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stripping old paint & saving finish

jafo Member

I have come across an old Robbins Table with the original faux 1/4 sawn oak faux finish. The table has about 6- layers of paint on top....I want to save the faux finish. Is there a way to strip the layers of paint off without damaging the faux finish underneath...or am I SOL? This is a beautiful finish and doubt this can be recreated as good.....any thoughts? Thanks

9/17/15       #3: stripping old paint & saving fi ...
Paul Snyder  Member

jafo - why do you believe the table has a faux finish under all the paint? It should be solid oak.

9/20/15       #4: stripping old paint & saving fi ...
jafo Member

I have worked on numerous Robbin's tables. I restore/refinish antiques for a living. You are correct, they are solid oak, but they did a faux 1/4 sawn oak finish on top. They are extremely realistic for that time. If you didn't know any better and weren't looking for it, you would miss it. I can see some of the finish/stain on the sides which leads me to believe it is a faux finish. I will try to upload some previous Robbin's Table with faux finish and one leaf that was "stripped" to compare.

View higher quality, full size image (640 X 480)

View higher quality, full size image (640 X 480)

View higher quality, full size image (640 X 480)

9/20/15       #5: stripping old paint & saving fi ...

Just a thought by the outside chance it hasn't already occured o you...asking a fine art/museum restoration operation, because from looks of your post if l was restoring a antique I'd posing my questions to you.

9/20/15       #6: stripping old paint & saving fi ...
Paul Snyder  Member

jafo - if possible, please post some pictures that show the following details;

  • Get some close-ups of the table top where the top surface meets the edges. Pictures along the side and ends of the table as well as on the corner will provide detail of the wood grain of the top surface and how it relates with the wood grain on the edges of the table and how the wood grain wraps the corner of the table on the edges. The goal here is to determine if the top of the table is veneered.

  • Lay the table top flat and take pictures of it from each side (from slightly above and at a raking angle similar to the pictures you already posted). This is best done outside in indirect light so the wood is lit from different angles for each picture.
    If the top is made with 1/4 sawn oak, the rays and flecks in it will "pop" from one angle and go "dark" from the opposite angle.

To answer to your original question, you would need to find a solvent or solvent blend that would allow you to remove the paint without harming the original finish on the table. The original finish is almost certainly lacquer and that can be confirmed pretty easily. The paint may be latex in which case you're in luck and can remove it with xylene without damaging the lacquer. Do some testing in inconspicuous spots.

If the paint is not latex, you will need the help of an art conservator to determine the solvent(s) that can remove the paint without harming the original finish and it may take some time to complete the process (days). It's the same sort of process used to remove old varnishes from paintings that have aged badly. Truth be told though, the table you have is not worth the money required to perform this type of restoration. If the table top has a faux finish, there are other options that would offer a better ROI.

9/29/15       #7: stripping old paint & saving fi ...
jafo Member

Photos don't show you, but it does not have any veneer. I am 100% sure of that. It is solid oak, they just did a faux finish, probably indigo ink and some sort of screen print, then lacquer on top...I can strip with chemicals/scraping the layers, I just wanted to know if someone had an easier method...I will probably have to strip the clear coat off too to get all the paint off, and try to leave the ink behind...just timely process

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