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Refinishing Old Wood [Update] [Lock Please]

FiggyFiggy Registered User regular
edited September 2011 in Help / Advice Forum
So my fiancee, her brother, and her father built a tree house in their backyard many, many years ago. Her mother and father later got divorced. The tree house stood as a sort of reminder of her happy childhood days as she grew up. A few months back, her mother decided it was time to tear the old thing down--it wasn't safe, and the last thing she needs is some neighbourhood kid sneaking in and getting hurt/killed. The trouble is, my fiancee did not know this was happening, and she only learned about it the next time she went to visit her mother. She was upset that she wasn't there to watch.

Unbeknownst to her, I managed to salvage the trap door.
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I'd like to do something with this. Specifically, I'd like to refinish it and have a phrase engraved in the corner. Something along the lines of "In childhood, we press our nose to the pane, looking out. In memories of childhood, we press our nose to the pane, looking in." Or something else.

I've already got a quote on what it would cost me to get it framed, but I'd like to do the refinishing/engraving myself. What would I use on this wood? I don't want to stain it necessarily. I figure I'll wash it, sand it down a tiny bit, and put a coat of something on there. Urethane? What would give it a clean, almost shiny look? If it made it a slightly different shade, that's fine too.

Any ideas?

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Posts

  • wmelonwmelon Registered User regular
    polyurethane would be a good choice, even if you decided to stain it. Should be pretty simple to put on, it comes either in spray cans or as a brush on. Just make sure you do it in a well ventilated area.

  • Angel177Angel177 Registered User regular
    Have you any experience with engraving? I only ask as, its a bitch if this is your first project, Its a great, thoughtful project but if you have no experience, IT might come out looking like arse.

    If the answer is a yes, Find someone else who has the skills to do it, Or possibly laserprint it, you can then get fancy with the font.

    Once again GREAT idea.

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  • FiggyFiggy Registered User regular
    wmelon wrote:
    polyurethane would be a good choice, even if you decided to stain it. Should be pretty simple to put on, it comes either in spray cans or as a brush on. Just make sure you do it in a well ventilated area.

    Would you recommend staining it? There are very light/clear stains that simply enhance the wood grain, right?

    Also, should I do something about that crack? It's going to be framed anyway and hung on a wall, but it might be in the family room, which sees humidity levels around 70% occasionally during the summer months (when we don't have the dehumidifier running). I'm concerned about further cracking.

    XBL : Figment3 · SteamID : Figment
  • FiggyFiggy Registered User regular
    Angel177 wrote:
    Have you any experience with engraving? I only ask as, its a bitch if this is your first project, Its a great, thoughtful project but if you have no experience, IT might come out looking like arse.

    If the answer is a yes, Find someone else who has the skills to do it, Or possibly laserprint it, you can then get fancy with the font.

    Once again GREAT idea.

    I have very little engraving experience, but I'm leaning more toward having it printed on there. I seem to remember some sort of transfer paper that exists where you kind of line up a letter, rub the back, and it goes on.

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  • matt has a problemmatt has a problem Points to 'off' Points to 'on'Registered User regular
    Don't wash it. Don't sand it. Clear polyurethane it if you're set on it(preferably with a "satin" finish poly) and leave it how it is, weathered. It's never going to look like "new" again, and trying to restore it will just take away from it. Honestly, I wouldn't do anything to it, if it's not going to be out in the elements it's not going to degrade any more. How it looks now is the history of that piece of wood.

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  • FiggyFiggy Registered User regular
    I'm more interested in doing this as a piece of art made from a sentimental piece of wood, rather than just hanging a sentimental piece of wood. I'm also getting it framed, and it's likely going to be somewhat ornate. So, a dirty old wooden door would clash with that, I think.

    Also, wouldn't applying urethane without prepping the wood just result in a blotchy, bumpy, sticky mess?

    XBL : Figment3 · SteamID : Figment
  • matt has a problemmatt has a problem Points to 'off' Points to 'on'Registered User regular
    As long as there isn't any loose material, it should be fine. Apply multiple coats of course. My point was more, it's a sentimental piece of wood because of its history, and its history is the reason it looks how it does. Sanding it down and cleaning it up to make it look new and perfect doesn't change what it is of course, but can affect the attachment to it, for the same reason an antique chair or dresser that's been in someone's family for a long time is usually pretty banged up and rough looking. Every scratch and chip in it is what gives it that sentimentality.

