Restoration Tips

With Ray Slater

A picture of Ray Slater

What To Look For When Buying A Radio

Firstly, make a visual inspection of the case. Look for:

Then make a visual inspection of the chassis, ie:

Then look for any items that may be difficult to obtain, ie:

Now is the time to decide if the radio is worth buying. Add up the purchase cost and the estimated restoration cost, and compare the total to the value of a restored radio of the same type.

Doing A Wooden Cabinet Restoration

How To Do A Full Restoration

For a full restoration of a wooden cabinet, the following tools and materials will be required:

The following steps will be required:

1. Make the cabinet clean and mechanically sound

2. Stripping

3. Fill holes and replace missing veneer

While it is not necessary to fill all normal "wear and tear marks" in a cabinet, significant holes and missing pieces of veneer should be repaired.

4. Apply the Finish

Before applying any finish, apply two coats of shellac using either a brush or a pad. The advantages are:

Shellac is purchased as flakes, and must be dissolved in metho before it can be used. While the shellac can be applied with a brush, it is very easy to get runs as the shellac is so thin, and these runs set very quickly, resulting in vertical colour stains on the cabinet. The use of a pad will make the application easier. You only need to allow 15 minutes between shellac coats.

Tips on using Estapol

The conventional Satin Estapol is probably as good a finish as any other for the old radio cabinets. However, there are a few tricks to obtaining a professional looking finish. They are:

Allow 12 hours for the first coat to dry, then sand down lightly with 400 grade non clogging paper before vacuuming again and applying the second coat. Allow the second coat to dry for a week, and then rub the cabinet down lightly along the grain with 0000 steel wood liberally coated with a good wax polish. I use Antiquax Original Wax Polish or Briwax Original. I tend to not rub the painted areas.


If you decide to paint parts of the cabinet, many paint shops will match the original colour if you take a sample to them.

I apply the paint between steps after the first coat of Estapol has dried. This has the advantage that if you apply paint to the wrong area by mistake, it is very easy to wipe the paint from the Estapol finish. Two coats are necessary to give a complete cover over the top of the Estapol finish.

Miscellaneous Items

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