Back To Antiquing Basics (Or How To Clean Antique Furniture) We Have Your Collectibles

I love to save money on EVERYTHING, and because I’m such a tightwad, I love getting stuff for free. To treat deeper scratches that gouge into the wood, use wood filler or a colored filler wax stick available at hardware and home improvement stores. For old furniture, to clean wood, mix 2 parts Gum Turpentine to 1 part Raw Linseed Oil and apply as above. Kevin Southwick specializes in the conservation and restoration of antiques and in custom wood finishes. Mineral spirits will evaporate from the wood completely without leaving any residue.

It’s not lemon oil or scratch cover; the literature says it works by re-moisturizing old wood. If it’s an old piece of furniture with a red based stain or the furniture has water marks, it’s difficult to cover up those imperfections. I have been asked to try and preserve a Widdicomb furniture set from the late 1800s that consists of a twin bed, dresser and a desk.

If you have used sprays and polishes in the past or suspect that furniture has been polished with them, be aware that residues can interfere with refinishing and may need professional attention. If you have heat or water marks, firstly, tsk tsk, secondly, you can restore the wood by applying mayonnaise to the area, leaving it overnight and then buffing it into the table in the morning.

When the furniture is clean, rinse off the detergent with water and then carefully and thoroughly dry the wood with a soft cloth or a towel. If the item has a build up of furniture polish or heavy waxes or oils I will use a soft rag (socks, old t-shirt, etc.) and some mineral spirits to wipe the piece. OLD ENGLISH® Oil products add a great shine to your wood and help protect it from everyday stains. Spray some of the mixture onto a clean cloth (or dip cloth in it) and gently apply to wood in a circular motion.

It never fades even if modern styles keep on changing but still vintage goes with modern styles if you want to mix them. These pens will color bare wood (like an edge chip); Almond Stick and Restor-A-Finish will not. This natural wood cleaning product is formulated with olive oil, fractionated coconut oil, and pure plant essential oils. Yes, that’s right, regular old mayo that you probably keep in your fridge for sandwiches. Using a clean duster or rag (which does not have loose fibres that may catch on veneers etc) dust down the item of furniture you wish to to clean old wood furniture

Smoke will leave a brown film on the wood, and as you gently clean it, you may find the furniture brighter, with more visible, beautiful wood grain showing. This combination seems to do the trick – the vinegar provides a cleaning agent and the oil conditions the wood. The tape also keeps you from accidentally gouging the wood with the sharp corner of the blade. Even if a piece stops working as furniture, the wood can be recycled into something else. For medium to light woods like pine and oak use OLD ENGLISH® Light Wood Scratch Cover. If the old finish is very thin or worn, apply one or two coats of spray varnish, spraying carefully to cover the wicker or rattan evenly.

With all furniture I buy – I start with a duster, a vacuum cleaner with a brush fitting and a long haired brush. Rinse the cloth when it becomes visibly dirty or switch to a clean rag and continue until the entire piece has been cleaned. But, there is no point whatever in cleaning bare wood with TSP, or latex painted wood with TSP. Keep soaking and ringing out your cloth inbetween wiping down the item and continue until you are happy that it is clean. Color the scratch, or larger blemish, with a felt-tipped pen containing a stain of the appropriate wood color.

If the finish on your project piece(s) has more problems than just being dirty and dull, cleaning isn’t the right place to start and you should read about the other options first. Soak a good quality furniture cloth such as the one pictured below in the mixture and then ring out until almost dry. I gave this solution a try and, honestly, the wood looks BETTER than it did when we first got it 23 years ago! The coloring material and oils in the wax may stain the wood making it impossible to remove. After the surface is wiped down with paper towels, go over the wood again with paper towels soaked in denatured alcohol.

It is also excellent for new furniture manufactured with wood that has not been properly seasoned with the wood showing signs of drying and cracking. The finish removal techniques described in this how-to will remove the rich patina of very old furniture. I’m not sure it would be a good idea on something super shiny (sealed/lacquered) since it might make tiny scratches in the finish, but for old dry wood that looks beat up and battered already, it certainly removed a lot of things that I thought were deeply rooted into the stain (they must have been sitting right on top).

Once you’ve removed as much finish as possible with the stripper, scrapers, and steel wool, follow the manufacturer’s directions for cleaning the stripper from the wood. The best technique is to apply a thin layer of wax, allow it to harden for a short while, then burnish with a soft, clean cloth. Wring out over the wood piece and let sit for just a moment, and then begin to wipe.

Spray the cleaner onto a soft cotton cloth and apply in a buffing motion to the wood furniture. If the finish still seems dirty, clean lightly with #0000 steel wool dipped in a cleaning product. Clean, dry, soft cloths or feather dusters will effectively remove dust; however, to avoid scattering the dust into the air, where it floats until landing back on furniture surfaces, dampen the cloth very slightly.

Kevin sticks self-adhesive sandpaper to tongue depressors or craft sticks to make precision sanding blocks (Photo 4) You can also use spray adhesive or even plain wood glue to attach the sandpaper. But if you try to go to a chili’s in a small town in the southwest at, say, 3pm on a tuesday afternoon, you’ll have to wait two hours for a table. It’s also a good idea to use paste wax on furniture finished using penetrating oils. Begin at the bottom of the furniture and work your way up. Immediately wipe the wax off the old furniture with a clean and dry lint-free cloth. Follow by rubbing some coconut oil onto another clean cloth, and apply to wood in a circular motion.

If you do use TSP, then I would also clean the residual TSP off the piece of furniture with a clear water wash or denatured alcohol. I think this project could save a lot of people from schlepping their furniture to a costly professional refinisher. Furthermore, many wood pieces are handmade, and since no two trees come with the same tones and markings, no two pieces of furniture will look exactly the same.

For those asking about Murphy’s Oil Soap, it’s a pretty simple wood cleaner made primarilly of plant derived cleaners and water, The spray is a diluted version of the good old fashioned and concentrated floor cleaner. Surfaces crack, water spills, finishes fade and scratches can mar the shine you love so much in your favorite wooden table or chair. Apply the solution with a dampened clean cloth, (not dripping wet) and rub a small area at a time.

The original owner apparently read the newspaper on it for years, the ink soaked in, and he may have oiled, making the ink absorb into the wood even more. Next, I will use a small amount of Dawn mixed with some warm water and clean the furniture using another soft rag that has really been squeezed out until it’s just slightly damp. This method takes the longest to dry because you open up the grain of the wood and it stays wet for a while. You want to build up a good finish with wax, one that will seal and protect the wood underneath. It also helps prevent the exchange of moisture between the wood and the atmosphere. I am using your magic method on a danish dining table i probably paid too much for.

But you should wear gloves and work in a very well ventilated area when you use it. It will remove wax finishes and create a whitish residue on some old finishes so testing it on a spot that’s out of sight is wise. Oil polishes, cleaners, and furniture oils protect wood by making the surface more slippery; they do not offer a hard protective layer.

But this method has worked well for me a number of times, including with old wood furniture that developed a musty, mildew-like smell from being damp. I have a dining room table and chairs that I’ve cleaned with Murphy’s Oil Soap and now it needs to shine. Today’s homes, especially, are often heated with forced air heat, which can tend to dry out furniture quickly. There are general maintenance steps you can employ to extend the life of your furniture.

OLD ENGLISH® products provide the right kind of polishing and protection for virtually all types of wood surfaces. Teak has a lot of oil in it naturally which is why it stands up so well to outside use but also means you want to be careful when you refinish. I prefer the orange oil, but I also seen somewhere to give wood furniture a face lift you can use very thick instant coffee!