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I have a question for you woodworking guys. Is it difficult to refinish a cedar chest? It is about a 5' x 2' x 2' in size, has a cracked board on the top and wrinkles(in the finish) on the top of it. Any suggestions appreciated.
Last edited by plumbertim1975; 11-14-2008, 11:16 PM.
First off, address the cracked board. Is the chest stained? If it is, matching that stain is near impossible. Is it an antique? If so, do NOT replace the board. That will also have a significant impact on what's done to repair the finish problems.
I'll make the assumption that it's not an antique. That means you can replace the cracked board. First thing is to figure out if it cracked due to stresses in the piece or if it was a bad board to begin with. If the board was compromised (had a small crack) before it was put in the project, then it's easy to replace if you can find the stock. Well...easy is relative here. You'll have to cut the board out and replace it. A table saw would be the best way to cut out the cracked section if you can put just that flat part on the saw. Otherwise, a jig or circular saw is your answer and the cut won't be as clean. Then you'll have to glue in the replacement piece and clamp it with cauls along the top and bottom to maintain flat.
To fix the finish, there's a couple options. First you have to figure out what kind of finish it is. Since you're replacing a board anyway, your best option would be to sand off what's there and start over again. Chances are the replacement piece will still appear lighter than the rest, but that can't be helped usually. You may be able to darken it somewhat by applying a little light stain to the replacement board before you attach it. Be careful not to get any stain where you'll glue. Always keep glue joints covered when you're pre-finishing or staining. Blue painter's tape works great for that. Also, when glueing, put some painters tape next to the glue line to keep glue off the parts where you'll want to apply stain and/or finish.
If you find the finish is lacquer, you can redo it with alcohol. Take a cotton sock and drip some rubbing alcohol on it. You don't want the sock to drip, but you do want it wet. Then wrap that in a clean cotton sock. You want a "ball" to form. In quick passes, rub the ball over the finish using a good amount of pressure. Keep it moving. Do NOT let it stay in any one area for even a second...you'll melt the finish to the pad and ruin it. If the pad starts to stick, stop and re-make your pad. Lacquer is made using a flakey material and alcohol, so the rubbing alcohol will kind of melt the finish and make it re-form. It should re-form flat. It takes some time and practice to get this method down, but it works well. This method will retain the finish for antique value.
I put it all back together better than before. There\'s lots of leftover parts.