Refinish wood

Joined
Feb 21, 2005
Messages
2,662
Greetings all.

A few months back I bought a 1948 Westinghouse AM/FM radio with a project in mind.

One of my hobbies away from knives, is old time radio. So I bought this radio to rip out the original electronics and replace them with a modern amplifier so I can run my ipod through it and listen to old radio shows.

Well... the time has come to refinish it. I started with this:

IMG_0144.jpg


And tonight, I have this:

IMG_0372.jpg


I've never refinished wood before. How rough should the surface be? I stripped it the 80 grit sandpaper and it doesn't have any rough spots, but it's not exactly smooth.

Would I be ok to go ahead and put the finish on, or should it be smoother or rougher?

Just as an aside: I was able to salvage the original gold fabric, and the dial glass is perfect intact, and the original speaker works. This should be a fun project and it should sound pretty good when I'm finished.

Thanks for any help.
 
Joined
Jan 8, 2006
Messages
345
Very nice project! First, what finishing materials are you going to use? Are you going to stain or go natural? If you are going to stain I would sand to at least 180 grit and probably more like 220. Otherwise your color will be uneven. You could use a "all in one" finish that is basically a finish with the stain already in it. These are more forgiving of uneven sanding because they do not penetrate the wood like stain. They are more of a colored top coat. Whatever you decide be sure to post some pics of the finished project.
 
Joined
Feb 21, 2005
Messages
2,662
A little part of me would like to leave it as a natural finish, but that would clash with the gold fabric. I am going to stain it. I found a pretty nice finish that has just a little bit of red in it.

I'll take your advice and sand it with some 220 tomorrow afternoon and then blow all the dust off and give it a shot. I've got a satin clear coat for the end because I don't want it overly shiny.

And I'll certainly post pictures of the finish product. This thing has been sitting around my house for a few months and I figured I'd be more motivated to finally put some electronics in it if I had it stripped and finished. So hopefully I'll have it working soon.
 
Joined
Jan 15, 2005
Messages
1,800
Cool project.

A suggestion... grab a tack cloth, about .99 at HD or Lowes. Will do a better job than air on picking up saw dust.
 

dannyp

Gold Member
Joined
Nov 25, 2007
Messages
1,986
Wood finishing is really an art form all it's own and there are so many different ways to accomplish drastically different results. If you had built it from scratch I would recommend doing samples on some scrap. Since that's not possible you may want to try it first on part of the inside that won't be seen. If the sample area comes out blotchy they sell a wood conditioner that you apply first to help even out the color. Definitely sand more, it's just like painting. Every little imperfection will be magnified once the finish is applied. You can mix colors to achieve the desired results as well as long as they have the same base. I prefer wipe-on polyurethane since it is easier to apply and dries faster. The downside is that it requires more coats to get the same build of finish. The biggest thing with finishing is having patience. Make sure you have everything you need handy before you start. You don't want to stop in the middle to look for something you forgot.

Most importantly don't throw used rags in a pile or in the trash until they are dry. The buildup of heat as it cures can start a fire when placed next to combustible materials.

Good luck, I'm looking forward to seeing how it turns out. It's a cool project and always nice to see something old turned into a useful object again.
 

dannyp

Gold Member
Joined
Nov 25, 2007
Messages
1,986
Another thing I forgot before is that when hand sanding you should go in the direction of the grain. This will minimize the visibility of the sanding scratches.
 
Joined
Feb 21, 2005
Messages
2,662
I'd go for a finish that was used originally. That would most likely be a lacquer finish. Sand it, wipe with a tack cloth and seal it. Some brown toner and a couple of clear coats. Maybe even try to get it working? Here's some good sites.

http://www.antiqueradio.org/welcome.htm


http://www.antiqueradio.org/parts.htm

I'm pretty sure this radio was in working condition when I got it. But I bought it with the idea in mind to put modern electronics inside it, so I never plugged it in. I was worried that if I plugged it in and it worked, I wouldn't want to take it apart.

