Tuesday, May 29
One is that I suspect they are finished in catalyzed lacquer. Catalyzed lacquer finishes are well known for chemical resistance. They have an acid catalyst added to the lacquer that causes the molecules to crosslink together much, much tighter (ie, a stronger chemical bond) than regular nitrocellulose or CAB acrylic lacquers.This is great for producing a durable, low maintenance finish - but hell to get off. The best way I've found is sandblasting.
There is also an issue of staples. I pulled out all the steel staples - in many cases this meant digging them out of the wood a bit, making a little more damage to repair - but there are also quite few copper staples in that unfinished band that are set right at or barely below the surface of the wood. Trying to leverage them up and pull them out results in snapping them off every time. This leaves a sharp nub that is too small to grab hold of with pliers and too soft to set below the surface with a nail set, it just curls over on the surface. Sanding with emory cloth might smooth them flush to the wood, but the legs of the staples will remain in the wood and digging them up out of the wood will create a lot of pits to repair.
No, I don't think I'm up for getting these to "pristine" condition. But they do make an interesting little seating bench. They are quite heavy, so quite stable and the bible rack is still on the back side to retain that church pew flavor. I'm sure once someone equipped to do a good job of finish restoration is done with them they'll make a very nice addition to Tammy's home. Pricy, but nice.