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Old 03-08-2008, 19:21   #1
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Oiled cabinerty

My boat is a 26 year old beauty with oiled cabin cabinetry. I was pursing Yacht World and noticed all the other Orions have MUCH lighter cabinetry. Over the years I have oiled my wood and it looks fine till I realized how dark it has gotten. Anybody have any experience removing the old oiled finish? Sanding is not a viable option, just too much area to cover and I am feared that it would not match up.

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Jay
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Old 03-08-2008, 21:00   #2
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I work with lots of old wood finishes (most recently, matching new and old finishes on a 1922 Rolls-Royce, boat-tail, designed by Olin Stephens). First, do no harm. Find a representative grain and color on the existing cabinetry that isn't easily seen. This could be the underside of a drawer lip, an obscure corner, you get the picture. Start first with a white cotton towel or rag, dipped in denatured alcohol. Gently rub a small section of the oiled wood, in the direction of the grain, then let it dry. Look at it very carefully, under strong lighting. Also notice what came off onto the white rag. If this works for you, then try it GENTLY on a whole object, such as a drawer face or back of a cabinet door. Still okay? Move on to a whole cabinet. What you are trying to do is damage as little as possible should you screw up.

Now, say you are successful, but you want it even lighter. Try repeating the first trick. If that doesn't really do it for you, move to the next phase. 3M makes a variety of rubbing pads, in different levels of scouring ability. Get a fine pad and gently rub the wood, again, in the direction of the grain, then wipe with the cotton rag. You will now be moving into the mechanical removal phase of cleaning old finish. Be VERY careful about skipping too quickly up to heavier grades of abrasive pads, you can do real damage if you aren't careful.

Now, you are at the stage where the color is just about right. The problem is that you have discovered why cabinetmakers use dark stains and oils - to make up for the lack of uniformity in different woods accepting stain. If some of your wood is mottled, or completely different than others, you have to play the same game in reverse. Fortunately, it's a simple matter of doing what you had been doing for years.

Pick an oil you feel good about using on the boat. Oil all of the wood with the same stuff. Now, for the lighter bits, you have to make a custom stained oil. You will have to look at the color in a strong, white (daylight or 5000K flourescent). The color may need one or two key colors, besides the obvious brown. A professional furniture finish supplier (look under antique repair suppliers) will be able to provide you with very small amounts of various colors (we're talking drops here, not pints). Add the colors to sample jars of your regular oil and apply them. If they don't work, remove them with the alcohol.

It's a pain, but it works and doesn't ruin the cabinets.
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Old 04-08-2008, 11:32   #3
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Thumbs up Thanks Roy

Roy Thanks for the help, everybody learned something from your reply!!
Thanks
Jay
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Old 05-08-2008, 08:46   #4
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Cape Ann teak cleaner will remove the old oil in a very gentle way, recoat with Sutherland Wells pure china tung oil, beautiful
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Old 05-08-2008, 09:08   #5
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Look on the side of the label of the teak cleaner to identify the ingredients of the product, before applying. Then try the simplest, least destructive method of cleaning FIRST. If you are not satisfied, then try the cleaner ON A SMALL, OBSCURE AREA to confirm that there is no bad consequence. Many cleaners use oxalic acid or other mildly reactive ingredients to breakdown the surface coatings. Remember the maxim: "First, do no harm".

I prefer tung oil as my base for custom oil stains. I get it at a local woodworker supply called Rockler. It will accept small amounts of alcohol based dyes for tinting. Tung oil is almost useless for exterior applications. For those I use Deks-Olje, a Scandinavian product that is a bit more durable and can be topcoated, after curing, with UV-protective varnish, such as Z-Spar Captain's varnish. A trick that I learned is to apply the tung oil, OR VARNISH (!) using the finest 3-M abrasive pad dipped in the finish, then rubbed with the grain and excess wipped off before drying. It's like the technique known as French Polishing. It abrades the finest hairs of wood fiber or the teeniest dust particles, resulting in a finish that seems to have an internal glow, and doesn't build up too great a thickness coating.
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