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Reviving dull finish on antique oak medicine cabinet

PostPosted: Mon Feb 06, 2012 6:22 pm
by Queen Anne Victorian
I recently acquired a fabulous oak medicine cabinet from the 1920s with its original dark stain. Although the finish is dull, the stain is intact except for a few areas where there is water spotting. It has been kept in a barn for the past two years and the wood is quite dry. What would be my best course of action for reviving this piece without stripping and refinishing?

Re: Reviving dull finish on antique oak medicine cabinet

PostPosted: Mon Feb 06, 2012 6:54 pm
by angolito
check with denatured alcohol in an inconspicuous spot. if it comes off easily there are a plethora of threads here as to how to clean it. if it is shellac i usually just make a light wipe with a fine steel wool pad soaked in DA to rejuvenate old pieces which i wnt to retain their patina.

Re: Reviving dull finish on antique oak medicine cabinet

PostPosted: Sat Feb 18, 2012 2:36 pm
by sooth
I would think that the original finish is still shellac, so you can easily just add a few thin new coats, and buff-it out with #0000 steel wool lubricated in paste wax. This is how I refinish my antique clocks (the ones that are too far gone).

Re: Reviving dull finish on antique oak medicine cabinet

PostPosted: Fri Feb 24, 2012 1:07 pm
by jeepnstein
My wife recently "found" an old table sitting by the side of the road. It was in horrible shape. So one night I got bored and instead of torturing the household with my guitar playing I went down to the shop and had a go at it with some Formby's furniture refinisher. It worked wonders on the thing. I refinished with two coats of amber shellac and a bit of spar varnish on the top.

Here it is in progress...

Image

I always thought Formbys' was snake oil. It'll get the job done.

Re: Reviving dull finish on antique oak medicine cabinet

PostPosted: Fri Mar 02, 2012 10:08 am
by Don M
Wow that's a nice table; what a great find!

Re: Reviving dull finish on antique oak medicine cabinet

PostPosted: Mon Mar 05, 2012 10:27 am
by Queen Anne Victorian
Funny you mentioned Formby's - that's what I ended up using on the cabinet and it looks great. When we are ready to actually install it as a working bathroom medicine cabinet I will need to put a coat of varnish on it to protect it. Thanks for all the suggestions!

Re: Reviving dull finish on antique oak medicine cabinet

PostPosted: Sat Apr 28, 2012 2:32 pm
by cdnikoloff
I just read this for the first time. I would love to see a picture of the medicine cabinet. I was wondering if the one in my bathroom could be oak. I have never seen one like mine that was not painted. All of the woodwork in my house, including the bathroom and water closet is oak. So I though maybe the medicine cabinet might be also.

Re: Reviving dull finish on antique oak medicine cabinet

PostPosted: Sat Apr 28, 2012 3:56 pm
by YinzerMama
I can't see the picture! :wink: