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  1. #1
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    Default French Oak gargoyle table c1880

    Finally got around to cleaning the top of the dining table. Been distracted from everything else, by painting the interior for the last few months, and just finished (stage 1) Saturday, so got to start on the table top.

    The legs are carved, and had already done them with 5 reps of Beeswax (Gilboy's Rose Gold). But the top had not been given any love for decades it seemed. The top had the inevitable stains - oil and food, plus the usual few watermarks, and tannin accumulation over the years.

    table_uncleaed.jpg


    The intent was not to sand at all, wanting to keep whatever patina was there intact. But some of the segments had quite raised grain along minor surface splits, I could live with that. But there were some discolourations here and there that the oxalic didn't shift. And potential blotchy was definately out, and I didn't want to seal them in, to find they were even more obvious after oiling. They looked like they would stand out more being irregularly shaped, against the linearity of the grain of the segments.

    So I resorted to gently scraping here and there with a Bahco carbide scraper ( fantastically useful tool), and then a bit of a sand to blend...

    Scrubbed the top with oxalic acid using nylon scourer, and repeated a couple of times with fresh oxalic solution over the course of 1-2 hours. The grey grunge kept coming off for the first two rounds. Rinsed repeatedly with water, and initially with a bicarb solution to neutralise the oxalic (probably superfluous) then let dry overnight till the next afternoon; 38degC phase currently so one day seemed enough

    There were only two linear indentations, and these came out with brown paper and a hot iron.
    I hand sanded each inlay segment along its grain with 120/150/240/320 Mirka, one sixth square at a time, followed by a wipe with Meths.
    Then gave it a wipe of BLO 65/35 in natural gum turpentine.

    The still oxalic un-sanded 1/3 is obvious

    table_halfway - 1.jpg


    Finally sanded and all oiled. I'll give it another wipe of neat BLO tomorrow, and let it dry a couple of days, before beeswaxing it with Gilboy's Pure Gold (by far the best wax I have used).

    table_top - 1.jpg

    table_top - 2.jpg

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  3. #2
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    East Warburton, Vic
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    Wow, that has come up a pearler
    Cheers

    DJ

  4. #3
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    Feb 2015
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    Hi Node105,

    The result of your cleaning is terrific. Could you kindly clarify what you mean by "1/6 square Mirka"? Did you simply cut an Abranet hook n' loop pad into smaller parts?

    The washing with oxalic acid must have worked a treat. Did you prepare a brew of specific strength? (I have watched the antique furniture restorer Thomas Johnson on YT use oxalic. He doesn't seem too fussed about concentration and just mixes a few spoonful of the stuff in warm H2O!).

    Thanks for the tip about washing the piece with a bicarb solution to neutralise the acid. I hadn't heard of this step before!

    Cheers Yvan

  5. #4
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    Nov 2011
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    Adelaide
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    Quote Originally Posted by yvan View Post
    Hi Node105,

    The result of your cleaning is terrific. Could you kindly clarify what you mean by "1/6 square Mirka"? Did you simply cut an Abranet hook n' loop pad into smaller parts?

    The washing with oxalic acid must have worked a treat. Did you prepare a brew of specific strength? (I have watched the antique furniture restorer Thomas Johnson on YT use oxalic. He doesn't seem too fussed about concentration and just mixes a few spoonful of the stuff in warm H2O!).

    Thanks for the tip about washing the piece with a bicarb solution to neutralise the acid. I hadn't heard of this step before!

    Cheers Yvan

    Hi Yvan,

    "with 120/150/240/320 Mirka, one sixth square at a time" Noting the comma ) The table inlay is blocked out in 6 large square groups each with a cross corner to corner of the square. I just worked through the 15 internal and 4 pieces framing the squares, once piece at a time, one grit at a time.

