Seth Thomas case: How to preserve or should I refinish it?

lmester

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I have a Seth Thomas Medbury. The finish is faded and has some cracking. I think the clock was made in 1960. Would it have a lacquer or shellac finish? Any ideas on how to preserve it? Should it be refinished? So far all I've done is wipe the dust off. I have no experience with case restoration. I'd welcome any suggestions.
 

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Thyme

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It's a veneered case and since it's from 1960 it would be lacquer. Since the cracking is throughout and the finish is original and looks good, I wouldn't refinish it. Products like tung oil, which is essentially a wiping varnish, would be beneficial as it would help fill in the cracking and renew the shine. It's easy to apply with a clean cloth. Just make sure the case is totally clean before applying it.
 

Scottie-TX

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I concur with thyme. I'd give it an aggressive rubdown with Skotch or 3M finishing pads to reduce the raised finish. Since it probably is lacquer you need not be concerned with the use of most refinishing products as it won't break down or slurry with applications. Again like thyme, a rubdown with finishing oil - not polishing oils - or perhaps even using a 4:1 cut of common varnish/oil would fill and minimize the evidence of cracking. I'd also consider the same type application of thinned shellac applied with a cloth swatch. I would not strip it.
 

Thyme

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I concur with thyme. I'd give it an aggressive rubdown with Skotch or 3M finishing pads to reduce the raised finish. Since it probably is lacquer you need not be concerned with the use of most refinishing products as it won't break down or slurry with applications. Again like thyme, a rubdown with finishing oil - not polishing oils - or perhaps even using a 4:1 cut of common varnish/oil would fill and minimize the evidence of cracking. I'd also consider the same type application of thinned shellac applied with a cloth swatch. I would not strip it.
Agreed, but it's not entirely certain from the photos whether the finish is actually raised. Rubbing it down as suggested will remove any remaining gloss if done aggressively. Of course reapplying lacquer is always another option. If the OP is inexperienced with application of lacquer, the wipe-on method would be easier to do.

Also, the oil treatment you mention is a good idea. Some might recommend things like citrus oil or even a linseed oil application - which would be beneficial if the veneer is as dry as I suspect it might be. ;)
 

lmester

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I have the case done. Using the finishing pads worked good. Since I had lacquer I decided to try that. I've only done brass before. It's actually a little more forgiving than working with brass. With brass if I have a problem the only solution is to strip it and start over. I put on several coats of lacquer and sanded all but the last coat. It hid most of the cracking. In a few spots the crack was down into the wood. These are still faintly visible.

Also, If anyone is interested I found a lot of how-to's for lacquering wood. Do a Google search for "refinishing guitar lacquer".

The first picture is a close up of it's condition before refinishing. Next is after refinishing.

SethThomasWestm 022.jpg CaseRefinish 006.jpg CaseRefinish 012.jpg CaseRefinish 014.jpg CaseRefinish 015.jpg CaseRefinish 018.jpg
 
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harold bain

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Well done, Luke. It looks great.:thumb:
 

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