Refinishing antique church pew

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carscampbell
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Refinishing antique church pew

Postby carscampbell » Mon Jan 04, 2021 12:42 pm

I am working on cleaning up an antique church pew. The seat and decorative molding on top of the sides is stained oak. After cleaning all the dirt off with water and elbow grease it is clear that the finish has worn off in multiple areas. Therefore I need to get all the finish off prior to refinishing. I was planning on using laquer thinner to remove the old finish. Is that the best way to go?

Also, what finish do you recommend for on this? I don't want a high gloss and was thinking of using several coats of boiled linseed oil. However, I am not sure that BLO will be durable enough for the seat back (the seat bottom will be re-upholstered). The pew gets limited use as it is by our front door, mostly for putting on and taking off boots, but I would like something durable.

TIA,

cc

AsonnyA
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Re: Refinishing antique church pew

Postby AsonnyA » Mon Jan 04, 2021 8:54 pm

Lacquer thinner is volatile and the fumes are harmful to breathe in. I use KleanStrip in the spray can, available at Walmart. If the old finish is already flaking off or coming off fairly easily, maybe just sanding the remainder is good enough.

For many of my utility pieces I use Varathane Floor finish. No matter what sheen you use.... Too shiny, simply burnish it with a ScotchBrite pad, brown paper bag, burlap. Any good poly wipe on finish should be durable enough. I wouldn't recommend any BLO or tung oil finish.

Gloss Varathane was used on this rocker, then burnished with both ScotchBrite pad (legs, rockers, other frame parts, bottom of seat, back of backrest) and brown paper bag (arm rests, front of seat & backrest). Long term use, the seat & backrest will end up shiny again from the long term rubbing.... same for your pew.
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