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by Simon Gilboy

Over the last few months I have received many enquiries from people asking how to restore their Nathan furniture.  So, in response to this demand I have produced a step-by-step guide that aims to demonstrate how this can be done at home.

This blog will explain the process of stripping and refinishing an item of Nathan furniture.  It will also give you a list of all the items you will require in order to finish the job.  

TL;DR: Take me to the Instructional video below

For this guide I will be restoring a well-worn but much-loved set of nested teak Nathan coffee tables.

A well-worn set of teak nested tables by Nathan with ring marks, scratches and a deteriorated finish

1. STRIPPING THE EXISTING FINISH

paint stripper, coarse wire wool and protective gloves used to strip a teak Nathan table

You will need: Gloves | Protective glasses | Mask Stripper* | Brush | Coarse wire wool | Decorators tray | Paint scraper

    Once you have put on gloves, mask, protective glasses, use a brush to move a generous amount of the stripper around the surface of the furniture.  The stripper should be pushed rather than splashed over the surface and ensure you coat it thoroughly. You should see the finish begin to lift off almost immediately.

    pouring the stripper on the surface of the Nathan teak table

    The stripper does not need to be left to soak in for more than 5 minutes.  Once you have thoroughly applied it to the surface of your piece of furniture you can begin to remove the stripper.

    scraping the stripped finish from the table surface

    Using your paint scraper or cabinet scrape, work from one corner of your table top and push the scraper smoothly along the surface in one stroke. The stripper and finish will collect on top of the scraper and can be deposited into the tray.  Repeat this process in strokes across the surface of your furniture.

    I was always taught to strip a piece of furniture three times in order to ensure that you are left with a clean bare wood surface. It’s an iron clad way of ensuring all the old finish is removed.

    So I would recommend that this stripping process will need to be repeated another two times. As you will see on the video, after the second and third application of stripper I remove it with coarse wire wool. The wire wool should be scrubbed in the direction of the grain and will help to remove the smaller particles of remaining finish. In the video, the final strip shows me using the wire wool until the furniture is dry of any stripper. You should be left with a clean bare finish.

    *DO NOT ALLOW ANY STRIPPER TO COME INTO CONTACT WITH YOUR SKIN

    2. SANDING

    sanding the stripped surface of the teak table

    You will need: Gloves | Mask | Protective glasses | 120 grit sandpaper | Sanding block

    Wrap a piece of sandpaper around your sanding block and start to sand in the direction of the wood grain. This should see you using long strokes rather than circling movements.

    **If you sand across the grain you will scratch the surface.

    Be aware that when sanding large, horizontal surfaces on Nathan furniture you are probably sanding a veneer rather than solid wood. The veneer is generally only about 1 or 1.5mm thick. This is why I advise sanding by hand rather than using an orbital sander.
    sanding a Nathan teak table
    If you sand through the veneer you are likely to need the services of a professional restorer. Remove the dust from and around your furniture using a vacuum cleaner

    3. NEUTRALISING THE STRIPPER

    (you may only need to do this if advised to do so by the stripper manufacturer)
      neutralising the stripped teak with denatured alcohol or methylated spirit

      You will need: Gloves | Mask | Protective glasses | Methylated spirits (denatured alcohol) | Acetic acid (vinegar) | Small sponge | 180 grit foam-back sandpaper

      You will see in my video (below) that I use a chemical stripper to remove the finish from the Nathan coffee tables. This means that I have to neutralise these chemicals before going forward with the restoration.

      The stripper that you use at home is unlikely to have a chemical base and so please check the instructions on the stripper container to see if this part of the process is required.

      In the video (below) you will see that I add approximately 10 to 20ml of acetic acid to 200ml of methylated spirits. This mixture then needs to be sponged onto all parts of the furniture.

      applying the denatured alcohol (methylated spirit) to the teak using a sponge

      Once the methylated spirits have evaporated and the furniture is dry, use your 180 grit, foam backed sandpaper to ‘de-nib’ the surface, ensuring that you sand with the grain of the wood. Once finished, vacuum the area and furniture clean.
       

