whether to strip...or not to strip...???

Discussion in 'Camera Building, Repairs & Modification' started by BradS, Nov 17, 2009.

  1. BradS

    BradS Subscriber

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    So, I have been reading about other folks refinishing their old 8x10 wood cameras....and living a bit vicariously. At the same time, I've been eyeballing the old Kodak 2-d that I have and have been thinking that I could/"should" do a light restore on it and improve its aesthetics a bit. Keep in mind that the darned thing works just fine as it is and makes fine photos....still it is a bit cosmetically challenged.


    So, to the point...I have read about people who use nasty chemical strippers and then completely re-do the finish and others who use a sort of less agressive product, like "Formby's Furniture Refinisher".

    and I am wondering about the differences between the two and the relative benefits of each approach.


    Any insight in this matter would be appreciated.

    What have you used? Why? would you use it again? what would you recommend?

    Thanks!
     
  2. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

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    On my Century restoration I stripped one piece. The rest got just an overcoat of clear laquer, followed by a hand rub-out. The problem with the stripped piece is that the grain filler stripped off also. So it was a lot more work getting that piece to look like the rest. The wood had and still has multiple dents and from 100 years of getting knocked around. I chose that method because it was quick and gave a nice shine. I was anxious to get the camer back together again to start using it.
     
  3. Bosaiya

    Bosaiya Member

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    It's at times like these the great heaven knows
    That we wish we had not so many clothes.
    So let's loosen up with a playful tease
    Like all lovers did through the centuries

    We're just following ancient history,
    If I strip for you would you strip for me?



    Strip it. Nothing looks better than beautifully finished wood and brass. I use acetone and a scraper (just a piece of metal). Pour the acetone on and let it sit for a minute, then scrape off the gunk. Repeat until you have just bare wood. Then start sanding with the grain from 100 grit (if it's rough) up to 800 or higher. Shellac it and finish with carnauba wax. You'll have a beautiful camera that glows in the light and is the envy of all your friends and acquaintances.
     
  4. Mike1234

    Mike1234 Inactive

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    Yeah... git 'er nekked and rub 'er down good!!
     
  5. Bosaiya

    Bosaiya Member

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    Indeed.
     
  6. jmcd

    jmcd Member

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    I think I need to see a photo of the camera, but I am leaning strongly to leaving its history intact and using the camera to shoot.
     
  7. Bosaiya

    Bosaiya Member

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    Is there any reason why refinishing it would make it unshootable? I use all of my cameras whether refinished or original.
     
  8. John Koehrer

    John Koehrer Subscriber

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    In any case. I've used Formby's and the more aggressive stripper and have to say Formby's was much easier to deal with. I used them both on larger than camera pieces & won't use anything but Formby's in the future
     
  9. 36cm2

    36cm2 Member

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    Brad, I've got a couple of questions for you. Doing a small camera shouldn't be that hard. I've refinished a lot of furniture recently (including a 100 year old grand piano top to bottom that took over a year on and off). You can go with the Formby's, but it may actually be faster and you may get better results using the stronger stuff.

    What kind of wood is the camera made of? What is the finish now?

    I would guess it's a stained hard wood with a lacquer on top. If so, I recommend using Klean-strip Premium Stripper (to remove the lacquer coat) and using a 50/50 mixture of denatured alcohol and lacquer thinner (to remove the old stain). Obviously remove anything that isn't wood before you go apply stuff. Use nitrile gloves while handling the chems and do this outside. Apply the stripper liberally with a brush in one direction only once (don't brush back and forth or it doesn't work), cover with wax paper, leave 15 minutes (but don't let it dry out completely), then peel off with a paint scraper. Repeat until you're down to cloudy wood. Then use the 50/50 mixture with 0000 steel wool to clean it up and bleed out the stain. Rub a piece till the stain starts coming up, then immediately wipe behind it with clean paper towel. It takes time and multiple passes depending on how much stain you have, but it comes out totally new. Assuming you don't have chunks of wood missing, you can now finish it as you like. My favorite is Formby's tung-oil finish. Very easy to use, just wipe it on, leave it a day, do it again. The more coats you do, the better it looks. About 4 coats and it looks awesome!! It needs to be refreshed with a coat every year though and it's not that hard against the elements, though, so you may want something tougher. Anyway, hope this helps if you want to do it the more aggressive way.
     
  10. Ulrich Drolshagen

    Ulrich Drolshagen Subscriber

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    All (or at least nearly all) these products contain silicone. It penetrates the varnish down to the wood. After an application you will not be able to get a new coating with varnish on unless you strip it completely including the first layer of wood. Thus I can not recommend it.

    Ulrich
     
  11. BradS

    BradS Subscriber

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    Thanks for all the feedback guys...and sorry to aska question and not follow up sooner. I've been away for a bit.

    To answer some of the questions:

    The camera is a bone stock Kodak 2D (ca. 1948). I'm pretty sure it is is made of mahogany or Cherry. It appears to have the original dark finish.

    The finish isn't bad but is does have a few areas where the varnish (?) has worn away.

    All of the brass is nearly black with...tarnish?

    Oh, and the thing smelss bad! I never knew a camera could smell so bad!

