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This Old Crack House

From log house to farmhouse. Farmhouse to townhouse. Townhouse to apartment house. Apartment house to crack house. Crack house to our house. Our house to our home.

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Friday, July 22, 2005

Refinishing wood with burn marks.

The bedroom mantle looked like this when we bought the "Old Crackhouse".

It was one of the first things that Deborah started to strip and for the next four years it looked like this.

Well I finally got to start tackling this room. I pulled the mantle off the wall and finished stripping it using the technique described in my earlier post about stripping wood. I separated the top from the face because it had some nasty burn marks. Using the amber shellac that I am apparently addicted to, the facing looks like this now.

I had to think about how I was going to tackle the top since I had no reference regarding repair of cigarette burns and that large candle burn was going to be a problem to hide. Fortunately I know paint quite well and I know how to mix and match color and I know how to wash surfaces and how to glaze them. So, for the record, here is what I did to repair and restore my wood mantle top.

After stripping the paint from the mantle top I rubbed it with some Golden Oak stain (don't ask me why, I don't know). I then put a coat of thinned down shellac over the surface to seal the wood. I sanded with 220 grit sandpaper to make the surface smooth.

The next thing I did was paint a thin layer of acrylic raw sienna paint over the charcoal black spots in an attempt to lighten the color. I then lightly brushed raw umber acrylic paint in the direction of the grain over the raw sienna to break up the edges of the burn marks.
This actually took care of the cigarette burns quite well but not the big burn mark. I was going to have to resort to artist oil paints for that (which I quite expected). Oil paints dry slowly and allow you to work with them longer so blending color is much easier to do and if you don't like the result you can wipe it off with paint thinners.
The key here is to break up the regularity of the outline of the burn mark and not necessarily remove the dark coloration altogether. I appled yellow ochre oil paint to the surface of the burn. (I don't have any raw sienna colored oil paint). I then blended in some burnt sienna to get the burn mark close to the orange color of the natural wood. I used the edge of a folded paper towel to wipe the surface so as to blend the color and reduce brush marks. I then streaked raw umber across the edges of the burn in the direction of the grain so as to break up the outline of the burn and then applied the ochre again across the edges to break up the outline even more. I continued to use the brush to apply the paint and stroke it in the direction of the wood grain but wiped the surface with the paper towel to blend the color better. The whole process took about 30 minutes and it didn't have to be perfect because 5 coats of shellac will obscure my paint job well. You won't notice that it had a burn. The dark part will appear dark brown and the ochre paint will become an amber orange color.
Here is what the top looked like after the application of the oil paint.

This will take a couple of days for the paint to dry so this is how it looks right now. In a couple of days I will attach it to the lower part and fill the nail holes with wood putty mixed with raw umber oil paint (to darken the putty). I will then apply shellac to the surface and will post a picture of the finished work. Which reminds me of these lyrics by the way;

My name it is Van Gough, lend an ear, lend an ear
My name it is Van Gough, lend an ear.
My name it is Van Gough and one day I had a cough
And my ear it did drop off,
In my beer, in my beer!

That is twice now that I have been able to mention beer in a Houseblog.....


At 7/22/2005 9:38 AM, Blogger Greg said...

That looks pretty good so far. I recall when I stripped all the raised paneled wainscoting in the dining room I used burnt sienna, raw umber, and a third color with a reddish hue to cover the specs of paint in the cracks that I couldn’t get out. I spent almost a week with a cardboard pallet and 2 tiny paint brushes, blending and mixing paints to match grain and color. Over that whole time I doubt I put on more than a tablespoon of paint. It was faux graining on a micro scale.

At 7/22/2005 9:41 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My husband would be quite impressed with your blending technique...he went to the Art Institute of Boston. Now, if I could get him interested in taking care of a few "spots" of our own!! :)

At 7/22/2005 10:30 AM, Blogger Beth said...

The mantle looks amazing. Well done.

At 7/23/2005 11:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gary, the improvements in the house look great and the weather much warmer than when we met you this past winter. Your doing a great job and like you, I like to use Shelac. It is a great product in the work shop and in refinishing old furniture. Another great use is to elimnate odors. I have used inside of furniture drawers and chest. Does a great job.

Will be checking in on the progress of the old family house. Tell Edgar hello for me.

At 7/26/2005 10:20 AM, Blogger K said...

Wow, what an improvement! :) I'd never thought to use paint for that sort of thing.

At 7/26/2005 1:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


At 1/10/2016 10:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i burnt a corner of my mantle i need a quick fix i need to find a way to get the black out any suggestions?

At 1/11/2016 12:24 AM, Blogger Gary said...

I would need more info. Is this painted wood, metal or marble. Shellacked wood could follow what I described here. Send me a picture via the email link. Would be happy to make a recommendation.


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