refinishing antique, mahogany desk

Old 02-24-11, 01:43 PM
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refinishing antique, mahogany desk

My desk was coated with a dark, shellac finish (denatured alcohol partially removed it). Were the finish was worn off, the stain is also worn. Should I use stripper to completely remove any remaining finish, sand to a uniform color and then restain and finish? Or ,can I blend in the lighter edges with the stain withoiut sanding all the old stain off. The color was that reddish or maroon mahoganny color. With the old finish the wood grain pattern was masked. Is that type of finish preferred for mahongany? What stain and finish is recommended? I want the desk to look old but not shabby. The old finish was worn off on the edges and marred when banannas were left on it.
Old 03-16-11, 04:40 AM
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I have a feeling your desk was finished with old spar varnish which has blackened over time. I would remove all the old finish and start from scratch. Once you have it all removed, you can stand back and better evaluate if you want to darken the stain overall or try blending it in to what is already there. I had good luck once restoring an old player piano which was spar varnished. I had no idea it was solid mahogany What a find. I used Formby's to remove the old stuff and it seemed to disturb the underfinish less than scraping the old stuff off. Using steel wool and the softener was gentler on the piece.
Old 03-16-11, 04:52 AM
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I don't know that denatured alcohol will remove spar varnish.

I agree stripping and sanding is probably your best bet. It can be difficult to blend a stain in. It is ok to just strip and refinish certain sections. A polyurethane will give a longer lasting finish although the new poly will look new.

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