I have an old trunk that was apparently covered at one time with burlap. Most of the burlap has disintegrated and is long gone. I would like to refinish this trunk. The trunk’s surfaces are covered with what I assume are the remains of the adhesive used to secure the missing burlap. What is the best way to remove this substance? I have tried sanding, but it is a slow and labor-intensive remedy. The sandpaper clogs up really fast. I have wiped the chest down with naphtha, acetone, alcohol, mineral spirits and even warm water in attempts to loosen and remove this substance. A card scraper works, but again, is there a quicker, more efficient way to proceed? – Gary M. Crofcheck
Tim Inman: Furniture restorers and veterinarians have something in common: our “patients” can’t talk to us. If only that old trunk could tell us what that glue is, or when that burlap was put on, or how and by whom.
Regardless of when and where, there are two “most likely” adhesives to consider in this case. One is simply good old hide glue. The other is a gummy material often referred to as “mastic.” True mastic comes from a natural tree resin. In fact, the tree is commonly known as mastic. It exudes the resin much like pine trees ooze rosin. This material was collected and used to make a rubbery semi-flexible adhesive compound to bind things like fabric and leather to furniture – and often tile to floors. Modern mastic materials are compounds of