Antique Radio Restoration Volume 4
Wood Cabinet Repair & Refinishing
By Bret Menassa
Reviewed By Ray Bintliff, W1RY
Bret continues his radio restoration series with Volume 4. This time he covers the repair and restoration of wooden cabinets. (Editor)
In this DVD, Bret Menassa shows how to repair and restore wood cabinets much like he did with plastic cabinets in Volume 3 (reviewed in the March 2006 A.R.C.). By using cabinets that are in very poor condition, he is able to demonstrate a wide range of repair and restoration techniques. His methods are practical and easy to duplicate. If you have hesitated to refinish a cabinet, this video should provide the encouragement needed to give it a try.
As with plastic cabinets, Bret suggests that you practice on junkers before moving on to other radios in your collection. All of the materials and tools needed to accomplish these repairs are readily available. Enclosed with the DVD is a suggested list of supplies. Some of the supplies, such as solvents, are potentially hazardous, and Bret provides precautionary advice.
Many cabinets in need of repair suffer from missing or lifted veneer. Replacing veneer can be a problem because new veneer may not match the grain, color and thickness of the old veneer in your radio. The DVD will show you how to remove the veneer from a donor cabinet and use it to patch the cabinet under repair. Bret also demonstrates how to repair delaminated veneer and plywood. The video is a very effective medium for conveying these techniques.
You will also learn about dry stripping (sanding) and masking prior to stripping with chemicals. Bret shows that in some cases it is not necessary to strip the entire cabinet and that some of the original finish can be saved. The video provides detailed instructions for using lacquer-based toners for the finish coats and stresses the importance of applying light and even coats.
Other topics include sanding techniques, the use of wood sealers and fillers, the types of glue to use and when, how to select and match veneer, replacing missing wood and covering mistakes. In this regard, Bret's presentation is candid. When he makes a mistake, he shows how to recover and charges ahead.
Like his other DVDs, the time consuming tasks are done off camera so that the presentation moves along nicely. The DVD includes the usual FBI warning about unlawful reproduction, but Bret has inserted a plea of his own. Be sure to pause your DVD player and read it. I think you will enjoy it.
Bret also makes some interesting observations. Usually radios that need cabinet work, and particularly veneer work, can be bought inexpensively. By performing your own cabinet restoration, you end up with a nice radio at low cost. He believes that how a radio is refinished is a matter of taste. Shiny, dull or whatever -- it's your choice. But he does suggest not tampering with the patina or finish on brass escutcheons. In this case, shiny does look right.
Although Bret recommends Pledge polish, a number of refinishers do not because it contains silicone. Bret concurs that silicone could be a problem, but only when refinishing.
The DVD's run time is 108 minutes and the audio/video quality is top notch. As presented, the restoration methods are practical and should be easy for most collectors to carry out. Regardless of your present skill level, you'll find the many good ideas in this DVD useful.
Antique Radio Restoration (Volume 4) Wood Cabinet Repair & Refinishing sells for $39.99.
(Ray Bintliff, 2 Powder Horn Lane, Acton, MA 01720-2014)