Saucy Help!

The Process of Sauce

Previous Entry Share Next Entry
Opinions on refinishing my new MCM credenza (now with in-progress pics, need help deciding on knobs)
redlotus13 wrote in saucyhelp
Hi folks!  I just scored this sweet MCM credenza at a thrift store for... wait for it... $24!!  It needs some love, though.
 I need to sand it down and refinish it, and I'm wondering if I should go for a darker stain (like a dark walnut or mahogany) or for more of a warm, golden tone (like teak).  I'm not actually sure what kind of wood it is, to be honest, so any feedback on that is welcome.  Also, I want to do something different with the knobs but I'm not sure what would look good.  I want to keep it MCM in style, but do something a bit more interesting than the tiny little pull knobs that are there now.  I'd sort of like to put the pulls/knobs on the sides of the doors rather then the top center, but I've never tried to fill a knob hole and stain/varnish it before - would that look obvious/crappy?  Do I need to just find knobs to put in the same place as the existing ones, or can I try filling the holes and placing knobs along an edge of the doors?  Any suggestions on knobs/pulls?  Anything else you guys would do with this?  I am NOT going to paint it, just to be clear - that's not something that I'm at all considering.  I'm interested in refinishing tips/ideas that will showcase the lovely wood.  It gets delivered tomorrow (yay!) and I'm eager to get to work on it, so lets hear your thoughts!

Also, any ideas on a maker/year/worth?  There's no maker mark and I can't seem to find this bad boy anywhere online, so any insight into its origins would be greatly appreciated!


 Thanks!

Red

PS: Sorry about the not-so-great pics - I had to snap them with my phone in the store before I left.

.



That might be teak. Please consider keeping it as it- just re-oil the wood. Here is a tutorial on how. And here is a similar item that has been kept as-is.

I second the re-oiling. It's beautiful!

Instantaneously, I thought of the beautiful knobs I've been drooling over since Yellow Brick Home posted them on their blog for their fauxdenza desk they just built. More pics will be on their blog soon. But what's a comment without some eye candy?


Lews Hardware Bar Pull Collection - Bar Knob in Brushed Brass - ( LEW-46017) $6.95/each

It's pretty great, huh? I love the floating look it has! I was just wandering around the store (my usual thrifting haunt) when there it was, in all its wooden glory. I swear I found my MCM Danish coffee table in that exact spot (for $14.95), a Danish style MCM end table in that exact spot ($6.95), and another MCM Danish end table about 1.5 feet away (for $3.95!!). I swear it's like there's a Narnia-esque portal to the 1950s/1960s right over that spot or something!

I don't have a truck or anyone to transport it for me, so I ALMOST didn't get it, but I couldn't bear to walk away from it. So I paid for it and I'm having a furniture company deliver it here for $50. I still think that $75 for that credenza is a steal, especially if it turns out to be teak! I have no idea how to determine that, though. How can I tell if it's teak?

And those KNOBS! OMG! I love them! They're perfect for this piece because they're meant for top/center and they sort of mimic the suspended/floating aspect of the storage area. And they're CHEAP to boot! Thank you so much! I knew there was a reason I asked here! :D

$75 for that credenza is a total steal! It's gorgeous! And I third the re-oiling suggestion.

Gaaaah, why do I never get amazing deals like that around here! Seems like Nebraskans know the true value of these beautiful pieces and we hardly EVER find something cheap. Although, I did find a teak drop leaf table with a center roll-over third leaf insert for a meer $75 with three chairs. As close as I can get but absolutely worth it.

Glad you like them! I thought they were perfect the second I saw your piece - please, please, please post pictures when you're done re-oiling/knobbing! I'd LOVE to see it finished!

Will do! Unfortunately, though, it looks like the credenza is walnut and not teak. The delivery service I use is a local antique furniture store that does deliveries on the side, and when I asked the guys (the owner's sons) they immediately said "walnut". Looking at pictures of teak grain and color, I have to agree. :(

Also, I'm dismayed to discover that the doors are veneered. It's real wood veneer, not plastic, so that's something. It's a layered veneer and the top layer of walnut is quite thin (about fingernail width). There's another layer, much thicker, that's also wood but I'm not sure on quality. I'm not sure what to do, now. Should I try to sand the top layer enough to take a stain, or sand right through it to the next layer? Can I use a stripper to take the finish off the veneer and re-stain? I think I'd like to try to stain it with a warm teak tone and then re-seal it with a low-gloss finish. Or do you think the oil/wax approach would still work?