After this one is finished, I do plan to find another old radio and restore to period working condition.

My goal when I finish is to simulate as much of a single day's programming as I can find.
 
Joined
Nov 6, 2008
Messages
712
I would be taking it down to more like 400 or so. Definitely get tack cloth. Take your time and follow the instructions of the finish you are using. For something like this, I would be tempted to stain and then finish with tung or boiled linseed oil.

I agree the original would have been a shiny laquer finish.
 
Joined
Feb 21, 2005
Messages
2,662
I agree the original would have been a shiny laquer finish.

It probably was, and it was probably a beautiful piece when it was new. But after I got 60 years of dust and crap off the surface, the wood underneath was some of the most beautiful I've ever seen, so I'm wanting to keep the finish as subdued as possible and let the grain of the wood show through.

I just finished sanding down to 320, and I'll probably finish on 400 tomorrow (my arm is about to fall off) and I picked up some tack cloth at Lowes on the way home from work this afternoon, so I'll give a good cleaning with that and hopefully get started on some color hopefully later this week... it's too cold and damp today to start.

One other question while I'm at it. You can see in the first picture that there's a gold stripe under the knobs and I'd like to recreate that. Should I tape that section off before I do any staining and then hand paint it later, or will a paint adhere to stain very well? And what about gold leaf?

Thanks for all the help.
 

dannyp

Gold Member
Joined
Nov 25, 2007
Messages
1,986
You probably don't have to bother sanding it with the 400 unless you really want to. I usually sand to 220 before staining and use 320 or 400 between finish coats. If you go too high before staining it won't absorb it as well. I wouldn't be worried about the paint adhering to the stained wood, but it may be harder to cover the darker color. I don't think it would stick to the clear coat well though, so you might as well just tape it off to play it on the safe side.

As far as keeping the finish the same as the original was, I wouldn't worry about it either. It's not like you're doing a restoration, it will be something unique and I think the satin finish will look good on it.
 
Joined
Jan 3, 2011
Messages
168
One of my hobbies away from knives, is old time radio.

Do you just like the radios, radio shows, or both? I'm a fan of radio shows and I have over 100 cassettes that I've collected since the 90's. I've had a few older radios but none of them worked and I could never find parts... Right now I have a Tangent Cinque for listening to Coast to Coast.

cinque-dab-black_xl_size_10.jpg
 
Joined
Feb 21, 2005
Messages
2,662
Do you just like the radios, radio shows, or both? I'm a fan of radio shows and I have over 100 cassettes that I've collected since the 90's. I've had a few older radios but none of them worked and I could never find parts... Right now I have a Tangent Cinque for listening to Coast to Coast.

Both.

It started back in the late 80s when Nick at Nite showed re-runs of the 1967 color version of Dragnet. Even at 7 or 8 years old I loved it. Then a few years back, I bought the first season on DVD and it came with a bonus disc containing an early radio episode and I was hooked.

I'm just starting to scratch the surface of what all was out there, but I've got several gigabytes of old radio show mp3s. I honestly don't watch a lot of TV anymore. I've plugged my ipod into my stereo and sit back and listen to old radio.

As to the radios, I've always been kinda intrigued by old electronics (I've got a box of 486 processors lying around somewhere), so I guess this was the next logical progression in my hobby. I have a very nice stereo system in my living room, but it's almost too nice to listen to these old shows on... they lose something coming out of $1000 speakers, so I wanted to go back in time. I'll be using the original speaker and a simple mono amp to drive it. Then plug the ipod in and away I go.

The only problem is I don't know what my cat is going to do when I'm finished. She's been sleeping inside it since I took the original electronics out.

Thanks for all the help and I'm sure a few more questions will pop up before all is said and done.
 
Joined
Jun 7, 2007
Messages
2,178
If you look on antique radio forums there are guys building am transmitters that you can hook up to another radio or a jack on your computer and transmit an am signal that the old radios will pick up.I have one of the kits to build one but I need someone that is a little more versed than I am at reading the schematic.:D
 
Top