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Thread: Help identify wood type on dresser....

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2018
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    Default Help identify wood type on dresser....

    I just purchased this dresser and at first, I thought someone had used different stains to get this affect, until I saw others on the internet with a similar appearance. I think it's a Flame Birch wood after my search on the internet but I'm far from knowing about wood types.

    I think this dresser doesn't have a sealer, and if it does, the wrong sealer was probably used over the stain because the finish looks like it had a reaction, it's a crinkly finish. I want to refinish it but I need to know what I'm doing so I don't ruin it.

    Could I use a 5" palm sander with 180 grit and see if the crinkly finish goes away and seal it?

    So, am I correct on the wood type and does anyone have an idea what era this is from?

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    Thanks,
    Ron
    Last edited by Preston1000; 09-30-2018 at 12:26 AM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
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    Alexandria VA
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    Default Re: Help identify wood type on dresser....

    That is flame birch and most likely a veneer as flame birch is too unstable to produce as solid wood. Most likely the finish is "crinkled" because it's an old lacquer finish and all lacquer will do that over time.

    You will ruin that piece and aggravate yourself using a palm sander. Don't do it. More furniture has been ruined over the years due to sanding than anything else I can think of. I have seen old antiques worth $ 30,000 reduced to $ 500 garage sale items due to Harry Homeowner refinishing/sanding.

    I suggest you live with it the way it is or take it to a professional to do. The lacquer has to be chemically stripped off it and re-applied, it's not an easy chore and you won't have the skills or tools to do it right (unless you have auto-body spray equipment in the garage). A good refinisher may be able to remove the old lacquer without getting into the color coat. Expect to pay $ 500 or more.

    Likely the piece is about 100 years old or so.

    If you want to do a simple, non-invasive deluxing of the piece do this:

    1) wipe the whole piece down in mineral spirits, this will remove all old wax and dirt

    2) get some # 0000 steel wool (super fine grade) and go over the piece with moderate pressure very evenly. This will level out scratches bu cutting the topcoat a bit and give it a little buff. Do not "scrub" with the steel wool or dig after one spot with it. Even pressure back and forth with the grain.

    3) apply a good coat of furniture paste wax to the piece and buff it off. It will look far better for an hour's worth of work on your part and $ 25 in materials.
    Last edited by drcollie; 09-30-2018 at 08:44 AM.
    Duane Collie
    Straight answers from thirty years in the business.
    My Private Messages are Disabled - Please ask questions here in the forum
    I ask that you do NOT call my store with general furniture questions, that is what the forum is for

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2018
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    3

    Default Re: Help identify wood type on dresser....

    Thank you Duane for helping me out and stopping me from destroying that dresser.

    I will take your advice and get the materials today and give it a try.

    I will post a few more pictures of the dresser in hopes of someone advising me on how to approach the top of the dresser and a few cracks.
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  4. #4
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    Columbus, OH
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    Default Re: Help identify wood type on dresser....

    The cracks in the second pic just look like the boards separating a tiny bit to me. Wax it up like Duane suggested and leave it alone is my advice.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Help identify wood type on dresser....

    Yes, that is lacquer-crazing it's to be expected on older pieces. Really old pieces have a shellac finish which doesn't do that.

    Lacquer finishes came into play when furniture began being made in factories as it was very fast to apply with excellent results - however it eventually breaks down over time. You may find it will eventually begin to flake off, that's when it starts looking bad and then I'd get it done by a pro on the restoration if you feel like putting money into it.
    Duane Collie
    Straight answers from thirty years in the business.
    My Private Messages are Disabled - Please ask questions here in the forum
    I ask that you do NOT call my store with general furniture questions, that is what the forum is for

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2018
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    3

    Default Re: Help identify wood type on dresser....

    Thanks so much for all the responses, it helps me understand which direction I need to go and couldn't do it right without the help.

    This weekend, I got the following materials as in the picture. I couldn't get mineral spirits or naphtha as it's no longer available in CA, hopefully, paint thinner will work as a substitute. The Restore a Finish is for another table I have but don't know if it could be used on the dresser and try to blend the lighter ringed areas on the top, or if there is something else to use that's better for the color blend, let me know.

    Obviously, I don't know the process except what has been mentioned above, if there are better products and techniques for fixing the top, please let me know.

    Thanks.

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  7. #7
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    Default Re: Help identify wood type on dresser....

    No on the paint thinner! That will soften the lacquer and leave you with a huge mess. The ring can’t be fixed, that’s a refinish job. The cracks are fine, all antiques have them, leave them be they show authenticity.
    Duane Collie
    Straight answers from thirty years in the business.
    My Private Messages are Disabled - Please ask questions here in the forum
    I ask that you do NOT call my store with general furniture questions, that is what the forum is for

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