It’s time for some annual varnish and we’ve been taking it down a bit more to bare wood. The caprail is made of Honduras mahogany. Previously I’ve been able to get away with just a light sanding and a topcoat of varnish. But in several spots, we’ve needed to get down to the wood itself.
And there’s my problem. Wherever we sand, the amber color (the varnish) disappears and is replaced by a darker reddish color (on the left in the above photo – the natural color of the wood). Either of which would be fine, but the combination of patchwork colors is completely unacceptable.
So my questions are:
1.) Why is this happening?
2.) How did they get it to the golden amber color?
3.) Am I going to have to take the whole frippin’ thing down to wood and live with a reddish caprail from here forward?
The ideas we’ve kicked around tonight have ranged from chemical strippers to heat guns (Brock doesn’t think I have the patience for that, but if it works without sacrificing any wood, he might be surprised). I’ve read Wittman, who deplores sanding more than anything when doing brightwork and I can be a disciple and learn to heat/scrape.
Anybody out there understand WHY my mahogany is going red on me? Is that it’s natural color? It would probably be spectacular that way as well (I love my dark cherry floors, after all). But I just don’t get it.
****More research later…OK, so apparently Honduras mahogany is naturally a “coppery-brown” reddish wood. I still can’t figure out how they got it blonde. A stain? I do like the blonde look, but don’t want the “blonde-russet patchwork quilt after years of varnish repairs” which was described by some folks. Russet OR blonde. Not both.
Meanwhile, Brock has acquired both heat gun/scraper and a gallon of chemical stripper. Evidently, we each get a five-foot section and we’ll “race” to see who gets done first. I may have to remind him that the quality of the job matters as well. There’s little doubt in my mind that chemicals will be faster.
++++ Later again…ooooh, my new very favorite friend ~ the heat gun! Wow, that was truly awesome, the varnish just came right off of her sweet and easy. And for all of the detail areas (window frames, etc), well, I’m never going back to any other lame techniques. That is much too easy (no dripping of chemicals, blowing of sawdust)! I’m thinking the mahogany is just going to be darker than it was. Which is fine with me as long as it’s consistent. Should actually be quite lovely, I think. But HOW DID THEY GET IT BLONDE IN THE FIRST PLACE???