I bought an antique headboard that had obviously not been used for a long time as it was very dirty. I planned to clean it up and refinish it. I’d never done this before, but did my research and figured it couldn’t be that hard to refinish a flat piece of wood. After throwing out several buckets of black water, I stripped it, and noticed lots of swirls in the wood. I thought it had been left out in the rain or something until I did some more research and discovered it has a layer of veneer burled wood. My question is what do I do now? Put a clear coat of something on it? Something else? Any advice would be appreciated.
Burled Wood Advice
I reclaim and refinish old pieces using Old World techniques dating back centuries.
If it is a veneer (as burled wood is likely to be), DO NOT SAND IT! You will sand right through the quality veneer and destroy the piece. From the look of it, I would not strip any more as the color is fairly even.
My recommendation is that you seal and harden the finish with alternating coats of boiled linseed oil and spar varnish, each diluted to 1/3 with mineral spirits. That is, 2 parts mineral spirits and 1 part BLO/spar varnish. Apply that every day for about a week until it starts to build up visibly on the surface. Then give it a light rub with 0000 or 00000 steel wool between EACH COAT of the same alternating diluted BLO/spar varnish for about a week until the surface is uniformly coated.
This process brings out as much luster as the wood can give.
Next, get a high quality brush and apply two to four coats of undiluted spar varnish allowing it to dry for at least three days between coats, using steel wool between each coat. This is protection and will give you a glassy finish.
After the final coat of undiluted spar varnish has dried and been steel wooled, apply final finishes with very dilute spar varnish -- one part spar varnish with three to four parts mineral spirits. Lightly rub with 00000 steel wool between each coat.
Then let it cure for about a year and buff it with auto polish.
Yeah, that's a lot of work. But it will look great for hundreds of years. Burled wood deserves it.
Really? Let it cure for a YEAR? Oh my.... way beyond my patience limit!