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Strange bumpy finish on old doors

I just bought an 1880 colonial with all the original doors and hardware. The doors are stained not painted but the finish is weird. The clear coat/varnish has gotten all bumpy. It looks like someone applied a paint remover but never sc****d it off and it ended up hardening. Is this old varnish? How do I correct it? I have seen old doors for sale at flea markets that have the same bumpy texture. Please help!:)

Re: Strange bumpy finish on old doors

Hi, You have an alligatored finish. It probably was shellac originally. When you wax and add furniture polish to shellac, then shellac over it (and repeat this over decades) the layers begin to move and crawl independently, eventually getting like alligator skin. Try sanding it smooth carefully, then using a finish amalgamator product. Then you can add more shellac. The nice thing is, you get to keep a lot of the old stain color, some finish color, and the patina.
Here is my blog entry of what kind of work I do with alligatored finish restoration:http://masonhamlinorgans.com/1/post/2014/03/how-to-re-polish-alligatory-varnish.html

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