Our Roadtrek has oak cabinet doors and some oak interior trim. The cabinet walls are mostly a plastic oak veneer over plywood. The lower kitchen cabinets on our 20-year old Roadtrek had some water spots and discoloration. Several years ago, Roger refinished the two kitchen drawers and the under sink cabinet door so they looked almost new. We attached classy new knobs from the home store. “There are water spots on the closet door, why don't you refinish the rest of the beautiful oak?” said Lynn with a broad smile. Roger explained that refinishing wood is as much fun as a root canal, income tax preparation, and insurance shopping. You have to remove the doors, sand them down to remove discolorations, and then apply a coat of polyurethane – quite time consuming.
Just then our friend, a professional antique restorer and furniture refinisher, asked if he could buy one of our old bicycles. We conferred and researched — our bike was worth $600 to $700 on today's market. So we said he could buy it for $200 AND refinish the oak cabinets, woodwork, and paneling in our camper. Barter should appeal, right?
“OK,” he said, “But I will give you my secret stuff I use in all my refinishing work, and you can do the entire job in an hour or less! And I'll give you enough of this secret stuff to do a big Class A motorhome.” He said he rarely strips anything anymore, and is embarrassed at how little effort is required to get old wood looking great.
He gave us a $20 8 oz. bottle of Kramer's Best Antique Improver, click here for website. It is a creamy yellow emulsion containing beeswax, turpentine, alcohol, and secret ingredients. But it has no silicone, petrochemicals, or other harmful ingredients. Emulsions require shaking frequently as the waxy components quickly separate from the lighter ingredients. You apply it by inverting the bottle onto an extra fine steel wool (0000) pad. Just rub it on the wood and then wipe it dry with a clean rag, such as white shop towels as sold in auto parts stores. That is all there is to it!
White water marks, grime, stains, and bare spots gleam and look refinished with no need to add shellac, varnish, polyurethane, or wax. The directions say don't use it on “modern water based finishes”, and it may be used on new or old, stripped or unstripped, or sanded wood surfaces. Our friend said to go ahead and use it on the drawers we had sanded and polyurethaned. The manufacturer suggests trying it on an inconspicuous area first. The odor is bees waxy, not bad, and soon vanishes. Follow directions on the label, observing all cautions. Roger describes the finish as satin, not glossy, like a fine violin.
Roger refinished all our camper's oak interior in one hour, with 3/5 of the bottle left. (Disclaimer: Neither Lynn nor Roger nor our friend have any financial interest in Kramer Products, Inc.) If you have some wood cabinets in your camper that are looking well-worn, give this stuff a try. You might want to try it on your grandmother's table as well, or her Class A Airstream!