Tips to restore sun damaged toolbox?
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  1. #1
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    Default Tips to restore sun damaged toolbox?

    I received this toolbox from my neighbor. It sat in his garage window for years, and the veneer has come off the back and top. I want to restore the box, the veneer part is easy. It's the sun damaged oak on the upper portion of the back and on the lid Id like some advice on.

    A little sanding with some 240 grit didn't make much of an improvement. I was thinking since I'm going to be re- veneering maybe just mill down the sun damaged part to match the lower section and veneer the whole back, and do the same to the lid. I also thought about just replacing both pieces entirely. It seems like that may just be the easiest route.

    Is there anything else I can do to it to maybe keep the original wood?

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    Blo-turp, ie boiled linseed oil and turpentine, wipe on thick first few times, wait a week or two and apply again, repeat until it quits soaking it up.

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    If you want to lighten up the "dirty pores" color, you might try oxalic acid (preferred to household chlorine bleach) to bleach it out. Barkeeper's Friend has a lot of oxalic acid in the powder. I'd try wet-sanding with a paste/slurry of BF several times. This will hopefully bring down the raised grain as well as lighten the pores. After the last time, thoroughly scrub and flush the surface with clean water to remove all the BF abrasive particles, then let it dry out completely, before using the BLO-turp treatment (or similar).

    If you don't want to remove the metal hardware, the oxalic acid will probably remove some of the rust, too, without being really nasty to the shine.

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    The equation from experience:

    More sanding = more regrets

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    Unless you're one of those "conservator wizards" I can't imagine you'll ever get it to look right, and even then different areas will age & oxidize differently.

    That ain't just "surface rust", I'd definitely re-veneer it if you want to do it right. What kind of adhesive are you thinking to use for the veneer work?

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    Quote Originally Posted by richard newman View Post
    Unless you're one of those "conservator wizards" I can't imagine you'll ever get it to look right, and even then different areas will age & oxidize differently.

    That ain't just "surface rust", I'd definitely re-veneer it if you want to do it right. What kind of adhesive are you thinking to use for the veneer work?
    That's kind of the direction I was leaning towards. I've done a little research, but I've never done veneer before. Any recommendations for adhesive?

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    Chances are that the leather handle has gone as dry as blotting paper and will start to crumble as soon as you use it. That can be improved (but not cured) by giving it some sort of hide feed. I use neatsfoot oil on leather boots, but there may better alternatives for this application - ideas, anyone?

    George

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    Quote Originally Posted by ecosta View Post
    Any recommendations for adhesive?
    Lot's of possibilities, but for sure not contact cement. Any water based glue is going to introduce some unbalanced stress in the panels, as you're only gluing one side. Hard to say if that will be a problem without having the work in hand.

    Which leads us to epoxy, which solves that problem. I use West System, but there are lots of good ones out there. But if you use epoxy, you will likely have a lot of bleed thru, which can cause uneven color after finishing. You can avoid that by using a wash coat of epoxy over the whole box. Many guitar makers use epoxy to fill pores, it sands easily and doesn't shrink back.

    What ever you choose, do a lot of practicing before the real thing. Experiment with glue spreads, methods of applying pressure, etc. You may find that you need a lot less glue than you expect.

    Where in MA are you? Might know someone in your vicinity who could help.

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    Think of it as patina, earned during a lifetime of hard work and oil it before using any other finish.

    Best solution might be to stain the whole box a bit darker, with careful blending of the new pieces to match.

    I've worked on a lot of sun damaged stuff and for cabinets if I don't want to completely refinish I soak tung oil into the bare spots and then come back a week or so later with a film finish. Often I use shellac to even out spots first.

    The only real cure for old weathered wood is planing or heavy sanding and in this case neither is suited, so do your best and accept that the piece has "character".

    For the new veneer I'd use Titebond liquid hide glue. This will keep things repairable in future.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Georgineer View Post
    Chances are that the leather handle has gone as dry as blotting paper and will start to crumble as soon as you use it. That can be improved (but not cured) by giving it some sort of hide feed. I use neatsfoot oil on leather boots, but there may better alternatives for this application - ideas, anyone?

    George
    New leather. Wouldn't ever trust an old cracked handle but if the OP wants to try, the best product out there is Leather Therapy. I've used it on old WWII leather and it turned out well and their cleaner plus treatment saved an expensive set of leather motorcycle saddlebags that got covered in mold when a tree breached the roof of my winter storage building.

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    I’ll second West System epoxy for the veneering. Done for good.

    I think the black is old dead finish. It might improve with the oxalic acid treatment, might improve with stripper - not much to lose by trying it on a spot.

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    Thanks guys, I'll check out west system.

    I do plan on replacing the handle on the top.

    And I was thinking of stripping the old finish and restaining the whole thing instead trying to color match the new parts to the old

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    What Richard said.
    I do a fair amount of new veneer work, and use WEST for exactly the reasons he stated "no moisture introduced" to swell the sheets you are trying to lay, and in the panel itself if it is multi-ply lay-up.

    I also sometimes hammer veneer "old stuff" with hot hide glue. Not something that is easily accessible in a couple practice sessions, and i am still far from "really good" let alone expert, yet.

    As you note, there are quite a few missing wide strips of veneer, and as others have noted, the old stuff is not going to be something that can be made "bright" again, because it was so thin to start with. Because the original is so thin, other than if this were a museaum conservation job of Orville Wright's original toolbox actually used on the Kitty Hawk flight, it is not going to be practical to match new veneer to it, even accepting mis-matched color (without staining it all dark upon complettion). My approach, if i determined to actually save the box, would be to strip all the old off, and resaw new veneer to apply back on, with WEST.

    Still not an easy job, and you have to determine how you will detail the corners. It looks like the old, solid wood corners butt the old veneer?

    Your box was probably not actually "veneered" as it was built.
    It looks more likely that it was built of veneered panels (plywood or lumber core) that was treated as solid wood, with solid corners applied to joint panels at the corners, and to cover the plies. This makes re-work somewhat more tricky than typical work that was veneered as a separate operation, with clear joins where to stop and match new veneer to new veneer at corners, say & trim it after sticking. It appears your veneer will have to fit perfectly between the solid corners all around? Maybe even necessary to rout the panels, to establish clean edges? Or maybe lay on, and rout a perfling around after, and inlay a feature, that will sand flush to the corners, as well as flush to the new veneer? etc.

    good luck - it will be interesting to follow your process.

    smt

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    It is not bad looking oak- even the sun damaged part. Might be rough, so light sanding will fix that. If you really want fine furniture with oak, you need to fill the pores with a proper wood filler, then sand, repeat, until smooth. For final finish, consider Watco Danish Oil finish- very easy to apply, available in a lot of stain type colors (not this is not a heavy type stain, after initial coat, only small amount of darkening happens with each subsequent coat.

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    The matched QS pieces where the hinges are, are solid wood?
    So the new veneer will butt that.

    My experience, is don't mess with finishes and certainly not sanding, until the new pieces have been fit to the ones that can't or won't be removed.

    Then keep a mental map, so as not to sand or scrape too thin.
    Per notes by several of us, above.

    If you accept an all over silver-ish tone with gold flecks emerging, that could finish quite nicely.
    With a good job of matching and fitting the new wood.



    smt

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