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1905 Farmhouse Built-In Cabinet

We need some help with this, hopefully someone can shed some light. We jumped into stripping this built-in, and now aren't quite sure how to proceed. One side was covered in a hideous 2-layer paint technique, and the other in a dark varnish or lacquer - I don't know which. Most of it has been stripped though we still have some detail work to do.
The question is: How do we proceed? We don't necessarily want to completely re-surface the entire piece with sanding - we really wanted the paint technique and sickening dark lacquer/varnish off. Once all that is off, do we apply an oil product?
This probably sounds really dumb to those of you who know what you're doing, but I really appreciate the help!!
I'd post pics, but since I'm new I'm not allowed!

Re: 1905 Farmhouse Built-In Cabinet

If the paint was applied to bare, unfinished wood, it's more of a hurdle to overcome than if paint went over some kind of varnish. The vanish or shellac would have sealed the wood, and the subsequent paint could be removed without much trouble. Once paint gets in the grain, it's a problem to get 100% of it back out again. Lots of applications of chemical stripper, and then a good deep sanding is usually required. Those of us who know how to sharpen and deploy the steel cabinet scra-per have an additional tool in our arsenal that is often handy. The sanding and scraping will remove most if not all of the original patina (oxidizing/darkening) that may have developed underneath the paint over time. You can also lose or muddle any original hand-working marks left by the smoothing plane, if the piece was hand-made.
All of these factors point toward a conclusion that the most practical approach is repainting.
Remember, too, that the "ugly dark paint-varnish" was probably the original _faux bois_ (wood graining) applied when new in 1905. That effect could be recreated giving you a very authentic piece that the original owners would recognize

Re: 1905 Farmhouse Built-In Cabinet

It must have been varnished previous to the paint technique, because the paint came off with no problem at all. We were also told when we bought the house that at one time all the woodwork had been painted black, so its possible that this has been done before.
Also, we were told that at least one side of the cabinet was completely refinished at some point, I believe some time during the past, say, 40 years. (I forgot about that when I wrote my original post!)
So I guess what I'm wondering is...we removed the paint from one side...do we HAVE to sand it? Or is there something we can put over the showing surface and then leave as it is?
Same thing with the varnish/lacquer side...now that the dark layer is off, so we HAVE to sand it, or is there some sort of wax or oil or something that we can use instead of putting a new shiny, hard layer over what we've uncovered?

Re: 1905 Farmhouse Built-In Cabinet


If you don't like the looks of a full bodied varnish over your wood, you can try Watco's Danish Oil. This is an oil which has been fortified with some varnish. It is wiped on, left for several minutes to penetrate, and then wiped off. It leaves a nice patina, without the varnished look. Watco is also available with some color in it, so as to
stain and finish with one product. I believe Home Depot is once again carrying the Watco line. Most woodworking stores also carry it.

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