    So roughly, 19 x 6 = 114 inlay pieces x 4 sanding grits per piece = 456 sanding 'operations'

    parquet_block.jpg



    I started by sanding 4 grits per segment/piece, a segment at a time. Wanting to see how much effort and and what result could be achieved. Because of the edge abutments, sanding along the grain on a piece, would inevitably overlap onto the abutted piece and be cutting that ACROSS its grain. So I was conscious of minimising overlap, and establishing that the grit gradient was going to remove the cross hatch when I moved to sanding the adjacent segment. Just being cautious.

    grain_conflict.jpg

    I had bought some cheap ($4 ea) blocks from fleabay - a bit small in the hand but ok, the Mirka 150mm blocks are better size ( eg the 120 labeled one on the left) but $28.50 each (Mallee Agencies in Perth). I hate constantly changing sheets.

    sanding_blocks.jpg


    So lots of picking up sanding blocks. Eventually, once I was comfortable that the process was not going to take me a week, and more importantly that there wasn't going to be artifactual cross sanding marks evident, I started working through all the 19 pieces in a square,
    one grit at a time. This also helped in a rough consistency of applied sanding to all segments at a given grit.

    I was trying to remove minimal material.



    The instruction on the Oxalic Acid (Diggers) was 100g/L cold water, so I made up 50g per 500ml. This worked fine. But as there were some marks/blotches that did not seem to be coming out, I tried doubling and tripling the concentration. This worked too, but made no difference to the problem blotches. Eventually once dried, I resorted to a light scraping on these to achieve a blend. After sanding and oiling these had disappeared completely.

    Having upped the concentration, was as much as anything, why I also neutralised with bicarb.

    I really like Thomas Johnson too. A really experienced, highly talented, no nonsense restorer.


    One other point on waxing, don't use steel wool on oak. The iron residues will aggravate the tannin. At least that is the perspective I have seen here and there. Hence nylon scourer use.


  6. #5
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    The 'gargoyle' base. Strictly speaking, a gargoyle has functional water spout. So more correctly it is a Grotesque - but no one ever sold an 'antique French Grotesque table' . "Chimera' is more appropriate. But then again, Its a piece of furniture, not architecture, so the nomenclature if flexible.


    It has had 6 treatments with Gilboy's Rose Gold beeswax polish, but still a bit 'green oak' tinged for my taste. More apparent in the lighted camera view I admit. I wanted to bring up a bit of reddish-yellow to warm it up tone wise. Might have to think about a light 'wax-off..." with turps and try some BLO to see if that helps.


    I paraphrase this from somewhere:

    In architecture, a gargoyle is a carved stone grotesque with a spout designed to convey water from a roof and away from the side of a building
    A grotesque figure is a sculpture that does not work as a waterspout and serves only an ornamental or artistic function. These are also usually called gargoyles in layman's terminology, although the field of architecture usually preserves the distinction between gargoyles (functional waterspouts) and non-waterspout grotesques.
    The term originates from the French gargouille, originally "throat" or "gullet"; cf. Latin gurgulio, gula, gargula ("gullet" or "throat") and similar words derived from the root gar, "to swallow", which represented the gurgling sound of water (e.g., Spanish garganta, "throat"; Spanish grgola, "gargoyle"). It is also connected to the French verb gargariser, which means "to gargle." The Italian word for gargoyle is doccione o gronda sporgente, an architecturally precise phrase which means "protruding gutter." The German word for gargoyle is Wasserspeier, which means "water spewer." The Dutch word for gargoyle is waterspuwer, which means "water spitter" or "water vomiter." A building that has gargoyles on it is "gargoyled."
    Grotesques are often confused with gargoyles, but the distinction is that gargoyles are figures that contain a water spout through the mouth, while grotesques do not. This type of sculpture is also called a chimera. Used correctly, the term gargoyle refers to mostly eerie figures carved specifically as terminations to spouts which convey water away from the sides of buildings. In the Middle Ages, the term babewyn was used to refer to both gargoyles and grotesques. This word is derived from the Italian word babuino, which means "baboon".
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  7. #6
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    This was it when I first got it.
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  8. #7
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    Hi node105,

    You obviously had plenty of time while sanding to calculate the exact number of operations!
    I often try to listen to some music while I clean/sand/shellac but, I never seem to hear the whole CD...
    Thoughts seem to bubble up and drift through the old neurons... so much for the music!

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