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REFINISHING EARLY JAGUAR WOODWORK

This piece is written (3/96) because I've received numerous compliments and questions about the wood finish in my original-condition '59 Mk IX -- not a super-high gloss over-restoration; rather, a deep "glow" that emphasizes the veneer patterns and colours. In fact, Jaguar did all the wood pieces by hand in the old days without all the modern Varathane, etc. Larger pieces were signed and dated on the back by the craftspersons (not just assembly-line workers!) who created them; they were proud of their work, as they should have been.

Also -- be aware that the larger veneer pieces had the veneers matched car by car, so changing a piece nowadays will result in a different veneer pattern.

If you follow these steps in order, you can achieve a finish that closely matches how the wood looked on a new car. This process takes a lot of your time and some patience (trying to rush will screw the job up), but it's not really expensive.

(1) Analyze all the visible wood trim pieces for damage to the veneer. I recommend that you photograph it in place, close-up (macro lens, etc.), using small post-it notes to identify each piece. Take notes, piece by piece, on any damage you find.

(2) I recommend that you proceed from here on piece by piece, rather than removing all the wood at once and winding up with a bunch of unidentifiable lumber. If you want new mounting screws, take the originals to a good hardware store and match them -- cheap! For each individual piece, follow the Refinishing steps.

REMOVING/INSTALLING WOOD PIECES

I recommend that you follow this removal/installation sequence, from rear to front:

(a) Strips surrounding windows -- all are mounted by wood screws, accessible under the door sealing rubber (just lift it up carefully with a small screwdriver, and unscrew the screws). Start with the right rear piece, which wraps around the rear vent window (2 0r 3 screws). Refinish it as outlined in REFINISHING below, then reinstall it. Then, remove the long upper strip over the door windows( 5-6 screws); refinish and reinstall. Then, remove the short front strip along the side of the windscreen; refinish and reinstall. Repeat this sequence for the left-side window surround strips.

(b) If your car has the wood trim on the top of the front seat(s), open the picnic tables and remove the wood screws (bench seat, 4 screws; bucket seats, 2 screws per piece), then remove the trim pieces. Refinish and reinstall.

(c) If your car has the picnic table(s) behind the front seats, find the wood screws (tables open) and remove the assemblies. Disassemble, refinish wood, reassemble, and reinstall.

(d) Doors -- remove the capping piece from each door (4 screws with cups), then lift out the larger panels upward (they clip into the door). Refinish and reinstall.

(e) Upper windscreen surrounds, 2 pieces -- remove the wood screws (4 with cups), refinish and reinstall. Note the chrome centerpiece, Mk VIII and IX; clean up or have it rechromed before reinstalling wood.

(f) Upper dash (carries the rear-view mirror, ashtray on Mk VII, passenger grab, Intermediate Speed Hold/Overdrive switch if there, brake warning light if there) -- remove the upholstery trim pieces below the panel, remove the ISH/OD switch and BWL if there by pulling the switch/light (unscrew chrome hold pieces) and disconnecting the wiring (tag wires and switches/light with tape to make reconnection easy), remove the left/right bolts holding the panel, remove the panel. Remove the mirror, ashtray if there, and passenger grab. Refinish, replace the mirror, ashtray if there, and passenger grab, and reinstall the panel, replacing the ISH/OD switch and BWL if there.

(g) Instrument panel -- remove upholstery panels under the panel, all knobs and switch handles (a small nail works well to push the spring holders in), the ventilator handle (screwdriver), the two bolts at the bottom left and right, and the two upper left & right mounting screws (by hand). Remove the panel. Refinish and reinstall.

(h) Compartment doors, left & right -- remove by unscrewing 4 small brass screws per door in the hinges. Remove hinges (2 small brass screws per hinge), small handles (1 screw/handle), and the lock on the locking door (3 screws). Refinish and reinstall the hinges, handles, and lock, but do not reinstall the doors (4 small brass screws) until after the next step.

(i) Panels behind compartment doors -- I recommend leaving these in; they're the least damaged, and the hardest to get out. Refinish (but do not strip, just sand carefully) and reinstall compartment doors.

REFINISHING

For each individual piece, follow these steps:

(a) Strip the piece. I recommend a mild stripper such as Ace Hardware #12058, Heavy Bodied Stripper. Use a 1" brush to flow the stripper on all surfaces to be stripped (the visible ones), let it sit for 10 minutes, rub it down with a biscuit of 1000 (fine) steel wool dipped in stripper, let it sit for another 10 minutes, spray it with cold water (a garden hose controllable nozzle) while rubbing with a new, dry biscuit of 1000 steel wool, dry the piece IMMEDIATELY with a terrycloth towel, and put it away to dry thoroughly. DON'T let the water stay on for any reason; it could warp the wood!

(b) Sanding: Once the piece is thoroughly dry, sand all visible surfaces GENTLY with the finest grade of garnet sandpaper (for wood). DON'T use high pressure; a pound or two with your fingers is enough. Otherwise, you might go right through the veneer (1/64" thick when new). Just keep sanding LIGHTLY until the finish is smooth.

(c) For damaged veneer: Find a GOOD woodworking place; take the damaged piece in and ask if they can supply some veneer that's close. When you find some, buy more than you'll need (it comes in rolls, and they'll cut off as much as you want). Where the damage is, find some veneer lines on the wood to be restored that surround the damage, use a razor knife to cut along those lines, lift the damaged piece out, and find a place on the new veneer that closely matches in terms of lines. Cut it out of the new veneer using the piece with the damage as an exact match, and glue the new piece in using Elmer's Carpenter's Wood Glue -- very sparingly; you just need to cover the surface. Clamp the piece using terrycloth under the clamp(s) so as not to damage the wood, and let it set at least overnight. Then, sand again with the fine garnet paper along the joints of the new piece until you're satisfied with the smoothness.

(d) Staining: I've had great success with Watco Danish Oil Finish in medium walnut. Once you're satisfied with the smoothness of the wood overall, use a small paintbrush to detail the joints of any veneer repairs with Watco, and put the piece away safely at least overnight. Then, rub Watco into all visible surfaces using a terrycloth washcloth, drying with a clean washcloth when it's totally covered. You'll be amazed at the restoration of colour, but you're not done yet! If there are any places notably lighter than the rest, put more Watco on them and dry. When you're satisfied with the colour, put the piece away safely at least overnight (2 or 3 days would be better).

(e) Waxing: Now, put a thin coat of Watco Satin Wax Dark on the visible surfaces. Let dry for 10 minutes (more if it's cold weather), wipe with a clean terrycloth washcloth until dry, then polish with a clean terrycloth towel. For additional luster, use the satin wax as a lubricant while rubbing with #600 wet-or-dry sandpaper, let dry for 10 minutes (more if cold), then polish as above.

For even more luster and lasting protection: Apply a thin coat of Minwax Paste Finishing Wax to all visible surfaces, let dry for 20 - 30 minutes (more if cold), then buff with a terrycloth towel. If you've followed the above procedures, your wood will glow! Use the Minwax every 3 - 4 months as continued protection for your now beautiful, classic wood.

Larry Martz, Registrar, Mk VII/VIII/IX
9027 Newhall DR
Sacramento CA 95826 USA
(916) 363-9561, Email jagmkix@cwo.com


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