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Advise on Lovig-Nielsen flip top desk restoration

Product design
- 25 Feb 2018 -
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Product design

I bought this desk last fall, in my garage since, as I have been intimidated to refinish. Now is time to tackle, any advise appreciated on how to treat these desks:

- It has surface dirt, how best to clean - mineral spirits, Murphy's Oil soap, oils (teak, lemon, mineral) or other? Scotch Brite pads or steel wool?

- How to prepare for finish after cleaning? Any sanding or stripping for even application/soaking of finish?

- What is recommended finish on these desks? What is the original finish? There is a slight sheen and surface hardness on mine, but I don't believe it's ever been refinished. Did the Danes use varnish or even lacquer on teak? I understand that teak oil alone is best finish for teak.

- Lastly, there are some deep scratches on a drawer. Should I try the moist towel and iron method, or courting disaster?

Any other advice appreciated, this is a really nice piece, thx!

Advise on Lovig-Nielsen flip top desk restoration
United States


- 25 Feb 2018

The finish is thick lacquer on this desk. Murphy’s would clean it well. The veneer is thin and there is a lot of particle board in these desks. The legs are even teak veneer.

- 27 Feb 2018

You can see how thin the veneer is on the edge of that damaged drawer. I'd steam them once I stripped it. Hit it quick with 80 grit only over the scratches...maybe like 4 passes max. I kind of go by feel. Then I would fill what's left. Probably best left to experienced hands.

- 27 Feb 2018

But you will likely have to do some filling and grain painting in those deep scratches. Steaming will remove some of the softer dents.

- 27 Feb 2018

My process for this would be to disassemble as much as you can. Strip lacquer with a methyl chloride stripper. Clean up with lacquer thinner. Steam dents where you can, then carefully sand with an orbital at 150 (EDIT: on the flat surfaces... hand sand edge banding). Fill deep scratches and replace any missing bits with epoxy putty (I use Kwikwood). Block sand with the grain at 180 and smooth all the fills. Shoot a thinned coat of lacquer on it. Then use pigment powders mixed into thinned Shellac to paint the color and grain onto the filled epoxy (the thin coat of lacquer gives you the color to match here). When satisfied with that, shoot two more coats of lacquer. If you wanted to add glaze or toner, do that before the final coats of lacquer. Then put it all back together.

- 27 Feb 2018

If you want to remove scratches, you need to use the sandpaper that says scratch removal. 120 and up are finishing grits. Starting with 150 is incorrect on an open pore wood like teak. Also using an orbital is going to sand all the veneer off those edges on the desk drawers among other places. I've worked on this desk before.

- 27 Feb 2018

Post edited.

If your concern is sanding through the veneer, don't use 80 grit. 150 may not cut as fast, but that's kinda the idea. It's plenty safe to use an orbital as long as your keep it moving, watch your work, and don't get carried away. If you're uncomfortable with that, do it all by hand with a block. But you really should not worry about what it says on the package of the sandpaper...

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