Re-Polishing Marquetry

It's a sad fact that despite our hard work, the quality of the finish on marquetry deteriorates over time. Quentin Smith livens up one of his pieces by re-polishing.

clock with marquetry

I made this little clock for my Mother-in-Law as a thank-you for knitting me a marvellous sweater which featured the sunset design. The polish was a simple build of sanding-sealer, gently sanded back to flat and burnished with a cutting paste to a fairly high gloss.

detail of marquetery with cracked polish

The finish was pretty good at first, but over the years the layer of cellulose sanding-sealer (which was probably a bit thick when first applied) had crazed badly, giving the clock a dull appearance. It had also yellowed with age, dulling the brightness of the harewood 'sea'.

clock with marquetry

I first sanded the whole item back to the bare veneer - removing all the yellowy sealer. I then brushed the piece with a stiff bristle brush to remove dust and then applied three coats of fresh sealer to fill the grain.

After 48 hours I gently sanded down the fresh sealer with 320 grit garnet paper, just revealing the bare surface of the veneer, but leaving the grain filled.

detail of repolished marquetry

A liberal coat of Colron finishing wax was applied and rubbed well in with 0000 grade wire wool and then buffed hard with a soft duster. The result - brighter colours and a finish which should stand up better to the rigors of modern living.

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