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Refinishing Selig guitar pick table - rails and legs construction?

- 12 Jun 2018 -
14 posts / 0 new

Hi Everyone

First post here, hoping someone more experienced could help me out. I picked up a selig guitar pick table recently in pretty bad condition, the previous owner started refinishing the top but gave up mid way. Yesterday I completed sanding the top and it looks great, so I decided to continue with the rails and legs so everything would match once i was done.

I assumed the legs and rails would be solid teak which I believe is what the top is (?), but was surprised the rail appears to be strips of laminated wood. You can see the parallel lines in the picture, and it is also much lighter in tone than the top and much much lighter than how it was finished originally.

Does anyone know whats going on here, what wood this is? Did I mess up trying to refinish the rails and legs? Were they stained originally? I've only done one side so far so I could always face that towards the wall but I was really hoping to completely refinish the piece.


Refinishing Selig guitar pick table - rails and legs construction?
coffee & side tables
1950 - 1959


- 12 Jun 2018

Top is likely plywood with solid, lipped edge banding Possibly walnut.

Sanded rail appears as beech. Impossible to tell legs with that dark finish on them.

- 12 Jun 2018

I believe tk is right. Top is walnut veneer, with solid walnut edge trim, and stained beech rail/legs below.

- 12 Jun 2018

And the lines that you noticed demarcate seasonal growth rings present in solid beech. The relatively even spacing suggests a managed timber forest as the source, btw. There would be no reason to laminate a straight, flat component like the rail in your photos.

- 13 Jun 2018

I agree with walnut and stained beech. And the design was NOT by Poul Jensen. These tables were designed by Knud & Erik Christensen.

- 13 Jun 2018

thank you for all the info, very informative. I guess my best bet will be to try to stain the sanded rail to match the other ones, and finish the top. Any recommendations for the top? I was thinking general finishes arm r seal or a similar oil/varnish blend.

- 13 Jun 2018

The original was tinted lacquer. It is not easy to match this at home. Perhaps a gel stain would work. A tinted oil finish will not match the original at all.

- 13 Jun 2018

I agree with the Leif. The only way that is ever going to look as it originally did is with tinted lacquer. There are other ways, but they are certainly out of your skill set if you have to ask.

You may have to stain the beech frame first, and then lacquer over that to get them dark enough.

Are the legs walnut, or beech?

- 13 Jun 2018

the legs are beech i believe, definitely not walnut or any darker wood. I have only sanded one side of one rail, which I stained with minwax dark walnut oil stain. as you can see (on the right) it's quite different in color and you can still see the grain and lines of the beech unlike the original. This is after one coat.

I'm pretty open to trying different things, either restarting and trying a gel stain or continuing with more coats of the oil stain then lacquer. Tinted you mean adding a dye to lacquer, or are there premade products you recommend? I'm not set up for spraying.

was the top also originally done with tinted lacquer? i never saw the original finish but assume they would do it differently than the beech wood.

ultimately i will hide this side of the table when i can.


- 14 Jun 2018

Beech has very dense rays that absorb very little oil contrasted with wood that does absorb it, so a tinted oil just accentuates the ray pattern. A tinted lacquer is more like a semi transparent layer over the top with the tint in it so it colors everything evenly.

I retract my idea about a gel stain. It will just make everything worse.

- 14 Jun 2018

Oh, and I think they did the top the same as the beech wood. I’ve seen plenty of Selig tables with a lacquer finished top. People expect walnut to be uniformly dark, when in fact it is often very mottled with areas that fade into lighter sapwood. So Walnut was always stained too to make it uniformly dark.

Americans have very little appreciation for the natural beauty of wood. It is regarded as a blank canvas for any color stain one wants, and unstained wood is unacceptable.

I don’t have a lot of respect for these low end stained Selig pieces because of this. This happened because Selig was an American company. I usually advocate for originality, but today, I am going to advocate for just getting rid of all the lacquer and the dark walnut minwax oil you put on, and just put on an untinted oil finish. Treat the poor thing better than it was meant to be treated. It is walnut and beech.

- 14 Jun 2018

I agree with Leif again.

you are going to find it to be quite the endeavor to match the sanded with the unsanded portions. The tinted lacquer (or toner) has aged/oxidized, which makes it even harder to match. Stains are not going to work, it has to be a toner or tinted film finish. Just be thankful it was not one of the walnut-colored toners that turned green, which were common from this time period.

At this point, I would sand the whole thing down, and finish with numerous coats of oil. If you are intent on protecting the top of the table for heavy use, you can use one or two coats of ARM-R-Seal, no more, or the film builds too much. Only use it on the top, as it is too thin for application on vertical members, and I would wait for a few weeks until the oil is good and cured, before applying the Arm-R-Seal.

Sure, the even walnut tone has its place, but so does naturally finished beech/walnut pieces. When finished naturally in oil, it will slowly darken with age.

- 15 Jun 2018

i agree with you guys...i think it's crazy they would use the same lacquer finish on the top as they did on the beech considering how much it clouds the natural beauty of the walnut.

i was considering arm r seal due to all the good reviews it gets on woodworking forums... i'm worried because there is very little veneer left so refinishing might not be an option in the future. definitely don't want to heavy of a finish though. never tried pure oil due to long curing times but maybe a danish oil will be best of both worlds.

i'll finish the top in a couple weeks then decide how it looks with the current rails and legs. i don't love the ray pattern of the beech but maybe i'll end up going that way.

thanks again

- 15 Jun 2018

ARM-R-SEAL is a wiping varnish, which only means that it has far more solvent (thinner) than a formulation that is predominantly resin (all polys, varnishes, alkyds, etc. are some mixture of resin, solvent, and other chemicals)

Danish Oil and Watco Teak Oil are a blend of linseed oil, resin, thinner, and often drying agents. These will cure far faster than straight tung oil, linseed oil, or boiled linseed oil. Also, since they typically have a little resin in them, they will build a film ... eventually. If you have low humidity and higher temperatures (75F or higher), oil will cure pretty quickly. you could do one coat per day for 3-5 days, then 2-3 coats per week for a week, then let it sit for a week or two, it will be a very thin film, that is reasonably protective. The Watco teak oil seems to have the highest resin content of the Watco products, as it seemingly film builds faster than the danish oil. (This is somewhat dependent on the viscosity of your product too; I have cans of oil that are near their end or have been left open , and the solvent has flashed off, making them thicker and more resin-rich. The teak oil will also impart a little darkness to the wood, and is not just for teak. The colored Danish Oils will have a tendency to make the beech blotchy, and will soak differently into the rays, so I would test this out on a sample piece of beech first to see if it is what you want.

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