Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Art Deco Hutch - Part 1

We found a hutch at our favorite second-hand furniture store.

It is a waterfall front Art Deco piece that just needs a little bit of love.

The biggest issue with the hutch, is the hazing on the top. The hazing can likely be buffed out using super fine steel wool. That is really dependent on how deep the haze goes, though. Hazing is usually caused by moisture or heat.

A close up of the current finish. There is a bit of crazing and cracking. Both problems can hopefully be resolved with a process called re-amalgamation.  

Some hutch details: The hutch still has the original slider drawer with blue felt, likely for cutlery.

The inside of the hutch needs a good cleaning, but is otherwise in okay condition.

Getting back to restoring this piece...
Starting with the steel wool, I began to buff out the white haze. I was dubious as to whether it would work or not.

Much to my surprise, this is how it turned out with minimal effort.

The next thing done, is to remove any wax or dirt built up over the years using mineral spirits. 

With the piece clean, we then need to determine what kind of finish we have on our hands. If it is shellac or lacquer, we can re-amalgamate the finish. If it is varnish, we are screwed and will have to actually strip, sand, and re-stain the whole hutch.

According to TLC, in order to figure out which finish we have, has to be done by testing the hutch:
1. First, test the finish with denatured alcohol (aka. Methyl Hydrate); rub a little alcohol onto an inconspicuous finished area. If the finish dissolves, it's shellac.
2. If it partially dissolves, it's probably a combination of shellac and lacquer. Test it again with a mixture of denatured alcohol and lacquer thinner; this should completely dissolve the finish.
3. If alcohol doesn't affect the finish, rub a little lacquer thinner on an inconspicuous finished spot.
4. If the area turns rough and then smooth again, the finish is lacquer; if the finish crinkles and doesn't get smooth again, it's a type of varnish.
5. If neither alcohol nor lacquer thinner affects it, the finish is varnish.

This is my test. The cloudy circle on the right is the lacquer thinner. The circle on the left is the denatured alcohol. Clearly, the denatured alcohol looks like it has begun to melt (and slightly lighten) the finish, so this must be a shellac finish.
So, I brush on denatured alcohol over the entire hutch top.

Well, it turns out that this is neither shellac nor lacquer.... Nor a mixture of the two.

Sorry to leave you with a cliff-hanger... (or am I?)
Stay tuned to the next post!
You can find PART 2 here.


  1. I promise I won't make you wait too long for Part 2 of this post, maximum, a week.

  2. Sanding might be your best option.

    1. Oh, I cannot wait until you see what I ended up doing. Craziness.

  3. Ok That's not me the wood!!!

    1. I might remind you that this is a family blog... lol

    2. El C&%#^o Grande3 October 2012 at 08:24


    3. Generic non-innuendo post...

  4. I hope that things go well..this looks like an incredible find for you. Can't wait to see the end result. bw

  5. this is ridiculous--I get up everymorning and go right on the computer to see if there is anything new!!-You are a wicked child....:)kk

    1. LOL, I am not trying to torture anyone... Basically, trying not to blow my proverbial 'wad' all in one day.


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