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  • KatarineKatarine Registered User
    I agree on the point that it's sentimental because of its history and by re-finishing it you could end up just eliminating that history. Don't stain it though, for the love of bob, don't. Polyurethane would be what I would use and I would definitely suggest at least 5 coats, though my old woodworking instructors would tell you that you need at least 10 coats (truthfully I never did that many). If you absolutely feel like you must prep the wood more than simply removing loose material, grab a very fine-grit finish sanding block and lightly pass over it to remove any sharp bumps in the wood; just be careful not to remove too much and make it look a mess.

    The humidity is less of an issue, especially if you're talking about a weather-beaten trap door. I'm assuming that you'll be hanging this inside the house, in which case it is in a more controlled environment than it's used to and should be fine.

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  • FiggyFiggy Registered User regular
    edited August 2011
    I guess "refinishing" is the wrong word. I'm more interested in just cleaning it up, so it's not a dusty, muddy hunk of deck lumber. The deep stains, the cracks, the chips, etc will all still be there.

    I've washed it and sanded it. It was gloriously filthy. I'm going to use graphite paper to trace on the phrasing and then start applying coats of polyurethane. Is there a preferred method of how to apply the coats? The directions say to do three coats, 20 minutes apart, and then a fourth coat in 24-72 hours.

    Time is somewhat of the essence, as the framing place has a 50% off sale going on right now. Then again, they have that sale all the time.

    Figgy on
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  • LewieP's MummyLewieP's Mummy Registered User regular
    Why not just coat it in some teak oil - it will bring the grain out beautifully, put back a little of the colour without masking the ravages of time. I think its a wonderful idea, and would love to see the finished piece!

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  • FiggyFiggy Registered User regular
    edited August 2011
    Words are on. The graphite paper worked. but it wasn't quite dark enough. I had to go over it in ink, which I'm hoping won't smear or bleed once I do the poly.
    78861765.jpg

    Figgy on
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  • Angel177Angel177 Registered User regular
    Why not just coat it in some teak oil - it will bring the grain out beautifully, put back a little of the colour without masking the ravages of time. I think its a wonderful idea, and would love to see the finished piece!

    I'll second the teak oil idea, but If your going to use ink get some hairspray and go over the writing first before you start writing, I draw on t-shirts and it stops the ink from bleeding.

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  • Forbe!Forbe! Registered User regular
    edited August 2011
    Teak oil works wonders for these things. At the very most, hit it with a stiff brush to get any heavy debris off, then hit it with some cheese cloth/0000 steel wool to remove the dust, then finish with a coat of oil/polyurethane. Butchers Paste Wax and Johnsons Paste Wax will do something similar. It will darken the wood up a bit and pop the grain out.

    Edit:

    Not sure what you mean by 'engraving'. Were you planning on chiseling the words in there? I would probably lean away from chiseling on that material, which appears to be some type of white wood. You'll just end up with a lot of tear-out and illegible words.

    I think you have the right idea with printing it on there.

    Forbe! on
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  • KatarineKatarine Registered User
    Forbe! wrote:
    Teak oil works wonders for these things. At the very most, hit it with a stiff brush to get any heavy debris off, then hit it with some cheese cloth/0000 steel wool to remove the dust, then finish with a coat of oil/polyurethane. Butchers Paste Wax and Johnsons Paste Wax will do something similar. It will darken the wood up a bit and pop the grain out.

    Totally seconding the paste wax; that stuff does awesome things for wood! Even if you use teak oil though, I love me some water-based poly to help give a protective coat. I've never been the biggest fan of teak oil on white woods. It turns Ash very yellow, for example. It can be great for some woods, and others not as much.

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  • Forbe!Forbe! Registered User regular
    Yep. You can get Johnsons paste wax at just about any hardware store. I use it as a final finish on my metalwork. For wood, I would just rub a nice layer on and let it sit for 10-15 minutes. Wipe the excess off, then buff the surface with a cloth (old t-shirts or socks are what I use).

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  • FiggyFiggy Registered User regular
    If I had more time I'd definitely try out these suggestions on the back and see what looks best.

    I've been doing a coat of poly every few hours and it's starting to look really nice. The printing ending up indenting into the wood a little bit because I was pressing so hard, so it almost looks like it was burned or etched into the wood. It's coming along.

    XBL : Figment3 · SteamID : Figment
  • FiggyFiggy Registered User regular
    edited September 2011
    It's done! Thanks for the tips everyone!

    It looks a lot shinier in these pics because of the flash.

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    This thread can be locked.

    Figgy on
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  • Dropping LoadsDropping Loads Registered User regular
    This is amazing, bravo sir.

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This discussion has been closed.