View Full Version : a problem with the color of a cabinet

09-04-2013, 05:41 PM
i was looking at howards today and then it hit me , what one do i get ? so if i was to put up some pics of sets could you guys tell me if its mahogney or dark mahogoney or cherry or whatever ?


09-04-2013, 06:56 PM
Sure, we can try. I've noticed photos can be deceiving though depending on the source and amount of lighting. For example the color can look different in natural daylight, flash and fluorescent.

09-05-2013, 01:38 PM
from left to right , zenith porthole top , olympic sort of top , olympic side , ge 12t6 , and last one is a motorola , it definately has a different shade then the others , the others seem to be simular in color.... are there mahagoney or dark mahogoney ?

09-05-2013, 01:51 PM
emerson 644B

09-05-2013, 05:33 PM
I cast my vote for the far left one to be cherry.....
But that is the only one that appears to be outside, so as stated above, different lighting than the others..... If you put them all outside on the same day, same place, same camera, all in the sun, or all in the shade, etc.....

You need a really old woodworking book, and removal of the clear coat whatever it may be by sanding, not chemical, then identify the veneer, even if it is still stained.

09-05-2013, 06:25 PM
Pretty much all they used back then for TV cabinet veneer was walnut or mahogany with tinted lacquer to give it some color.

You might be surprised that raw mahogany veneer typically looks like this. Not much red at all. (

Here are my best guesses.

zenith porthole top - red manogany
olympic - brown walnut
ge 12t6- hard to say from this photo. maybe brown walnut or brown mahogany ?
motorola - hard to say from this photo. maybe red mahogany ?
emerson 644B - brown mahogany

Now as for Howards. I use mahogany (redish brown) or walnut (brown). The cherry is very red and the dark walnut too dark for any of my sets. When in doubt, use neutral. It will shine up the old finish but not add any color at all.

Here is there color chart:

09-05-2013, 07:47 PM
I believe the motorola is a 10-VT24R. If so the R stands for red mahogany.

09-05-2013, 09:13 PM
I haven't found a drastic difference when using different Howards RAF colors on dark finishes. In other words, you really can't make a mistake.
Usually when refreshing an old radio cabinet you need the darkest possible RAF to hide surface mars. I find I use the dark walnut the most. If the set has a really red mahogany tone, which is rare in my experience with '30's sets, I will use the red mahogany color. The only exception, of course, is when I used the product on a blonde mahogany set. Then I used the golden oak color which worked very well. Howards RAF is a great product in my opinion.

09-05-2013, 10:03 PM
Just be careful in areas where the finish has a deep scratch or is worn through. The Howards can soak into the exposed wood and made it very dark. That makes the damage even more visible.

09-06-2013, 02:30 AM
The zenith and emerson were taken outside , different days ofcourse , the rest indoor ,the emerson is in my messy trunk.
so if i use walnut on a mahogany finish i'm not puting enough reddish color to it and if i use mahogany on a walnut i'm puting red into something that didn't have t , am i correct ?
so if i applied mahogany to the porthole its going to alter the color , or if i apply mahogany to the olympic which was best guessed as walnut i'd be putting too much red into it ?
so if i use neutral it will shine up but the light scratches if they can be seen on the emerson wont be removed or made to look better ?
i just apply with a cloth , any specific type ? do i leave it on or put it on for a minute or 5 minutes then wipe ?

Phil Nelson
09-06-2013, 03:23 AM
Howards is not like paint or like putting stain on bare wood. It won't drastically change the color of a piece that already has finish on it. I'm not a big fan of the stuff, but I have tried it a few times. It will have a bigger effect on scratches and scuffs than on the undamaged finish. The scratches will be darkened and blend into the background a little. The undamaged finish may darken a little, but not much. You can get a very similar effect by wiping on a coat of stain, letting it set up for a short time, and then buffing it off briskly.

Don't expect it to perform miracles on a heavily damaged finish. It's best for a slightly scuffed & scratched piece that just needs some freshening up.

If you're nervous about using it, get a small jug of, say medium walnut, and try it out on one of your cabinets that you're sure is walnut (i.e., brown rather than red). You can also try it out on some scrap lumber or a junky furniture item. After a few wipes, you'll see what it can do -- and what it can't.

Put some on a cloth and rub that cloth on the cabinet. Wipe it off with a different clean cloth after a minute or a few minutes -- the timing isn't critical. Wipe it off well. You don't want to leave a sloppy wet layer of the stuff on the cabinet to dry.

Phil Nelson

09-06-2013, 12:33 PM
ok i will experiment :)

09-08-2013, 02:38 AM
Ok i tried howards and it is interesting , like already mentioned if it gets into a deep scratch it will appear darker .... how many times should one apply it ? once , twice , 5 times ? ... i did accidently leave a side strip coated with the howards , i forgot about it , when it dried it was ok it is shinny in spots and normal in others, now why is it i'm not supposed to leave it on ?
it really covered up a lot of light scratches to the point where you forgot they were there , is is better then old english , used that in the past on a couple of sets and it made the sets look better but not so sure about it overall.


Phil Nelson
09-08-2013, 02:06 PM
The directions say "wipe dry immediately." Perhaps the Howards website has additional info explaining why it is applied this way. I assume they have a reason. I suspect that a thick layer may not be as durable as the original finish. Or perhaps the layer will end up blotchy -- shinier in some areas than in others.

I have never tried applying more than one coat. You want to darken the lighter-colored scratches without changing the overall color dramatically. The idea is to blend in the scratches with whatever is already there. If you want to darken the overall finish, I'd recommend doing it the right way, by spraying on colored toning lacquer. These old cabinets were originally finished with lacquer.

Again, I don't have a lot of faith in Howard's and I don't use it regularly. My suspicion is that it's not as permanent as a "real" finish such as lacquer. It seems to be popular with people who want to freshen up a tired finish long enough to resell the piece.

The directions recommend that you follow up by buying another one of their products -- Howards wax -- and applying that. Perhaps you could try this and see if you're happy with the results.

Wax is another thing that I don't use on refinished cabinets. Wax is impermanent and I think it collects dirt over time. A cabinet that's properly finished with lacquer will look good for a lifetime. When your cabinet came off the assembly line, it was finished in lacquer, not covered with wax. I have better things to do than haul out all of my things for rewaxing every now and then. If you enjoy waxing, save that for your car :)

Just my $0.02.

Phil Nelson

09-09-2013, 02:20 AM
you are right about the blotching , thats what happened , as far as waxing i won't bother, the howards does make it more prestentable and i'm not a perfectionist and will say that i'm happy improving the look without stripping or whatever.