What is the best way to refinish a piece of art deco furniture?

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I recently purchased a four piece art deco bedroom suite. Every piece is in very good condition except for the nightstand, whose top needs to be refinished. What is the best way to go about doing this? I am afraid that once I am done the finish may not match the other pieces exactly. I don't plan on ever reselling this but I would like for it to look nice. Any suggestions?

-- Eleni Giannakopoulos (eleni.giannakopoulos@onesoft.com), June 12, 2000


I won't answer from a collector point of view (which may well be to leave the piece as is). Consulting with furniture makers and refinishers is a reasonable idea-- some antique furniture dealers refinish pieces on a regular basis.

If you decide to go it alone, I strongly recommend a few evenings with Bob Flexner's Understanding Wood Finishing, easily the best and most comprehensive discussion of stains ad finishes available. If the damage is only to the topcoat, and not to the stain and underlying wood, refinishing the top may not be too difficult. If there is damage to the wood, you will probably have to strip the wood, sand and apply repairs, restain, and apply a new topcoat. The key to matching the other pieces is matching the color with the topcoat applied-- you might want to test this out by doing the underside of the nightstand until you get it right!

Good luck!

-- vince (vnowinski@hotmail.com), June 12, 2000.

Over and over you hear that one shouldn't re-finish pieces, but if you're sure you want to, go ahead. As an alternative, I suggest making a trip to an antiques mall or used furniture place. They sell a good brand of wipe-on stain that freshens a piece nicely -- i can't think of the name but you see it on display a lot in used furn stores. It comes in a can similar to what you see turpentine come in. Refinishers use it instead of stripping and staining. I used it on a Deco dining set I have and it really does the trick. I think it's called Restore-all or something like that. They sell it in different wood-finishes.

-- stephanie (armadillogirl@worldnet.att.net), June 22, 2001.

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