Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Restoring the Finish on Very Old Doors

In an earlier post I described some of the very old doors we bought last year for our new house.
This picture, taken last March, shows the pair we selected for the front entrance. 
Originally old temple doors, they were rescued from demolition India, shipped to New Mexico for sale, and have now finally settled into their new home in Texas.

The doors are made from Neem wood, an evergreen tree from India that is a member of the mahogany family.  The oil produced from Neem is widely used as a biopesticide in organic farming, and Neem wood is highly valued for its insect resistance. 
These doors have had a hard life.
Here is a close-up of the door on the left side.
Grey, dry, weathered wood and the copper insets are completly black.
On their interior side, these doors are have a plain, rough hewn surface that is a glossy, rich brown.
This weekend my project was to begin to restore their exteriors.
I used Restor-a-Finish by Howard on the wood.
It just drank it up.  I could almost hear it!
Here is the door on the right after a rub-down with Restor-a-Finish in the walnut shade.
I have used this product before on stained exterior doors suffering from sun and weather damage, and I really like the way it works, bringing back color and shine without stripping.
Here are both doors, one restored and the other in its original state - quite a contrast!
Hopefully they will have a longer life with some extra care.
Restoring the brass was much more difficult - I rubbed and rubbed and rubbed with brass cleaner. The black stuff was really stubborn. 
My goal wasn't to remove all of the oxidation, just enough to bring out some gleam.  And the brass panels turned out to be so interesting up close, once their character had been revealed.
Each one is unique, a pieced together collection of valuable scraps that are almost paper thin.
The panels on the left hand door will have to wait until next weekend so that my hand has time to recover.
Workers are still milling around the house trying to finish up various projects, but we did unpack enough to spend a few nights (at last!) in this cozy house.
The sunsets are lovely...

1 comment:

  1. Hi,
    We had an old Indian door that I have been wondering how to restore. I gave the Howards product a go and it came up a treat. Took about one and a half litres the wood was so dry. The door is posted on
    if you wanted to see the finished result.
    Thanks Jamie