Friday, July 29, 2011

Nightstand number two and other fun stuff

Well my client was very pleased with their first nightstand and brought in the second one. I thought the first one was a challenge. Boy was I kidding myself. If possible the second one looked even worse than the first one and appeared to have been used as a candle holder. Lots of wax and some major burns in the top.

I obviously couldn't make any promises with this one..

That said I used the same techniques as the first and even I was suprised by how well it turned out. Client is supposed to be by tomorrow and I would say they will probably not recognize this one either.

Not perfect but managed to get the burns down to a shadow of what they were originally.

While I was working on the nightstand I was also busy refinishing some nice vintage Thonet bentwood chairs that a friend of mine was kind enough to swap for some seat recovery work. These were fun as it was the first time working on these chairs. Very well made and reasonably easy to disassemble to work on.

I used the same wheat finish that I used on the nightstand but with only two coats to replicate the process I used in refinishing a Heywood Wakefield Ashcraft dinette table a while back. I recovered the seats in a nice vintage barkcloth fabric that goes great with period and feel of the pieces. They make a great match for the table and I now have up for sale at Kaleidoscope.

If you need to have some of your pieces refinished please feel free to contact me or stop by  Kaleidoscope @ 6415 N. Florida Ave. here in Tampa, Fl 33604 813-234-5800.  We're open Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday from 11-6. 11-8 on Thursday and 11-4 on Sunday.
We have a bunch more midcentury and designer items for your consideration. I'm usually in the store on Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays or shoot me and e-mail if you have any questions @
Thanks for taking a look. Try to be a bit more regular about posting for those of you interested In MCM in general and Heywood Wakefield specifically.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Final episode of the Heywood Wakefield M148 night stand refinishing

Originally I intended to run this project over the course of 3 posts but found I didn't have time so here is the conclusion to our refinishing job. When we left our subject we had finished sanding and were ready to start putting down the first of 4 coats of finish. Before putting down the first coat you need to get as much dust and debris off the pieces as possible and clean up the work area. I have a rather large volumne compressor with a blow gun attachment that works well. A lot of people have suggested tack clothes but I don't want to chance contaminating the surface with any substance on the cloth. The toned varnish is applied with a clean white lint free cotton rag.

Here's how we look after the first coat.

The first coat basically seals the wood and should be applied liberally but you don't want to leave any heavy spots you'll have to deal with later. After this is completely dry we break out the 0000 steel wool and go over all the pieces thoroughly to get any imperfections and debris off the surface. It's fine to be rough with the steel wool this go round as it's going to get 3 more coats and you want to be a bit anal about getting everything smoothed out between each coat. This is a lot of work after the first coat but gets much easier with each application. Time for next coat...

Starting to make progress!
Again we will go over each piece with the steel wool however this time it will be easier with less imperfections to smooth out. You still need to be careful as you don't want to seal any trash between the finishes.

After 3 coats you will have a pretty good idea of what your piece is going to look like. The finish is building up nicely and has a nice even sheen and the color is really popping. One more coat and were done with this stage. If you want less grain to show through the finish you can add more coats. I find 4 coats to look great with just the right amount of grain showing.

 Time for reassembly!
When you take a piece apart you would normally start from the bottom and work your way up through the piece. We reverse the process reassembling being careful to use the same screws in the same areas. I marked all the hardware when I disassembled so this won't be a problem. Here's our empress fully clothed and put back together

No, it's not magic, just a passion to make it beautiful again.
Although I couldn't make this piece as perfect as I would have liked it still turned out great and I'm sure my client is going to love it.
If you want to see some of the pieces I have refinished in person stop by our store Kaleidoscope at 6415 N. Florida Ave. here in Tampa 33604 in lovely and freindly Seminole Heights. We are open everyday but Monday. You can also keep tabs on us on our Facebook page for new items and special deals.
Thanks for following along. Please feel free to contact me with any questions or just post a comment on this blog.
A Modern Line

Friday, July 8, 2011

Anatomy of a Heywood Wakefield Kohinoor M148 nightstand refinishing

A funny thing happened the other day, this guy walks into a bar...
Oops...Sorry,that's another story.
This is actually a true documentary with some pics about a recent/ongoing project. A customer of ours was interested in selling a H/W bed and although she decided to keep the bed, she had a couple of things to refinsh. This is a synopsis of the refinishing of the first of two nightstands. It's a Kohinoor M148 which were made from '48-51'. I've been refinishing H/W for about the last 9-10 years and although there are people out there that have been collecting and selling longer, I think I've seen I think almost every condition that it can be seen. At this point I have refinished hundreds of pieces of mine as well as many pieces for other clients. If you have an interest in buying and refinishing H/W you are welcome to follow along...
I have no idea what my client paid for this piece but if I saw it in a yard sale in the condition it's in, I might  go $20 max. It's in realy rough shape. Scale of 1-10 I'd probably give it a 3.
Now let the fun begin....
First we are going to disassemble...

This nightstand does not appear to have been refinished. It was originally champagne but the client would prefer in wheat. Not a problem as this baby is going back down to her birthday suit anyway. The piece has a couple of major flaws. There are divots in the front of the drawer pull that are either factory fills, which I doubt, or are holes that someone has used wood putty to fill, although long ago. There are also heavy stains on the right side facing on the top. I would guess to be either an oil or ink of some kind. These are the kind of flaws to watch out for when considering buying a piece. Not the ideal candidate but I've worked on worse pieces! I've found that a lot of cabinets don't need to be completely dissaembled, however, if there is a back panel that needs to be done or an interior space, it's easier to take it all down as it was in the case of this particular piece.

Not a bunch of fun to take down but will be worth it in the longer term..

Now that we have the patient in pieces and laid out it's time to break out the sander. I don't use chemical strippers. You are going to have to sand these pieces in the long run anyway and it's messy, expensive, and environmentally a non-starter. That said, you need to be careful of what grit paper you use and where it's most efficient. Large flat surfaces are ideal for a 60 grit start. You can cut to the chase, so to speak, and not make any structural changes. The last thing you want to do is take away the beautiful and graceful lines that make this furniture desirable. However major blemishes are more quickly and easily worked out with a lower grit paper. I use 150 in the second stage and work over the same areas and more towards the slightly more delicate spots taking care not to "reshape" the existing lines. I finish with a 220 for the balance also taking great pains not to change the lines in the pieces.
Here's our subject first after the first go round and again ready to start putting down it's new "clothes".

Here's how we look after the first sand.

Dark stain is obvious on top left corner of top piece. This is deep in the wood and will not sand out. Divots in the drawer pull smoothed out and shouldn't look too bad after refinish but will likely show a bit but not enough to detract from the overall job. Trying to rectify is likely to make matters worse than better. Just hoping the toner in the finish will knock down enough it won't be too noticable.
I've determined the top is a good candidate to try some wood bleach as this stain needs to be at least lightened as best as possible and there are enough other questionable areas that could stand some lightening as well. Although the results were less than perfect I did manage to lighten the stain appreciably and it helped with the rest of the dark areas of the top as well.

Looking much better but sometimes you can only do so much!

Have to wrap up this particular post for now. It's time to layout our pieces and get ready to apply our empresses new "clothes". I doubt her owner will recognize this piece as the one they brought to me a couple of weeks ago. Stay tuned if you feel so inclined as I will be continuing the final processes and posting of the work with more pics of our lady totally done.
For those of you who follow this blog and may have tried to post before, I apologize as a friend of mine made me aware that her posts would not take. I've changed my settings and now anyone interested may post any comments, after review, and please feel free to contact me with any questions at  Thanks for taking a look!