good finish for inlaid table top

Old 09-30-18, 09:35 AM
Thread Starter
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: USA
Posts: 66
Upvotes: 0
Received 0 Upvotes on 0 Posts
good finish for inlaid table top

I'm trying to figure out the best way to rejuvenate/smooth an old finish on an inlaid table top that's designed to be under glass.

This is an old inlaid table top that was handmade back in the early 1940s. When it was made it was put under a thick piece of glass and framed all around the edges; the inlaid wood has been under glass for about 75 years now, with a spacer about 1/16" between the glass and the inlaid wood so they don't touch.

The glass has a crack in it and and I'm getting the glass replaced with a new piece of glass.

I removed the inlaid top from the frame and overall it's not bad but I noticed that the finish had deteriorated in places, and there is also a lighter spot about the size of a quarter. Please see attached photo. I'd like to rejuvenate/smooth out the finish if I can, before putting the table back together with a new piece of glass. I don't think I want to try to blend the light spot because I don't want to risk ruining it.

For smoothing out the finish, is there a thin light finish that someone could recommend to put on, to set it up for the next 70 years or so under glass? Maybe a rub on oil finish, something like that?

Looking forward to your suggestions.
Attached Images  
Old 09-30-18, 10:25 AM
Marq1's Avatar
Join Date: Sep 2016
Location: USA MI
Posts: 9,745
Received 1,210 Upvotes on 1,098 Posts
There inst much you are going to be able to do too touch up/smooth out short of sanding down the entire top, staining, and putting on a new clear coat.

Ive done several of our coffee tables, dining tables, end tables over the years that would be what I would do!
Old 09-30-18, 10:32 AM
Forum Topic Moderator
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: USA - N.E.Tn
Posts: 45,619
Received 824 Upvotes on 722 Posts
Sometimes a light sanding is good enough for putty on fresh coat of finish. After sanding, wipe the top down with a rag wet with mineral spirits - that will let you know what the top would look like with a fresh coat of finish. I'd use polyurethane.
Old 09-30-18, 12:52 PM
Group Moderator
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: WI/MN
Posts: 19,115
Received 1,262 Upvotes on 1,203 Posts
Oil based polyurethane would be my choice, Mark spelled out the process.
Old 09-30-18, 01:08 PM
XSleeper's Avatar
Group Moderator
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 27,022
Received 1,900 Upvotes on 1,706 Posts
I would not give up on the finish-or give much advice- before I knew what the old finish is. A lot of old furniture was shellac, which can sometimes be restored with a little care. First thing I would try is a cotton ball and some denatured alcohol. Try it on an inconspicuous area, it will sometimes melt a bit of the old wax which you can then let dry... and see if the finish is slightly restored. These types of finishes can often be spruced up without losing the antique nature of the finish.

Refinishing (with something like poly) may not necessarily be as straight forward as just sanding and putting on a new coat of a different finish.
Old 09-30-18, 02:58 PM
Marq1's Avatar
Join Date: Sep 2016
Location: USA MI
Posts: 9,745
Received 1,210 Upvotes on 1,098 Posts
I'd use polyurethane.
Just a suggestion, for furniture you guys should try some of the water based urethanes, not the cheap Minwax krap, I use Old Masters.

You will never use conventional urethane/varnish again!!

Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Ask a Question
Question Title:
Your question will be posted in: