When a project requires repairing an existing finish, or adding on to something where it is desired to match the existing finish, it would be helpful if we could have a record from the original craftsman as to what finish was used on the piece. Chances are slim that you will have such a luxury. Even if you are the original craftsman, sometimes it can be difficult to recall what finish was applied. So, how can you make an educated guess as to what finish is on the piece?
First, it’s helpful to play the odds. Most commonly if the piece has a film finish (one that builds up layers on top of the piece, rather than penetrating into the wood), it will likely fall into one of the following families of finishes: shellac, lacquer, or polyurethane. From there, Elisha “The Pneumatic Addict” teaches us how to use the chemical and resistance characteristics of each finish to apply a series of simple tests to determine which finish is on the piece in question.
Elisha demonstrates her approach to make new wood look old, which consists of a few simple steps:
Pick up the products that are used. Elisha provides details as to what will be needed to perform the tests that will help determine what finish is applied.
Dab the chemicals onto the finish. Proceed one at a time, in the specific order that is suggested.
Observe the results. Take your time to be sure that you have allowed the expected reaction to take place and carefully observe to see if you notice any results.
Once you have determined what finish is on the piece, check out more WWGOA content on wood finishing to help you proceed with your project.