I still really love the lines of the piece and I still think it was a good deal, I just don't want to screw up the doors by ruining the veneer. But the color is sort of drab as is and it has scratches and dings that need fixing. What should I do? Can I put a new veneer on the doors myself? Or sand them?

Help!

I would think that although there is a wood veneer, you'd still be able to sand it down lightly to restain it. If it's also a walnut veneer, it should stain well, I think. There are many more, much more experienced in the art of wood finishing. I have a few friends around where I'm from that I could maybe ask to see what they're input would be, but I don't know when the next time I'll see them around is.

You could also try to do the oil/wax approach in a smaller area just to test the waters. If it doesn't work out, then you can just sand it down (like I said above) and move on as a failed attempt. I'm hoping, though, that if it is reoiled that it could potentially liven it up because the color as-is, as you said, a bit drab and dated.

It's still a great piece with great lines and definitely a good deal (seriously, mostly-solid wood aside from the doors with veneer?!) so still be proud!

Well I decided to use Citristrip to take the finish off the doors because the veneer was too thin to really sand without risking sanding right through in places, and on a big piece like this that would mean a REALLY slow, long process of careful sanding with probable errors.

I did a test patch on the inside corner of a door where unfortunately the guys who delivered it chipped of a piece of veneer already (I have it and can repair, but it was already a bit damaged so I figured if the Citristrip was a bad idea at least it would be on a place that was already not great, and easy to hide.

I am SO SO SO thrilled at the gorgeous wood that was revealed! It's warm and bright and lovely with some red undertones. SO much nicer than the drab stain! The Citristrip took the stain and varnish right off in about 15 minutes and didn't damage the wood veneer at all. I've stripped the whole top and front, with the exception of a few nooks and crannies that need a finer touch. Tomorrow I'm going to tackle the back and sides, and time allowing the drawers and shelving inside. Then I'm going to go ahead and oil/wax as suggested, because I am loving this wood and I think staining it would be a mistake. My BFF is buying me the bar pulls as a Valentine's gift, which cuts down on the cost even more! I'm going to post some progress pics as a reply to my original post, so be sure to check them out! And thanks so much for the continued advice, I really appreciate it. :)

Oh, I would LOVE it if it were teak! I have no idea how to tell, though. Any tips on identifying? Also, there are a fair amount of scuffs and dings. It looks like in the instructions you posted that I can sand a bit, but will I be able to snad enough to get the deeper scratches out, or will that make it look funny? The color in the pic you posted is WONDERFUL and I would ADORE a nice warm golden color like that. My credenza looks pretty drab, color-wise (as you can see). If it's teak, will the oil give it that nice golden hue?

Also, it looked to me like the credenza has an existing layer of varnish. There was a spot or two where the scuffs looked like they had broken through a varnish-type layer of some sort. If it's varnished, can I still sand it down and oil it? Is it possible that the layer I thought was varnish was actually a wax?

Sorry, this is my first potentially nice wood piece. I have a walnut MCM danish-style coffee table and two end tables that I refinished, but I did stain and varnish with them so I'm clueless about waxing/oiling.

I really appreciate the input though, and I will totally refrain from staining/varnishing if it's teak. I'd love to try the technique you suggested!

Unfortunately, it looks like the credenza is walnut and not teak. The delivery service I use is a local antique furniture store that does deliveries on the side, and when I asked the guys (the owner's sons) they immediately said "walnut". Looking at pictures of teak grain and color, I have to agree. :(

Also, I'm dismayed to discover that the doors are veneered. It's real wood veneer, not plastic, so that's something. It's a layered veneer and the top layer of walnut is quite thin (about fingernail width). There's another layer, much thicker, that's also wood but I'm not sure on quality. I'm not sure what to do, now. Should I try to sand the top layer enough to take a stain, or sand right through it to the next layer? Can I use a stripper to take the finish off the veneer and re-stain? I think I'd like to try to stain it with a warm teak tone and then re-seal it with a low-gloss finish. Or do you think the oil/wax approach would still work?

I still really love the lines of the piece and I still think it was a good deal, I just don't want to screw up the doors by ruining the veneer. But the color is sort of drab as is and it has scratches and dings that need fixing. What should I do? Can I put a new veneer on the doors myself? Or sand them?

Help!

(Deleted comment)
The pictures of the work you've done so far on it are dud red X boxes. :( I wanna see, darn it!

Really? :( They're showing up fine for me. I don't know what to do to fix them, seeing as from my end there doesn't seem to be a problem. Let me try to re-upload them and see if that helps. Give me about 3 minutes and then refresh, okay? :)

Okay, it wouldn't let me edit my comments (not sure why - damn you and all your changes, LJ! *shakes fist*) so I deleted the old comments and re-posted them below with re-uploaded pics. Hopefully that does the trick, because otherwise I'm stumped!

I decided to use Citristrip to take the finish off the doors because the veneer was too thin to really sand without risking sanding right through in places, and on a big piece like this that would mean a REALLY slow, long process of careful sanding with probable errors.

I did a test patch on the inside corner of a door where unfortunately the guys who delivered it chipped off a piece of veneer.

I am SO SO SO thrilled at the gorgeous wood that was revealed! It's warm and bright and lovely with some red undertones. SO much nicer than the drab stain! I have NO idea why anyone would stain this lovely wood that horrible grey-brown shade, but then again there are a LOT of things people do to lovely furniture that I simply do not understand, or that makes me cringe/roll my eyes/weep.

The Citristrip took the stain and varnish right off in about 15 minutes and didn't damage the wood veneer at all. I've stripped the whole top and front, with the exception of a few nooks and crannies that need a finer touch. Tomorrow I'm going to tackle the back and sides, and time allowing the drawers and shelving inside. Then I'm going to go ahead and oil/wax as suggested, because I am loving this wood and I think staining it would be a mistake. My BFF is buying me the bar pulls as a Valentine's gift, which cuts down on the cost even more!

So, some in progress pics! They're taken with my phone again, just to make it easy, so sorry that a few are blurry.

Here's a patch of stripped veneer next to some of the original finish so you can see the contrast between the two. I was ecstatic to see how bright and gorgeous the underlying wood was!



A wider shot, so you can see the contrast on the whole piece:


There are some lovely variations in the color in the wood, most noticably this blonde striation in the center of the front. It's even prettier when you can see the grain!



And finally, here's a good glimpse of the whole piece! All visible parts in this shot have been stripped. Just imagine it oiled/waxed with these pulls: http://www.myknobs.com/lew31101.html , sitting in a sunny living room!


I am THRILLED with how this piece is coming along! What a difference it made, stripping off the original finish! It's like a whole new piece. I adored the lines and bones of it all along, but now I can add the beautiful wood to the list of things I love about this credenza. And now the $24.95 price tag seems like even MORE of a bargain, seeing how much more expensive it looks without that cheap, drab stain hiding the lovely wood. I cannot WAIT to get this finished and settled in to my living room. Thanks so much for you guys' advice and support - I'm so glad you suggesting oiling and waxing because to be honest I've never done that and it might not have occured to me as an option - and that would have been a great shame, I think, because I think oiling/waxing is just the right approach for this peice (now that you've seen the original wood, do you guys agree that oiling/waxing is still the way to go? And any guesses on what type of wood it is? Is it walnut, or maybe cherry? Any chance at all that it might actually be teak? I think the grain looks too loose for teak, but I'm certainly no expert!).

I'll be sure to keep you all posted as it progresses!

PS: The lighting in the photos doesn't do the color of the wood justice - it's really much warmer than it looks.

Just to illustrate the contrast, here's a before and after comparison:

Before:


After!

You're quite sure that's walnut?
It's so reddish-looking, it seems to me much likelier that it's cherry. If it gets darker with exposure to light (over some time, of course) it's definitely cherry because cherry reacts to light by darkening. That could have been what the cheap, drab paint-y looking stain was for: consistency and constancy of color, besides suiting someone's taste.

The bare wood is simply gorgeous! And you acquired this beauty for only $24.95! You have a gift, I'm thinking.

Definitely not sure that it's walnut. That was my thought BEFORE I saw the wood under the stain, and the delivery guys said it was walnut as well, but they also had not seen the reddish tone of the original wood. Cherry was my second guess as well. I think that, at this piece's age, the darkening would be almost unnoticeable at this point. Usually after ten years (according to what I've read) the darkening tapers down to almost nothing, and this piece is definitely older than 10 years. I suppose that could explain the drab finish, but still - UGH. Shame on whoever stained such lovely wood such an awful color! That stain made it look like cheap, fake-veneered, WalMart furniture!

