Saturday, April 16, 2022

Dining Room Wood Finishing

It seemed that the interior wood finishing of our dining room would never get to final finishing stage.  To recap, the woodwork of our 1914 craftsman home was under decades of paint.  We started paint stripping in 2019 soon after purchasing the house.  The situation went from bad to worse.  Turns out that portions of the millwork had been sanded back to raw wood sometime in the 1950s (approx).  There were several coats of lead based paint in direct contact with the wood, which makes it next to impossible to to remove the paint.  Therefore, we resorted to sanding almost all of the millwork back to raw wood in the dining room.

Our goal is restore the millwork back to the early 1900s finishes.  It is becoming harder and harder for the DIYer to find the products necessary to restore woodwork with the finishes that would've been used during that time period.  Todays stains, gels and polyurethane finishes just don't reproduce the depth or richness found in historical finishes. 

In comes Dalys.  Dalys is a small scale finish manufacturer/producer located in the Pacific Northwest.  It always helps to know a guy when you approach a project like this.  Brian is our guy.  During the summer of 2021 we sent a small piece of millwork to Brian at Dalys for finish matching.  We also sent a sanded raw piece of matching millwork to him so that he could test his match.  From there, he sent us the following finishing products:

Here, you see the following products:

  • Benite - Wood conditioner that treats and hardens the wood.  Brian's tests were producing splotched results due to the age of the millwork.  This pre-conditioner treats the wood work and prepares it to receive the final finishes.  It hardens the wood by 10-15%.
  • Aniline Water Dye - This dyes the woodwork the base/background color.  This is custom mixed to produce the red/orange tones that are present in our original finishes.  
  • Oil Based Wood Stain - This is a custom mixed wood stain that brings our the darker tones of the millwork grain.  
  • Blonde Dewaxed Shellac Flakes - Flakes used to mix shellac.  We are still running tests to find the right cut/color of shellac to reproduce the color and original luster of the woodwork.
Just when we thought we had everything ready we discovered that denatured alcohol and related products have been outlawed for sale in California.  WHY?!?!?!?!  Pure grain alcohol or denatured alcohol is what's used to dissolve shellac flakes.  We had to mail order alcohol out of state so that we can mix the shellac.  Just be aware if you live in California you will have extra red tape.  How frustrating.

At this point we have applied the Benite wood conditioner and are ready to do the final 220 grit sanding.  For this process, we are taking it down to 220 grade because we're using a water based dye.  This EXTREMELY dry 100+ year old woodwork wants to soak up the water based dye which can make it much too dark.  The 220 sanding will close the grain and prevent it from soaking up as much dye.  

In the picture with the products you'll see our test board.  Here, we have applied the Benite, dye and stain to an original piece of the millwork.  Always do a test before you apply it to the wall.  Results will vary depending on the species of wood, the age and many other factors.

The next step is to do the final sanding and then apply the dye & stain.  We also need to start the process of mixing the shellac and finalizing a cut and color.  

Looking forward to posting some final results photos in the coming weeks!  2 1/2 years in the making....


Unknown said...

Great article! Looking forward to seeing the finished product.... I think the hard work will be worth it.

Sharon Kwilter said...

It's going to be beautiful. I'm grateful that when we finished our wood we could buy alcohol at our local store.

Ken said...

Thank you so much! I have a similar goal and live about 50 miles from Dalys and have used their products. Looking forward to seeing the results!