Jewelry bench restoration question

Hello there!

I’ve had my pre-owned jewelry bench for many years. At one point in time it resided on a porch where it received too much sun. As you can see from the pic it caused all these bubbles. I’ve also burned the top quite a bit from my torch.

I would really love to be able to sand it down and put on a darker finish. Someone once told me that it wasn’t possible with this sort of finish- but I’m not sure if he knew what he was talking about. Does anyone have some ideas on this? I have no idea where to start.
Would appreciate any help.

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Is it proper wood?
If so the paint/coating can be stripped and reapplied,
there are probably a better choice of coatings today than when it was new.
I think woodworking forums may know this very well.

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I believe this is the bench: Standard Jeweler's Workbench - RioGrande

“High-density compressed hardwood top with heavy lacquer; laminate plywood sides”

Thank you for your input

I had that same bench years ago. I hope that I didn’t pay over $600 for it because it really never served my purpose. A lot of my work is very heavy and needed a more solid bench to work on. It did make a great fly tying bench. I eventually wore it out and disposed of it. As I remember, the finish was a manufactured material that probably would not take refinishing. My current soldering bench is made out of a 2X4 frame with a 4 foot section of bowling alley for the bench. It is full of dings, dents, stains and burn spots. I scrub it down with steel wool twice a year and that is the closest it gets to being refinished. Other bench surfaces include copper sheet, Formica, raw plywood and laminate…Rob

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Some of these benches have chipboard tops while others have solid softwood tops. Either way, any surface can be refinished, how depends on what the surface is made from.
If yours is chipboard or similar compressed wood don’t use a chemical stripper as compressed wood can soak up liquids and swell. Your best bet is to simply sand the surface until the old finish is either removed completely or is smooth enough for your taste. Then apply new finish.
In professional shops the bench tops are laminated hardwood, like butcher block, and the only finish is paste wax, like the late, lamented Johnson’s Paste Wax.

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My bench is the one Dad used for a good few years. Raw maple covered with grooves and notches and pencil lines and measurements. Most Dad put there and some I have. I would not be surprised if Rob made a mark or two. That documentation is a history of that bench and shouldn’t be lost. My sons will have it at some time.

I have contemplated building a new bench. My requirements are much the same as Rob’s in that I need a dense, heavy bed. Probably maple as well. But I would add a disposable surface that could take a few years of use and then be replaced. Like everyone’s individual styles I am sure their benches have the same individuality. Maybe this year, maybe not.