Anyone an Antique Expert?
We have an old grain scale, like this one http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-QAN45uRP96...0/100_2251.jpg
but it's not in such good shape - the metal parts are rusty and one of the handle ends is broken off. We would like to fix it up and use it as a coffee table. I'm just curious if refinishing the top (sanding and varnish) and the metal parts (painting?) and possibly trying to replace the handle, would completely ruin it. If not, what is the best way to go about doing this? As in, what's the best way to deal with the rust, and to fix the handle?
It's such a neat thing, I would hate to completely ruin it, but I also hate that it's sitting in storage with no one appreciating it.
It actually still works (give or take 15 pounds, but we were also playing with it on a very uneven surface, so that might make a difference).
Ahh, want all my trade secrets, eh?
OK, well I AM an antique expert, I'm a museum qualified antique & art restorationist: http://home.earthlink.net/~streamliner/
It's a beautiful piece, I don't see many of these, so yes, it must be treated with respect. But since you'd like to use it,(rightly so) you're going to have to alter it's condition. It's not the Mona Lisa, so really, how concerned are you if your work devalues the piece?
A one-to-one turpentine/linseed oil mixture is a fantastic cleaner for both wood & metal, I'd start there. (believe me, you'll use it again elsewhere) Use disposable hog hair chip brushes & old toothbrushes for the cracks.
First of all, you don't have to completely refinish the wood. If it's painted, why not just accept the paint and CLEAN it?
If you want to remove the paint, just scrape using a commercial stripper. Leave traces of paint in the cracks-it gives interest.
If the varnish is worn you can simply clean & refresh the varnish with a new coat. I often use Formby's Refinisher to revitalize badly worn surfaces. (wear a respirator with new cartridges!)
I like Minwax's Marine Spar Varnish as a topcoat, but you can use anything that's reversible, NOT anything like basketball court polyeurethane. Varnish & shellac both mellow with age and will protect the surface. As the surface wears, you just add a new coat!
You can wire brush the metal and oil it if it's just surface rust or Navel Jelly it if it's deeply pitted. It can then be periodically oiled to keep it moisturized.
If you want to seal the surface, Rustoleum makes a great product, "Rust Reformer" that coats the rust & turns black. It's a liquid in a squeezy bottle. I use it as a primer on everything from metal porch furniture to my car's emerging rust spots. But it will seal the moving parts & is irreversible, so that's your call.
If you want to rebuild the broken handle, make sure you dowel & CLAMP the new piece on. Use regular yellow wood glue like Elmers. Carve the new piece to match after 24 hour curing, then match the finish.
It's a big process that requires proper tools & materials and a few days work, so you can see why a restorer charges as they do. But I will tell you sanding is for CHUMPS, I certainly don't do it more than lightly, it's NOT the way to go.