Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Two Down, Two To Go…Sort Of

I stripped the shellac on the second side yesterday. It came out better than the first one did, but more importantly it came out different. This is not a good thing. The doors should match. If you recall, the doors were stored in a barn with one of the doors face up, stacked on top of the other. The face up side of the top door really took a beating. It was caked with dirt and grime and the shellac pretty much became one with the dirt.

After I stripped it I thought it looked kind of dark and after I stripped the other one it was obvious that it was darker. I’ve stripped acres of redwood and this door just didn’t have the rosy red glow I’m accustom to seeing. Once I got the other door stripped of shellac it was obvious there was a problem. I posted a question about the problem over at The Old House Web and a few responses came back. StuccoHouse suggested that moister had gotten in the wood and had darkened it. Others suggested there was still more shellac on it. I think both were right.

When I stripped the first door – the bad one caked with dirt – I used #2 steel wool to get the dirt and most of the shellac off. I then went over it with denatured alcohol and #000 steel wool. On the other door, because the shellac was mostly intact, I started with my trusty heat gun and then finished up with #1 steel wool and alcohol. The #000 just wasn’t cutting it with the fresher shellac. The picture below is what I had after one pass on each door. You can see how the one on the right is much darker.

Then today I went back over it with #1 steel wool and alcohol. I did get off a lot more shellac. I got pretty much all of it off. You can tell that you have got most everything because the alcohol is just a light tan when you wipe it off with the paper towels. The wood is still too dark. I’ve never encountered redwood that looked like this after stripping off shellac. If anything it should be lighter not darker than the other door. When you go too far with stripping the wood gets very light. Below is what the doors look like right now. The one on the right is the one I went over again today.

So the question is where do I go from here. I’m not sure how far this darkness extends in to the wood. I’m also not sure how noticeable it will be when the new shellac is on. I think it will be noticeable, but the question is: How Noticeable. One option is to start sanding, but as I said, I’m not sure how deep it is. I would more than likely do more harm than good if I tried to sand away the problem.

The plan now is to let the doors sit over night and make sure all the alcohol has evaporated. I’ll then see if I can bring the wood back to life with a little BLO and turpentine. Another, but even more drastic option, would be to try and stain the other door to match the darker one. I don’t like that idea at all. We’ll see.


Gary said...

Couldn't find you any door hardware today. We may go to another mall tomorrow. Anyway, regarding the doors. Put two coats of amber shellac on both sides and if one is still lighter then do a third coat with a little of that aniline dye I sent you. Don't stain the wood, stain the finish. You can test it ot the top or bottom edge of the door. I had to use the dye on my burn mark to break up the edge and give the impression of grain in the wood.

erilyn said...

Are you planning to shellac the doors again? Could you give the lighter door an extra coat of shellac? I just thought shellac is somehwat reversible, didn't sound as scary as staining...

Neil said...

How wide are these doors in relation to the gap they are spanning? It may be possible to sand an area that will not be seen (still inside the wall when the doors are closed) and see what happens.

Annie Mouse said...

Hi Gary,
I'm a long time lurker and big fan. You've inspired me to make my own kitchen cabinets in my 1920 folk victorian. Anyway, this entry over at 1919 four square might be helpful - they refinished their floors and did some creative matching with different shellac colors.
Thanks for the ongoing inspiration