LOL yup, it was $24.95, plus $50 to have it picked up and delivered, so total price to get it here in my living room was $75. I already had rags, Citristrip, gloves, stripper after wash, etc so all I need to buy is the oil and wax, and my BFF is buying me the knobs as a V-day gift, so I think it'll be under $100 total cost to me by the time it's finished. I spend a LOT of time thrifting and bargain-hunting, and I've been looking for the right credenza for a while. I finally found it! :)

Okay, so now that the issue of the finish is decided, I need your opinion on which knob to get. Tough suggested these AMAZING bar knobs and I'm definitely going with them, but I can't decide on the brushed brass or polished brass finish. I keep going back and forth. So I figured I'd put it to a vote and see what you guys thought!

Here's the brushed brass:


And here's polished:


Which one do you think suits the piece better? :)

I think it depends on the metals you use in other parts of the room. I sort of love the idea of the polished with this one. But the same knob is delicious in brushed brass, or oil-rubbed bronze, or brushed nickel or... oh, it is just a lovely knob. :P

One thing, though, would be you may want to consider ordering from here:
http://www.knobsandhardware.com/knobs/lews-hardware-bar-series-knob_g185460.html

The brass knobs from the site you linked (and another I found on my search) both have you waiting 8 - 12 weeks for the knobs to ship! I don't know about you... but I am too impatient for a timeline like that!

This site I linked has ANY of the finishes in the knob shipping within a week! And if you spend $29.99, you get free shipping. They seem to have a lot of stuff besides knobs, so you could find something for about $5 to add into your order to get the free shipping since the knobs alone would be $25.20. (It doesn't actually make sense to NOT throw in a $5 worth of something else, because the knobs + shipping would be $32.19. It is cheaper to add to the cart, haha.)

The total for the site you linked before (including their shipping) would be $34.55 (not including any tax).

I'm a cheapskate, but I figured you may like to get the knobs sooner AND save a few bucks AND get a little bonus item! ;)

Edited at 2012-02-17 08:39 am (UTC)

Yeah, I had noticed that as well, and found another site that had them able to ship in 5-8 days. I just grabbed the images off that site because they were the first to pop up when I searched. :) Thanks so much for taking the time to figure all that out, though. I might have to use that site and get the free shipping! I'll tell my friend who's ordering them for me as a gift.

I'm leaning towards the polished as well - since they're so small, I think having them be shiny and bright would make them stand out better. I don't really have any other metals in the living room, to be honest. other than a silver metal lamp. But I think that brass will look good with the warm tones of the wood.

Thanks for the input, it's much appreciated! :)

Glad I was of some help! (I suck at email so I didn't see your reply until now.)

And I see from the comment you put below with more updated pictures how gorgeous this is turning out, lady. I am SO excited to see it all finished!

Got some more work done on the credenza today - stripped the awful stain off the sides and back - the whole outside is fully stripped now! Washed it down with Citristrip stripper after wash (and had a good immature chuckle over "stripper wash" with my BFF lol), let it dry, and then put two coats of teak oil on and wiped it down. Then I waxed it with Johnson's Paste Wax, let it dry, and buffed it well.

It's looking gorgeous, if I do say so myself! The more I look at it the more I love the tone of the wood and all the great natural variations in color and grain. The wood feels velvety smooth now instead of plastic-y - before, it looked and felt like fake wood veneer, but now it looks and feels like smooth hardwood.

All that's left is stripping/treating the interior, repairing the second door from the left (bottom hinge is off, which is why there is a gap between that door and the the body of the credenza), and adding the hardware, which will be ordered tomorrow. Considering the size of this piece, I think I've made good progress!

It looks great with the oil and wax, so I wanted to include a few more in-progress pics so anyone who was interested could see how it's coming along.

Wide shot. You can see some of the shine and the well-conditioned tone of the wood (that gap on the door is driving me nuts, though! Can't wait to fix it!):

Close up of one of the doors, so you can see the grain and tone:


Just wanted to say it looks amazing, and I practically squeed out loud at what the Citristrip (which I've never heard of) revealed. It removes varnish and stain but doesn't damage the wood? Miracle product!

Well done. :)

I just want to say THANK YOU for updating this post as you went along! I hate when people make posts and then don't show us what they did! :) The credenza is totally drool-worthy now! You've done an amazing job!

You are viewing saucyhelp