Joel Warren method question

timothy.doran

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Jan 10, 2021
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Hi from Bath England. I have a couple of questions about the Joel Warren cleaning mixture that I hope you can help me with. I have a mantle clock that needs a bit of clean up. The finish is a bit crazed but the veneer is all firmly attached. I'm assuming that it's most likely shellac finish.

Here is the recipe from another thread by fbicknel

I have dealt with this many times. I use a formula that feeds the finish, fills the "gullies" and cleans out the grime. It is applied with 0000 steel wool and wiped clean with a soft cotton cloth. The recipe is: 1 c boiled linseed oil 1 c turpentine 1 c vinegar ( either type ) and 1 tbs alcohol. Over the years I've beefed up the alcohol a little, and added a little lacquer thinner to gently soften the varnish. Applying it with the steel wool gets to the grime and rounds off the edges of the dry finish. You can use a paper towel to wipe away the initial grime though I prefer an old cotton tee shirt or something of that nature. As you wipe away the residue you will begin to see the incredible amount of dirt, and with a little elbow grease how quickly and effectively the finish and color start to come back. You will begin to see that wonderful color start to appear. Using successive applications will really bring out the patina. As you advance through the process you can dispense with the steel wool and use a soft cotton cloth. You'll be filling the "channels' with linseed oil which is one of the fundamental solid elements in the old varnish. CAUTION you must hang the paper towels or soft cloth out to dry over night before throwing away. This stuff is highly combustible and WILL spontaneously do so.
Joel Warren
1. I looked but could not find a sticky or definitive tread for warrens recipe. Is that correct?
2. In England sourcing turps is tricky. Would white spirit do the same thing?
3. Is lacquer really needed?
4. I have access to meths/metholated spirits, is this the stuff to use?

Thanks for your time and help.

Here is a picture of my clock. Ignore the hammerite silver paint, it's part of the charm and on my list of things to do one day. IMG_20201228_134123519_HDR.jpg
 

fbicknel

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Looking forward to seeing how this turns out, Tim.
 

timothy.doran

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Thanks for the replies. I will update with some progress pictures.
I have checked out prices and the recipe is going to be quite expensive. Turps is £8, boiled linseed £9, meths £2.50, lacquer thinners £7. That's quite am outlay and I'm feeling slightly put off. I am tempted to try Howards restore a finish. Does anyone have experience with that?
 

JTD

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I am tempted to try Howards restore a finish. Does anyone have experience with that?
No. I have not tried that. But I have had good results with 'Curator' clock case restorer, which is available on Ebay and elsewhere for about £8.

JTD
 

bikerclockguy

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If the finish is original, it is toner lacquer. Use of anything other than lacquer thinner to repair and or strip lacquer will leave you with a gooey mess that will take a lot of sandpaper and elbow grease to remove. I would test on a small area by dabbing a small artist’s paint brush in lacquer thinner and giving it a few strokes in an inconspicuous area. Use the pure lacquer thinner from a hardware store; not the cheap “cleanup thinner”. Good luck with your project!
 

JTD

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If the finish is original, it is toner lacquer. Use of anything other than lacquer thinner to repair and or strip lacquer will leave you with a gooey mess that will take a lot of sandpaper and elbow grease to remove. I would test on a small area by dabbing a small artist’s paint brush in lacquer thinner and giving it a few strokes in an inconspicuous area. Use the pure lacquer thinner from a hardware store; not the cheap “cleanup thinner”. Good luck with your project!
Curator case restorer is perfectly safe for use on lacquer. It does not harm it.

JTD
 

bikerclockguy

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Curator case restorer is perfectly safe for use on lacquer. It does not harm it.

JTD
Nor will Johnson’s Paste Wax. Both products will make old, dull lacquer shine like a dime in a goat’s butt. Neither product will repair cracks/crazing/alligatoring in lacquer, though, and neither will any of the solvents/concoctions mentioned above. For just buffing out to see what you have, Curator or Johnson’s is great. For going deeper to strip or repair cracks in a lacquer finish, though, use of anything except lacquer thinner will have disastrous consequences.
 

Oldbo

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You could try Curator case restorer or Priory polishes case restorer or Mylands furniture cleaner and reviver.
These all clean - but not too aggressively. Not sure if they will make your clock shine like a dime in a goat's butt though!
 
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Bruce Alexander

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Hello Timothy and welcome to the NAWCC's online Forums.

I don't see a lot of crazing/alligatoring of the finish in the one photo of the clock that you've posted.
This Thread demonstrates the kind of results that I've achieved with the Warren Formula/Method:


The Warren formula, as I understand it, is a multipurpose cleaner "rejuvenator" which is suitable for a variety of varnishes and shellac.
You'll want to determine what the protective finish on your clock case is before proceeding. Test on an inconspicuous spot with a cotton tipped applicator. I'll start with denatured alcohol to test for shellac. If alcohol doesn't soften the finish, I'll try lacquer thinner, and if that has no affect I assume that I'm looking at some type of varnish or perhaps plastic (polyurethane).

It's really the 4-0 steel wool that gives it enough "bite" to smooth down finish imperfections. Once you've cleaned the surface with any good finished wood cleaning product, you might consider applying a good paste wax with some 4-0 steel wool allowing it to harden before buffing it off.

If you don't wish to apply something as aggressive as 4-0 Steel Wool, you might try hand rubbing the finish with Flour of Pumice followed by Rottenstone. As you can imagine, there are multiple methods to apply these products to your finish from soft rags to steel wool. Correct use of rottenstone or pumice - FineWoodworking

Good luck with your project.

Bruce
 
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