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That dreaded cloudy spot

lacquer damageHave you ever set a hot cup of coffee down on a wooden table only to realize what you have done and quickly removed it? All too often it is too late and that cloudy ring is left on the lacquered surface. Yeah me either…

I have made no secret that I’m not an accomplished finisher. I tend to stick with my oil varnish blend or shellac. If I’m feeling really adventurous I will use an aerosol can of lacquer on small projects. I take the “if ain’t broke” approach and just keep using the stuff I know works. I think finishing could almost be a separate branch of woodworking much like carving or turning is. Many of us dabble in it out of necessity but only a few ever dive in completely and become masters of their domain. Furniture refinishers would be the, in my opinion, the sensei of the finishing world because not only do they have to understand many different finishes but they have to know how to fix mistakes and abuse and to blend different types of finishes. So this post is for you folks who know what they are talking about when it comes to finishing.

damaged conference table finishAt the lumber yard where I work, we have a lovely conference room upstairs filled with actual antiques. Seeing as the company has been run by the same family since 1798 there have been some pieces passed down over the years that have come to rest in this room. It is in this conference room where our story takes place. Specifically on the end leaf of our long conference/dining table. Let’s just say I’m glad I’m not the one who did this, but I’m told by our CFO that someone put a hot bowl of soup down on the table. Not directly but rather on a paper plate then on the table. I’m not sure how long it stayed there but this is the result. I was always told this white cloud was a sign of a lacquer finish but I could be wrong and I hope someone will correct me if that is the case.

More importantly, how does one fix this? If it is indeed lacquer then couldn’t we sand it away then apply more lacquer since additional coats burn into the previous? But how to best match the color that has resulted from decades of exposure to furniture polish and cleaning products and dirt and grime? If other finishes besides lacquer get this tell tale cloudy effect then how does one determine what finish we are actually dealing with?

I may be tagged with taking on this refinish job and frankly it scares the crap out of me so any insights and wisdom is much appreciated.

Your Turn

Please help me out and share your finishing wisdom. Leave your advice and know-how in the comment below please.

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