A friend of mine wants me to refinish there end tables. They told the the tables was made out of tortoise shell wood. Or turtle wood Is there such a thing? Or it just the finish that is on the tables. I have never heard of that type of wood. And i do not want to mess up the tables. Thanks in advance.
I never heard of it, but I googled it and came across a couple of different things, but both refer to a description of how it looks, not any species of wood. I’m not counting the results for actual tortoise shell, although I did see a couple results for inlays using tortoise shell. I’m guessing those would be pretty expensive antiques and if that’s the case, better to send it off to someone that knows what they’re doing.
Anyway, some of the results were wood grain patterns that look like turtle shell pattern. If that’s the case, you should be able to sand of the old finish. Although, be careful you don’t sand through veneers, if there are any.
The other group of results had to do with paint to mimic turtle shell pattern. If it’s painted, obviously you can’t sand it off or you would destroy the existing look. But if the paint is covered with varnish you might be able to lightly sand it and touch up the finish.
tortoise shell is exactly that…the shells of tortoises laminated onto a wood substrate. for the most part we stopped doing that a long time ago. it could also be a plastic laminate made to look like tortoise shell. either way refinishing is a no no. if it’s real tortoise shell then it can’t be refinished (there is no finish) some tung oil might restore some luster to it, if it’s a plastic laminate even trying to polish it could ruin it’s face.