Tiger Oak


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Old 03-26-08, 10:44 AM
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Tiger Oak

I have come across a couple pieces of what I am told is Tiger Oak; one is a sideboard - fairly small as compared to others I've seen and the other is a rocker that is also small w/ a broken rocker. I don't know how old these peices are, but I am inclined to believe they are early 1900's? These two pieces have been neglected and are in a vacant house (vacant about 1 year). The pieces are starting to show signs of mildew, but all in all SEEM at first glance to be sturdy. Long story short, how do i clean these pieces and if necessary, re-stain and protect. Basically, I don't have a clue where to start. Help!
 
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Old 03-26-08, 02:18 PM
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I would start by cleaning them, then decide what to do next. Spic n Span or Murphy's will clean the dirt and mildew off. You may be pleased with the result and decide not to refinish these peices.
 
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Old 03-26-08, 03:26 PM
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That's lovely wood and definitely worth restoring. Sweet!

The "tiger" is simply how oak grain appears when cut quartersawn, which besides being a wasteful sawmill practice very rare today, is pretty, and, yields boards which suffer almost no expansion problems common to plainsawn boards. This furniture was built to last, and it has!

First of all, get the furniture inside where it can dry out and stabilize. After a week or so, try the furniture for problems - sticky/floppy drawers, creaky joints, etc. All this can be repaired.

This stuff deserves to be restored in the same spirit it was built in. Perfect. Immortal. We want another 100 years at least, right? So we use the best varnish available. In my opinion that is old-skool stinky polyurethane... many would argue "think Green today" and urge a less durable, nontoxic finish... your call. You can decide later, after hours of careful restoration and embarrassing intimacy with these fine pieces.



Both should be stripped clean down to bare wood, the stain scoured out, even sanded heavily wherever wood is badly chewed.

The sideboard should not be disassembled, besides taking off the hardware and maybe some loose ornament. The rocker needs to be completely broken down, for ease of refinishing, and also to get a mirror duplicate made of that broken rocker. You'll want to re-glue all the joints so trust me complete disassembly's the way to go.

Unless the rocker was repaired, the joints contain original animal-based glues. Not very strong compared to modern glue but great for the restorer because this furniture will pop apart with careful, cushioned hammering. Beware of buried finishing nails in the joints though. These don't belong and are a major PITA. I hope you don't get any. Mark all parts (part #, orientation) where the inscription won't be sanded off (inside the joint).

You'll find the messy chore of chemical stripping much easier with everything apart. Sanding's easier too - just don't sand the insides of joints so much you alter their dimensions.

The sideboard could take awhile. Like, with a toothbrush, awhile. What takes the most time is getting all the old varnish and stain (gummy gunk, once stripper is applied) ...coaxing this out of crevices is the real time killer. Think about the great-great grandchildren wanting that sideboard and getting it. They'll read your name printed on the bottom.



Stain will bring the tiger back. The traditional means of staining "tiger" is the only way to really bring out the figure. It involves several applications using different colours. Staining is best done before using any modern glues, because our synthetic glues block stain and will show glaring pale wherever there's a residue. The residue is invisible prior to staining.

I use polyurethane to varnish these antiques. Because I think it looks great when done well, it protects the furniture like nothing else, and I believe the original makers would have used poly if that had been available.



There's a lot more to each step than I've described. But now Mindylou you've got a clue where to start and some reckoning of what a huge task this is. It's definitely a DIY job. Because the time invested is only worthwhile when you're claiming these pieces as future heirlooms. If you just want any rocking chair to sit on better buy one new.
 
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Old 03-27-08, 09:11 AM
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I'm excited...Thanks!
 
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Old 03-28-08, 03:51 AM
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A very elegant and eloquent tutorial by Kobuchi! I think may go looking for Tiger Oak, myself, just for the pleasure of the experience
 
 

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