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Wrecked old finish

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  • Wrecked old finish

    My folks had a roof leak and it landed on their 1950's vintage, deep red, cherry dining table. This is nice stuff and now the finish is milky. Does it sound like a shellac finish? It seems to me that there is a simple repair for some of these finishes. Dad is 82, Mom is 80 but has Alzheimers - he's swamped with worry and really didn't need this. It's the fault of a roofing contractor who is being a jerk about it. Sorry for the rant, folks. Suggestions appreciated.
    TIA (from Dad, too),

  • #2
    Sounds like a nice antique table. If It were me I would do the following:

    I would personally start with a good quality paste wax and try to buff it out. You might be able to clean it up that way. From there, if that does not work, I would try to strip the finish coat with the lightest duty stripper you can find and reseal.

    Murphy's oil soap also comes to mind.

    But first, before I did anything, i would contact the village and speak with the building department. I don't know if the work he did required a permit, but if it did and he pulled one, he is licensed, bonded, and insured. They might be able to lean on them a bit and not issue anymore permits to the contractor in town until they make it right. At least in theory that would be the case. I would also get an estimate from someone who offers free estimates in the field. You can have someone come out, and they will likely tell you what they have to do to make it right and give you an estimate. You can use this estimate as leverage to get the contractor to make it right. I would submit it to him in a nice letter with the threat of small claims court if he does not fix it!

    The estimate will provide two things,

    1) something in writing to submit to the contractor.

    2) the furnature repair service will tell you what they will need to do to fix it, this will allow you to determine if you can fix it yourself or not.

    The other thing that I would do if it were me, is get the contractor's insurance info from the village building department, and contact them direct under the guise of needing to find out what you need to do to file a claim. Go over his head in otherwords.

    And as I type this one other thing comes to mind, what about your homeowners insurance? Maybe they will cover it and then they can fight with the contractor?

    At any rate, these are some avenues you might take in order to hold the contractor accountable for his actions. These are what I would do.

    Good Luck


    • #3
      I have heard of a few remedies.

      Let it sit - I like this method and it has work for many a ring in my furnature. As the moisture dissipates with time the ring goes away

      Use a hair dryer on the ring - accellerates the natural drying process. dont get it too hot or too close as you can soften the finish.

      Rub Mayo into the ring - never tried this yet. The oil in the Mayo absorbs into the finish and hides the ring

      Toothpaste - a soft and fine abrasive to rub out the top layer of finish where the ring is


      • #4
        Thanks, gents. Dad doesn't want to 'make waves over an old table' so I'll probably go with the 'wait' solution for the time being. I wish that it was just a ring but it's the majority of the table top. Oh yea, get this for a quality contractor. Told Dad, "It's late and I don't want to paint the eaves today. I'll be back on Thursday to finish up. I'd like to be paid now, though". Dad, having been around the block a time or two in his 82 years says, "OK, but it will be for $300 less than the contract. You'll get the rest when it's done. The guy shoots off and comes back with the paint and finishes the job. Geeee, he was gonna come back on Thursday anyway, right?!?!?!? *not*
        Chiz (sorry fo the additional rant but people who scam the elderly are lower than whale manure!)


        • #5
          Sounds like your Dad is still on top of his game. If you plan to persue compensation for the damaged table, take pictures before you try to fix it yourself.
          "Did you put the yellow key in the switch?" TOD 01/09/06


          • #6
            "take pictures before you try to fix it yourself"

            Take photos of the source of the leak and at least one that shows the relationship of the leak source and the table such that both are visible in one photo if possible.

            You might want to review these online articles I found;


   has an article titled "Repairing Color Damage" about scratch repair, back issues are $8.00

            Fine Woodworking has a link to this article online, but have to pay $3.50 to get it.

            "How to Fix Damaged Finishes"

            If you do a little web searching you should be able to come up with more than I found here in just a couple minutes.