    The bellows appear to be a newer replacement as they are in fine condition.

    I need to take it apart to repair the front focus gearing - and even that is not urgent. It is quite usable and shoots just fine as is.
     
  12. BradS

    BradS Subscriber

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    I really do not understand. If what you say were true of the product I mentioned, it would not even come close to doing what it claims and what others who have used it say it does. Perhaps, we are talking about two different things?
     
  13. TracyStorer

    TracyStorer Member

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    My opinion is that if everything is working fine, you should just use it as is and enjoy the process of making images. (I love wood and metal working, finishing is OK, refinishing sucks, shooting and printing are heaven)
     
  14. SchwinnParamount

    SchwinnParamount Subscriber

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    Ha! That was good. Real good.

    But seriously, I've been thinking of stripping my 8x10 Burke&James down. It is that ugly battleship gray and I hear that under the hideous paint is a beautiful maple body. I'm just afraid that after I get all her clothes (bellows, brass... what have you) off and rub her down, I just won't be able to get her dressed again. That's what pictures are for.

    No, not what you are thinking. Seriously, take good pictures of all the bits before you take the camera apart. You can refer to the images in the event you are stuck putting your baby back together.
     
  15. Mike1234

    Mike1234 Inactive

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    That's good advice and precisely what I would do. My failing memory often leads me to projects that are unfini
     
  16. BradS

    BradS Subscriber

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    Ha! That's interesting...I have owned two of the grey Burke & James 5x7 Commercial View cameras....and really liked the grey paint with bright red bellows. After selling them, I realized I should have kept the one.

    I had big ideas. I let all the crap that I read on the internet infect my head...thought I needed a "better" camera...even though I made many nice photos with the old gray B&J . Turns out, I sold off the battle ships and some other stuff and bought a really nice 5x7 wood field (I'll not mention what brand) in amazing condition and never used it - it was just too pretty!

    In hindsight, I should have kept the B&J and tuned out all that crap on the WWW.

    Maybe, I should try to benefit from this lesson. :smile:
     
  17. studiocarter

    studiocarter Member

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    Some problems I'm having with a hideous old Vageeswari 10x12 is that the bottom is so dented that considerable sanding will be required. how then will the brass pieces fit back on properly? Chisel out the indents? Other wood is missing. What kind of wood filler is best to use? Then, how do you get the filled wood to match the older wood. You can't fill with teak. Will need to paint it with oil paints to match, then shellac? Here is another issue. When old screws are taken out, they do not go back in properly. Inside the hole they rust and corrode; there is no way to screw them in deeper, the wood is too hard, the screw is too dull from corrosion. Toothpicks don't allways work.
    I am reluctant to attempt a complete redo for the above reasons.
     
  18. freygr

    freygr Member

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    On the screws, if they are corroded you replace the screw, and it will hold like when it was new. I bet the screws were brass plated and a hardware store (not Ace(True value), Lowes or Home Depot - big box chains) will have them. There are several places on the web: http://www.microfasteners.com/, http://www.nutty.com/, http://www.mcmaster.com/, And a surprise source https://www.mscdirect.com/ These guys have any machine screw metric or English down to the larger sizes that microfasteners stocks.

    Missing wood you replace with the same type. Small pieces of wood you pay more in shipping that the wood costs. Now on a non-visable location use plastic wood to full and just paint the area after sanding the base flat (just the plastic wood).
     
  19. SchwinnParamount

    SchwinnParamount Subscriber

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    If you have access to a drill press, then attach a drill bit with a SMALLER diameter than the screws you want to put in. Drill out the hole to the depth you want the screws in. Be sure to tape a small piece of masking tape to the drill bit at the depth (as measured from the end of the bit) that you want the hole. Then simply drill into the wood to the bottom edge of the tape on the bit. Presto! You have a new hole in the wood that you can insert your screw into. The diameter of the hole is less than the diameter of the screw threads so there is wood to bit the threads into. An added bonus is that you will not split the wood as you force the screws in to the depth you want.
     
  20. Ulrich Drolshagen

    Ulrich Drolshagen Subscriber

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    During my apprenticeship (some decades ago) I had to refurbish furniture occasionally. With some luck we were able to simply iron out dents with an iron and a damp cloth. Dents are compressed wood. With the damp cloth and a hot iron you can bring the wood to expand again. Do that before sanding, provided it is some kind of furniture varnish, not boat varnish and it is not simply painted.
    Cabinet makers use shellac-sticks for small defects. They are made in different colors to match the color of the wood. Sometimes we applied a small amount of wood glue to the end grain of some piece of wood of matching color and scraped some wood with a chisel off. Thus making our own filler paste
    you can use epoxy applied with a syringe to fill the hole and screw in the screw before the hardenening.
    Ulrich
     
  21. Ulrich Drolshagen

    Ulrich Drolshagen Subscriber

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    I don't know of any products available in the US. It was just a word of warning based on experiences with similar products here. YMMV

    Ulrich

    Ok, AgX just hinted me in the right direction. I've just misread your post. I did'n't think of a stripper but of some kind of furniture polish to brush up the existing varnish. Silicone for a stripper indeed doesn't make any sense.

    Apologies by me

    Ulrich
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 27, 2009