Japanned longcase case restoration

Discussion in 'Clock Case Restoration and Repair' started by DeanT, Aug 14, 2017.

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  1. DeanT

    DeanT Registered User

    Mar 22, 2009
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    Hi Case Experts,

    I've recently acquired a longcase clock circa 1700. It has been overpainted in a black paint. Unfortunately, the surface looks wrong as it is glossy and smooth but still shows the rough damaged surface underneath. I'm thinking about stripping the case and then refinishing the surface and wanted some advice about what to use as the Japan coating and also the gesso undercoat. Is there a book or article about this type of finishing?

    I'd be interested in people's thoughts of what to do with it. The movement is superb and apart from a light clean is ready to go. The case is smallish and really nice proportions.

    Thanks in advance,
    Dean



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  2. Time After Time

    Time After Time Registered User
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    I went rummaging around in the archives and found this thread: https://mb.nawcc.org/archive/index.php/t-50736.html
    No doubt there are many more but this one seems to address one of your questions anyway.
    Nice looking clock. Good luck and have fun restoring it.
     
  3. novicetimekeeper

    novicetimekeeper Registered User
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    That gets a bit muddled in places that thread, I don't think there are any problems in translation, shellac was used in electrical applications, was widely used in the manufacture of transformers motors and generators.
     
  4. Time After Time

    Time After Time Registered User
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    Yes, it did kind of go sideways a little but I think the discussion on Black Shellac/French Polishing Techniques was interesting. I suppose one could use shellac or lacquer. Generally speaking I'm not too crazy about using Polyurethane on antique clocks but that's more from the aspect of placing clear finish coats over stained/dyed wood. I've never Jappaned, or restored a Japanned finish before. Dean, if you get an opportunity to share some "in process" or "after" photos that would be great. In any case, good luck with your project.
     
  5. DeanT

    DeanT Registered User

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    Thanks for the response. I think the article gets a little mixed in the difference between ebonizing and japanning.

    I've ebonized a case before which is done with vinegar, rust and tannic acid with a French polish on the surface. This is normal done directly on to the fruitwood veneer bracket clocks. This produces a super finish with the grain of the wood still visible. It simulate ebony hence the name.

    I assume this case is oak and that it is coated in a white gesso surface which is sanded flat. A few chips have revealed a white layer under the painted surface. This is then painted in the japan finish and will not have any visible grain and should be completely flat. I am interested that it is suggested to then French polish the surface. Again I wonder if the author was getting ebonizing and japanning confused?

    How would you recommend stripping the case. It looks a lot like an enamel or acrylic modern paint.

    Cheers
    Dean
     
  6. DeanT

    DeanT Registered User

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  7. DeanT

    DeanT Registered User

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    Here's the original recipe from 1688 from a treatise on japanning and varnishing. Its lamp black mixed with shellac coated with plain shellac. There is also a recipe for lamp black.

    Page 35 also has what to do with ordinary woods such as oak where they are coated with a white thickener first.

    https://archive.org/stream/treatisejapanin00Stal#page/n29/mode/2up
     
  8. DeanT

    DeanT Registered User

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    So the only question that remains is what is the best way to remove the existing coating which seems to be a modern black paint?

    Cheers
    Dean
     
  9. novicetimekeeper

    novicetimekeeper Registered User
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    If you are going to refinish it in black then how about a heat gun? That way you won't interfere with the wood, if it is gesso underneath that will stay, just be careful you don't soften the hide glue but that will be on the inside.
     
  10. BLKBEARD

    BLKBEARD Registered User
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    I'd opt for chemical stripping. the heat gun might pop the glue joints which are deteriorated to begin with.
    Gesso is easier to replace than re-aligning & re-gluing the case.

    Of course you could try the heat gun, and if you see problems arise, switch to another method.
     
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