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    Re: Navigational Instrument Restoration
    From: Bill B
    Date: 2006 Jan 14, 18:29 -0500

    > The rulers are constructed of some type of hardwood and have an
    > 'ebonized' coating.  There are a few small places where the coating has
    > chipped off.
    > I am still searching for a reasonable procedure for restoring the finish.
    A time-honored technique for restoring small areas of a wood finish is a
    shellac stick, AKA burn-in stick.  They come in many colors, and are melted
    into the depressed area(s) using an electric knife or palate knife heated
    with an alcohol lamp.  The small portion proud of the surface is leveled
    after the application, often with Abrasol (a liquid) and a hard felt pad
    that will soften and polish the shellac but not the surrounding area
    (hopefully).  As most contemporary furniture is lacquer finish (nitrose?) a
    few light coats of lacquer are applied over the repair.  Older items could
    be shellac finish, or a sea-going item varnish or varnish/oil finish.
    To test for shellac (a poor choice for a marine environment), use a little
    alcohol on a rag in a hidden area.  If the surface softens, it is shellac.
    Lacquer thinner will test for lacquer.  Most varnishes or varnish/oil should
    be impervious to both.
    If it is a varnish, you will have to lightly sand before applying varnish
    after the repair, as once the original finish has dried, a new coat will not
    "melt in" as it would with lacquer.  It must have some "tooth" to form a
    mechanical bond.
    At any rate, a good cleaning with mineral spirits would be in order before
    NOTE: If there is grain visible through the finish, you can touch up the
    patched areas (paint in grain) with a water-based marker.  The solvent-based
    finishes will not smear the water-based marker.  Caution--not so with a
    water-based modern (poly) varnish, which you would probably want to avoid
    A local moving company probably has the names of local folks that clean up
    furniture after the movers have had their way with it.  Perhaps you could
    obtain a small quantity of the above items from them, or outsource the task.
    Hope that helps.  If you wish to pursue a DIY course, I can provide some
    links for the materials.

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