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Cerused Oak Table

Ever since I read this post by Make Me Pretty Again, I have been interested in cerusing a piece of oak furniture.  Cerusing is an old technique from the 1600’s that used lead to fill the porous surface on certain woods; it is also called liming. Originally, it was a type of preservative to ward off insects and rot.   It was very popular in the Art Deco era and is making a comeback today in modern furniture, flooring and kitchen cabinetry.  Lead is no longer used but rather some form of whiting.

These beautiful examples are from Houzz :

I bought a 1980’s side table to experiment with.  The straight lines make it contemporary and also easier to strip.    DSC_0001(13)                It was covered with a thick polyureathane finish which is not easy to remove.  I started with an eco-friendly stripper but after several coats, it still was not all off.  I have had problems with stripping oak in the past.  Oak has a lot of tannin in the wood which reacts with water and certain acids and I have found that the eco-strippers will leave grey streaks on the wood.  They don’t sand out although you would think that they would.  I think this  probably only happens with oak that has a poly finish because you have  to keep applying the stripper but I am not sure.  After some research, I learned that you can use oxalic acid to even out the colour ( you use this on decks, for example) but I didn’t know where to get it so I tried laundry Oxy-Clean and it actually worked.
After that, I followed the steps laid out in this excellent post by The Ornamentalist.  I bought an aniline dye from Lee Valley, I scrubbed the grain with a brass brush, put on a coat of shellac then mixed Old White chalk paint with wax and wiped it across the wood.  The result is excellent and except for the stripping, I would definitely try it again.
DSC_0003(10)DSC_0011(8)DSC_0006(7)DSC_0010(6)

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10 thoughts on “Cerused Oak Table

  1. That came out so lovely! I like the dark color! I bet you will definitely be trying that technique again.

    Thanks for linking up to our Twirl and Take a Bow Party. Hope to see you again this Tuesday!

  2. An interesting technique. Did the oxy clean create the gray color? It looks great! Thank you for sharing at What We Accomplished Wednesdays. Have a lovely weekend! ~Deborah

  3. No. I used the oxy to bleach out grey streaks that were caused by the stripper. Oak will turn grey when it interacts with water or certain chemicals. What you are seeing on the table now is an ebony dye/stain that has been lightened a bit when the white wax was applied. Thanks for the comment.

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