Refinishing Bakelite cabinets
lends itself to a straightforward cleaning and polishing process, for
which 'Bake-O-Brite' polish may be obtained (see Radiophile magazine
details by following the link from the BOOKS page). Many restorers
prefer to use Brasso metal polish, which works very well. T-Cut car
polish also works well, but is slightly more abrasive than Brasso and
perhaps best for cabinets that have become badly dulled. Both Brasso and
T-Cut do tend to leave a yellowish residue in corners which can be
difficult to remove. Some surface marks can,
with great care, be removed by the use of wet/dry paper but there is the
ever-present danger of creating a light patch on the surface. Suitably
coloured wax sticks can be obtained from woodworker's suppliers and
Do-It-Yourself outlets. Although these sticks are intended for wooden
furniture, it is possible to melt the wax into chips or dents in a
cabinet, using a clean
soldering iron or a match (carefully!). Once set, it can be carefully levelled using a craft
knife blade held in the fingers, then gently buffed. This is not a
certain repair and it has no inbuilt strength, rendering it unsuitable
for cracks, but worth a try if all else fails.
may be repaired using Milliput. I prefer the superfine white variety.
Obtain this two-part epoxy filler from stationers and craft/model shops. Follow the simple
instructions enclosed. It has to be painted to match the Bakelite but with original spray-painted sets such as the one described below,
that is not a problem.
example preparation and finishing technique described below applies in
general to any painted Bakelite cabinet. Select a suitable primer for your
choice of gloss colour.
T18DA (pictured at the right of this page) Approx.
date of manufacture: 1949
very small cabinet is a cream sprayed single-piece moulding in Bakelite.
Good performance considering the size limitations - these types of set
were usually bought as second sets, perhaps for the kitchen or
original finish was, as is so often the situation with painted sets, in
a very poor condition. It was dull, had crazed over much of its surface
and was quite deeply scratched.
paint stripper removed the original paint. Surface blemishes that showed
after stripping were filled with car body filler and finished with
cellulose knifing putty, both products being available at car accessory
shops. IMPORTANT: with regard to the cellulose putty, it must be applied
thinly indeed. It will not successfully fill deep gouges, because it
gives the deceptive appearance and feel of having dried but after
several weeks it will shrink to reveal the damaged area as a slight
depression. If in doubt, use Milliput or a similar two-part filling and
repairing resin as these products are stable and do not show a tendency
to shrink, once fully cured.
coats of aerosol priming paint were applied, then rubbed down with fine
wet/dry paper, used wet with soap as a lubricant. The top coats were
then applied, again using car aerosol paint of a suitable colour. After
a couple of coats, rubbing down was carried out. After perhaps five or
six coats, after becoming hard dry the surface was wet/dry treated
again, with very fine (1000 grade) paper, then cut back to a soft gloss
is worth mentioning that many Bakelite cabinets, when stripped of their
paint, show beautiful markings and a pristine gloss. In such cases,
careful consideration should be given to the final finish required:
should it be repainted, or left alone? It is certainly permissible to
leave alone if the set was originally available as a choice of colour or