OLD STYLE FINISHING - WOOD GRAIN EFFECT
#11
  
I am intending to refurbish an old desk  that belonged to my father and I am not sure of the process used to apply the original finish. The wood is basically cheap wood and it has a solid base coat of lighter beige paint and a top coat of darker brown paint with a "wood grain" effect with the base coat showing through to give the appearance of a wood grain.  I plan to strip the paint from the entire piece since it is in pretty rough shape, particularly the top coat.
 
Below is a link to two pictures of a door from the desk, inside and outside.  The outside is much darker and appears to have a coat of varnish or dark shellac over the paint.  Since I have seen many pieces of furniture with this finish over the years it was obviously quite popular many decades ago.  A friend suggested that it may have been created by an ammonia fuming process but I cannot find any references to confirm.    I would like to restore it to its' original state.
 
Anyone able to help with suggestions or a link?
 
Thank you,
 
Bob
 
 
https://1drv.ms/f/s!AnmAk7fIvmHw-XuQgNfxdozQfTKt


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#12
  Re: OLD STYLE FINISHING - WOOD GRAIN EFFECT by RALST ([color=black][size=s...)
Welcome to WoodNet.  You are at the right place with your questions. 

That looks like white oak to me and the finish looks like one commonly used with white oak.  First, a dark dye is applied.  Fuming was done long ago, but I don't think any commercial operation has used it for at least 50 years and probably a lot longer.  After the dye has dried, the piece is sanded lightly.  That removes the dye in from the harder areas and they go back to the color of the raw wood.  Often, a sealer coat was applied next.  That looks in the color in the light ares.  Next an oil based stain is applied and that is what gives the dark color.  Another coat of sealer is applied over all that, and then the finish coats are applied.  In production furniture, that has been lacquer since the 1920's. 

If you want to replicate that finish, strip the piece with KleanStrip Premium or some other stripper containing methylene chloride.  You may have to do it twice to get all the color out.  Then you can lightly sand away any defects, though I usually don't, and I almost never sand it if what you are looking at is veneer and not solid wood.  Check the edges carefully to see if you have veneer or solid wood.  Anyway, here is a link to Homestead Finishing's website.  Download the PDF document on this page.  It will describe how to hand replicate Stickley style finishes, which were done as I described above.  None of those recipes may give you the exact color you have now, although the Centennial looks close, but you can get that color with the right choice of dye and stain.  

John
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#13
  Re: OLD STYLE FINISHING - WOOD GRAIN EFFECT by RALST ([color=black][size=s...)
Thanks for getting me pointed in the right direction.  I think I have my work cut out for me.  I will report back.

Regards,  Bob
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#14
  Re: OLD STYLE FINISHING - WOOD GRAIN EFFECT by RALST ([color=black][size=s...)
It's not really very hard to get a very good looking Stickley style finish by hand.  Just follow Jeff's directions and you'll be fine.  Plenty of help here, too, if you need it.

John
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#15
  Re: OLD STYLE FINISHING - WOOD GRAIN EFFECT by RALST ([color=black][size=s...)
   


Me again.  Started stripping and wood is white oak, not a veneer, and the light colour in the background of the grain effect is the wood, all as suggested by John.  I am now dealing with the drop down desk front, 15" x 32", and noticed that the entire surface is finished by a process that makes it appear as though it were a solid piece.  You will notice that in the photo the 3" vertical breadboard on the end grain of the horizontal boards, probably 4, is slightly separating and caused a vertical white edge as can be seen in the photo.  This is where it is obvious that the imitation grain carries through the entire face of the front.  Closer examination indicates that is also the situation throughout the desk.  

You will see that the grain effect on the entire piece, both vertical and horizontal, carries through, giving the appearance of one large piece.  This gets me back to my original suspicion that there was a painting process involved in the original finish.

Any more thoughts on this John?
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#16
  Re: OLD STYLE FINISHING - WOOD GRAIN EFFECT by RALST ([color=black][size=s...)
Can you post a picture of the entire desk front?  If it is solid wood, I don't see how you could have a seam like that unless it's where two pieces meet at a right angle, like where a breadboard meets the field.  But your photo shows all the grain running in one direction.  Are you sure there isn't a thin piece of veneer on top of the entire desk front? 

The grain pattern in your latest photo sure does look suspiciously like it was done by some printing type process.  If so, I have no clue how to replicate that, nor do I think I would be motivated to try.  There are better approaches to returning the piece to a respectable look. 

Please show a few photos of the entire piece, and specifically of the desk front after you have it stripped.  Thanks.

John
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#17
  Re: OLD STYLE FINISHING - WOOD GRAIN EFFECT by RALST ([color=black][size=s...)
Thanks John,

Definitely no veneer anywhere on desk and for sure breadboard ends at each end of the face.  Entire top coat of   dark brown (paint ????) grain patterned to make surface look like one piece and I am guessing a dark shellac or several coats of dark varnish over top of that.

To me, grain effect shows no signs of having been printed, or applied by a tool or brush or other device 100 years ago.

I wonder if "fumed" process, as suggested by a friend, might be what it is?  I can find many references to "fumed oak" and the results on bare white  oak etc. but I am not sure, nor can I find, any reference to what fuming might do to paint, or other finishing products  from 100 years ago.  

Can anyone comment on the "fuming" process from way back when and if it is a possibility?   I will continue with stripping and provide more photos later.

Thanks,

Bob
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#18
  Re: OLD STYLE FINISHING - WOOD GRAIN EFFECT by RALST ([color=black][size=s...)
Fuming was done by placing the piece inside a plastic tent that has a plate of concentrated ammonia on the floor, for some period of time that has to be determined empirically to gauge the effect.  You do NOT want to do this.  First, concentrated ammonia can kill you if things go sideways, and is dangerous no matter what.  Second, the effect is not consistent, it changes from one board to another, with time, probably other things. And there's no reason to even try it.  You can get the same thing by using dye, with more control and consistency, and no safety issues.  That is exactly what Stickley and others now do. They used to fume their WO furniture, but they quickly moved to light fast dyes since they became available 50+ years ago.

But all this is completely unnecessary if you put a coat of paint on it first.  Paint will completely cover any fuming or dye. 

Can you confirm that on one side of the crack is a breadboard end and on the other side is wood running at a right angle to it?  

John
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#19
  Re: OLD STYLE FINISHING - WOOD GRAIN EFFECT by RALST ([color=black][size=s...)
Could that be fake tiger striping? as in fake graining?
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#20
  Re: OLD STYLE FINISHING - WOOD GRAIN EFFECT by RALST ([color=black][size=s...)
Thanks for advice on fuming. Won't be trying it, just trying to determine if that is what I was dealing with.  I can confirm breadboard ends on the front of the door....mortise and tendon are visible.

As I proceed with the stripping I noticed that bare spots on original finish were caused by the old finish (shellac?) flaking off and the grain pattern coming with it leaving the raw wood exposed.   On some surfaces on the interior (not visible when assembled) the grain pattern exists and it comes off with absolutely no problem leaving the wood bare in its' natural state.  I have now spoken to a retired antique furniture dealer and he is quite certain that the imitation grain pattern was applied by a printing process and then sealed with a transparent sealer.  Since it washes off easily these areas were obviously not sealed.   Pattern may have been made with a water based dye or ink (my opinion).

Work continues and if nothing changes, the Stickley method is where I am headed.

Regards,

Bob
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