      4. SEALING WITH HARD WAX OIL

      charging the pad with hard wax oil

      You will need: Gloves | Hard wax oil | White spirit | 100% pure cotton cloth

      For a more durable, long lasting finish, apply a hard wax oil to your stripped Nathan furniture before polishing.

      ** You can use many different sealers, you don't have to use hardwax oil but I like using it because it is a natural product and it provides such a wonderful, easy to apply, quick drying, natural finish. 

      Make a palm sized pad with your cloth and dip it into the hard wax oil.  In the video you will see that I dilute the hard wax oil with about 10% white spirit or pure turpentine,  just to thin it slightly. 

      With your charged cloth, start at one end of a surface and apply the hard wax oil sparingly, using long strokes, in the direction of the wood grain. You will see an instant change in colour as the wood absorbs the oil.

      applying hardwax oil to a Nathan teak table


      Once your first coat of hard wax oil has been applied, leave it to dry overnight or for at least 8 hours.  Leave your oil-soaked cloth out flat to dry due to the combustible components of the hard wax oil. Or if you wish to reuse it again place it in an air tight container.


      5. DE-NIBBING

      320 grit foam-backed sandpaper for denibbing the hardwax oil finish

      You will need: Gloves | Mask | Protective glasses | 320 grit foam-backed sandpaper


      Once the furniture is completely dry, use the 320 grit sandpaper to gently smooth the surface of your furniture.

      6. SCRATCH AND DENT REPAIR

      using a beeswax repair block to disguise a scratch in furniture
      You will need: Low tack masking tape | Beeswax scratch repair cubeNaked flame (candle or lighter) | Thin plastic card (e,g, old loyalty card)

      If there are any visible, small scratches or dents to your Nathan furniture, then this is the point at which you can repair them.
      Use small strips of masking tape to create a frame around the scratch or dent.
      Select a scratch repair cube which best matches the colour of your furniture.  Heat a corner of the cube over a naked flame and then allow the melted wax to drip into the cavity. 

      Use a thin piece of plastic such as an old credit card to push the wax down into the hole. Remove the masking tape and then use the plastic card at an angle to remove the excess wax so that the raised area becomes smooth.  Lightly sand over the top to complete the repair.

      removing the masking tape to reveal the beeswax repair

      7. SECOND COAT OF HARD WAX OIL

        Repeat step 4 in order to ensure a more durable finish.  This step is optional.

         

        8. APPLY WAX POLISH

          Gilboys pure beeswax furniture polish in a glass LeParfait jar with an air-tight seal

          Charge your wire wool with Gilboys polish by working it around and into the pot of polish. Some people find our polishes can be a little stiff compared to others. This is due to the high quality of ingredients.  
          The action of working the wire wool into the pot will help it to melt the wax and make it easier to apply.  Wire wool is a very effective material for holding the polish so that you can apply it evenly and it is what I have always used as a professional restorer.

          applying beeswax polish to a Nathan teak table

          As with the application of stripper and neutraliser, start in one corner of your furniture and apply the polish sparingly, in long strokes which follow the grain of the wood. As well as seeing the polish being absorbed into the wood you will hear the wire wool gently remove any surface roughness.  
          When you have a nice matt finish, leave the polish to absorb and harden for at least 20 minutes before moving on to the final step.

          9. BUFFING

            The open-weave of the pure cotton buffing cloth prevents the wax overheating and smearingpure cotton buffing and polishing cloth with an open weave

            Use an open weave, 100% cotton buffing cloth to buff the beeswax polish to a soft sheen.  We use an open-weave cloth to reduce the heat generated by the friction of buffing. This in turn reduces the likelihood of the top layer of wax melting and causing streaking.
            Again, use linear strokes to buff from left to right and you will soon see the surface of your Nathan furniture develop a beautiful lustre.  You don’t need to apply much pressure in order to achieve a pleasing result.
            If you want to apply a second coat of polish then I would advise waiting for at least 3 days before repeating steps 8 and 9.  If not, enjoy gazing at and using your newly restored piece of Nathan furniture and feel the satisfaction of having completed the whole process yourself. Good luck!

             

            Visit our Youtube channel for more videos on furniture restoration.

            COMPLETE LIST OF ITEMS REQUIRED




            Simon Gilboy
            Simon Gilboy

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