Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Repairing a Lacquered Top

One of my long time customers had me look at an old lacquered table she had gotten several years ago. It is not an unusually valuable piece but it is, as you can see, charming.
Unfortunately over the years the top has suffered from the effects of coaster-free iced drink glasses.
The problem is to efficiently restore the top to match the existing finish.The very first thing to try is a clean soft cloth dampened with solvent alcohol. This will probably remove the water rings immediately and you are all done. If there is other damage then proceed.
The first thing to do is to clean the top.Test a small area on the table with your cleaner first to ensure that your cleaner will not strip or mar the finish. Liquid sander, PASO brand, is my favorite. Ammonia water or solvent alcohol can also be used. Refrain from the use of lacquer thinner since it will ruin the finish--quickly.
Now that the top is clean it is time to get some good photographs to document the artwork on the top. Digital photos are the way to go since you can check you work immediately and see if you did indeed get some good images. The large image afforded by the monitor is a great help when you need to examine detail.  Once you get some good pics you can break out the artist's acrylics and match the different colors in the top. You will refer to these colors as you re-color the top. You might be wondering why it is necessary to physically match color when you have a perfectly good picture of it. Trust me. If you want accuracy it is not quite the same. You will need to take your color match samples to Metro Paint to get them formulated in an interior latex eggshell finish.
Once you are happy with your matches then you can spray on a coat of dewaxed shellac onto the freshly cleaned top. A couple of thin coats are much better than one thick, globby coat. (And take it out of doors to do the deed. They use methyl chloride for some reason to get it to work out of a spray can. Methyl Chloride is genuinely nasty stuff and is not to be trifled with.)  Be sure that you get "dewaxed" shellac rather than regular shellac. Dewaxed shellac is the universal sealer. Everything sticks to it; it sticks to everything. Also it dries in about 40 minutes. (This is a good time to get your samples matched. The shellac will be dry by the time you return.) This layer of shellac is a "barrier coat".
Once your shellac is dry then you can apply your first of two coats of top coat. One inch blue tape is in order here to keep paint where paint belongs. Take care in pulling tape to avoid lifting fresh paint from top.  Use a good brush-I like Woosters. A cheap brush will ruin the work. Ignore this advice at your peril. Follow directions on label of paint can. Be sure and clean your nice new brush-it will last a while if kept clean. Put dry brush back in stiff paper wrapper(called a "shuck" in the trade.) to keep bristles from deforming.
Once your basecoats have dried then you can begin on copying artwork using artists' brushes or push brooms, if you prefer. Artwork having dried, you can spray more dewaxed shellac onto top. After that dries you can smear on a couple of coats of floor wax and buff that at the appropriate time. I use Trewax (follow directions on can.) which you can also get at Metro. It has carnauba in it and dries very hard indeed. You can re-wax from time to time. Wax gives it such a nice patina. (But you still need coasters.  :)   Hope this helps, Mimi. Blessings to you and Jay.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


Shot of Olivia Thanksgiving 2012. Here in FW.
Laura and Olivia (Olivia is the short one.) in Jacksonville. Josh took this great shot. Sure miss them.

At Mummum's house Thanksgiving 2012
Olivia's not very diminutive Uncle Mikey.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Trevor's solar screens

My name is Trevor and I am writing this post for my neighbor Rod. I call him Rod for short. I built some solar screens over the weekend for my Mom's house and I wanted to show you all how it went. That is my Mom's left kneecap and elbow on the
left of the photo. Rod is quite the photographer.
I had to"persuade" Rod to let me post this on his blog.(Had to smack him around a little but he finally saw things my way.)

I also had Mansfield SWAT standing by for crowd control because I'm famous. Thanks, guys!   We celebrities can't be too careful these days. Hey Paris! Don't be a stranger, girl!

First I carefully measured the windows to be screened.
(Rod let me use his shop to make my cuts, glue the frames up, paint and then screen them. He is not as bad as the TV people say.)
Next I ripped some 2x6 that I had salvaged from cast-off material from a deck on the South Side.
Skip and Debbie Stemple's place.( Model T mechanic extraordaire and friends even more extraordinaire. ) They had put in a new deck on their house and stacked the old wood on the curb. I had Rod bring it back to the neighborhood so as not to waste. We have put a lot of it to good use.  Skip keeps Rod's clunkers on the road. ( I'm sure
EPA is thrilled but not much.) Kudos with hugs to Skip and Debbie!!!

I cut everything to fit and set up to make dowel joints.
I drilled holes for dowels with a 3/8" drill bit. I crimped dowels with pliers to crush the wood fibers. I applied glue to crimped end and hammered dowels into the holes. The water-based glue causes the wood to swell slightly and makes for a tight, strong joint when the glue is dry. I like Titebond III. I can use it for interior and exterior
 applications. Then I flush cut the extra dowel
 material for a smooth surface. I let my Mom
 help me seal and paint the frames.

Once the paint was dry I rolled out the solar screen, stapled it in place, wrapped the extra screen material around the frame and stapled the
material in place on the back.

(If it looks like Rod doesn't know how to do a blog then that is because Rod doesn't know how
to do a blog. But he's getting there.)

Lastly, a little tap-tap with a mallet and block of
wood and the windows are in place.

Well, here they are. If you look closely you can actually see the solar radiation bouncing off the screen material. Pretty amazing-not just me but the screens also. See you next time! I love
you, Mom and Gigi!!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Trevor's solar screens

My name is Trevor. I built some solar screens for my Mom this weekend and Rod said I could write about it on his blog. ( I had to rough him up a little but I didn't leave any marks on him.)
I decided to have a SWAT team on hand for crowd control. I'm famous, you know.
Thanks, guys!

First I carefully measured the windows to be screened.

Friday, July 15, 2011

hand finished oiled and waxed cabinets

This is a photograph of a kitchen I did several years ago near TCU. The remodeler had taken everything down to the studs. John Ball did the new cabinets-amazing work. My customers asked me what stain color would be appropriate considering the deep green color of the granite we had selected and the existing floor which had shades of terra-cotta. I suggested no stain on the pristine alder wood. Oil and wax finishes have been done for hundreds of years. They yield a depth and clarity to the wood that is beyond compare. Incidentally fifteen years hence and many many meals later they are in very good condition. The oil( in this case 4 coats hand-rubbed) actually darkens slightly with age imparting a wonderful patina.
The mottled two color glaze on the walls has sienna/ gold glazes over a beige basecoat with a matte clear topcoat.

 This is the table at the bay window but not just a table. The site of many blessings. Many plates of good food. Encouragements by the bucketful. Jugs full of listening. Baskets full of compassion. All right there.
We couldn't get rid of that table. Kent cut it down some to fit a little better. I stripped the existing finish to bare wood. Again rather than staining it I used pool chlorine and pool acid to distress the top. Both treatments are completely lightfast which was imperative given its proximity to the windows. Two coats of satin poly and voila!
The trim had an off-white basecoat with dirty brown glaze and satin clear topcoat.