat was humid and moved to a drier one. Try and use glue to close the gaps. CA glue, or super glue, can work wonders in these situations. Some glue may get on the surrounding wood, just sand it back prior to finishing. You must be careful here if you are going to add dyes because glue will block dye absorption and color issues may occur.

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Thanks Chestnut!

Sun exposure, eh? Hummm. I can do that! I want to get it all out of the garage anyway. Now I have an excuse! lol

The variations of color and texture in this is crazy. Often looks like 4 different species glued together. I’ll post some more pictures. And I don’t want to become deranged dye obsessed. Was hoping for a simple wipe on or buff just to cut down the orange. Personally I’m digging the natural. - It’s all the wife’s fault; I swear! 






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You might be able to wiggle that panel up so that it closes the gap. tread carefully and be gentle. To hold it up I'd use a small nail or pin in the center on the back side. only 1 per side as you don't want to trap the panel as the wood will continue to move and crack further or create other issues.

OH! most important. Test your color or any finish applications on an underside or the back or someplace not visible. Worst case test on a large flat area that you can easily sand or remove any coloring.

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You might want to consider a pigment stain rather than a dye stain.  For example Bartley Gel stain.  These products will lay pigment onto the wood surface rather than penetrate into it.  They tend to mute the grain pattern, but that is less of a problem with a wood like this that does not have a lot of grain variation, anyway (and your wife was going to paint them).  They do allow for more control over the color and more uniformity.  The Bartley product is pudding thick and very easy to apply.  General Finishes has gels, but I haven't really used them.  But like Chestnut said, you can't make mahogany something it's not.

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