View Poll Results: What finish for that old-time 50's look?
Spar Varnish? 9 32.14%
Shellac? 6 21.43%
Tung Oil? 5 17.86%
Polyurethane? 4 14.29%
Other - please explain 4 14.29%
Voters: 28. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 02-22-2009, 02:08 AM   #43
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Originally Posted by InsideOut View Post
That's the look I'm going for. I know it is a brittle hard finish - at areas where it's chipping off, it's kind of thick, yellow, brittle and flakey if that gives any clue. If's not really checkered, but where's its scratched, it kinda lifts. I might be able to get a picture of a damaged portion of a panel if it would help ID it.

I would bet that your cabinets were refinished or re-coated with varnish or shellac at some time. the original finish in the fifties would have been a thin coat applied with a sprayer. Probably lacquer. The thick, yellow, brittle and flakey clue says a lot. The flaking is likely a varnish or shellac that was put on later with a brush. This was the most common way of repairing a finish on old cabinets. It would make them look great, but they would yellow a lot over time. Then the varnish would seperate from the lacquer and wood with time, and you would be left with thick yellow flakes falling from your woodwork.
To duplicate this requires some yellow-orange color be added to the finish. It can be done with a coat or two of shellac, to get the color right, then a coat or two of semigloss or gloss finish. sand or scotchbrite between coats, especially when changing from shellac to the next finish.
For durability I would look at the fast drying floor finishes in water based products, as stated before.
Best wishes, Rich
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Old 02-22-2009, 11:24 AM   #44
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Wow guys! Thanks for all the great information. I've been out of town this week and am still pondering my options - this helps alot! We plan on starting to finish next weekend, so we will be making our decision this week.

Shari
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Old 02-22-2009, 12:30 PM   #45
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Oh good, I'm not too late to add my two cents...

Shari,

I voted for Spar Urethane! but I should have voted other because I used both the Spar Urethane and a polyurethane both by Minwax. The poly went on all my cabinets. Sometimes I used the spray version which worked very well in places that a brush might show streaks if not done properly.

The Spar Urethane I used on my table and counter top. I could not ask for a better surface. Yellows nicely as did the poly. I believe I used the satin finish for all. My counter has been in for over 8 years and has been treated as though it was indestructible and guess what? it is! At one point I left a pot on the counter in a puddle of water for over 12 hours. Nada, no problem, no mark. Wiped up the water, washed the pot.

Oh and by the way, I hurriedly applied the finish in a neighbors garage (dirty garage) overnight and I think there are only two coats. No debris, I did thin the first coat with a little mineral spirits to avoid the over tacky results on fresh wood. (Birch veneered plywood)
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Old 03-17-2009, 12:44 AM   #46
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Well, I wanted to come back to this thread and let you all know what we decided to do...

Old wood - one coat of a 4:1 ratio of clear to amber Shellac.
New veneer/wood - one coat of amber Shellac.

Each are then brushed with four coats of General Finishes Arm-R-Seal Urethane in a Gloss finish. We sand lightly between the 2/3 and 3/4 coats of Urethane with 400 grit sand paper.

The Arm-R-Seal dries in 4-6 hours (at least here in dry CO) and flows out very nicely - no brush marks. The finished product is very smooth and shiny - like the inside of a boat. It also seems to be a very hard, durable finish after full cure.

Thanks for all the input ~

Shari
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Old 03-18-2009, 01:44 PM   #47
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I like the results, you maintained that vintage look. Thanks for the update.
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Old 03-28-2009, 07:52 PM   #48
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Shari,

You chose well, those cabinets look great!!!

I've heard lots of good things about Arm-R-Seal.

Woody
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