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Taking Good Care Of Your Furniture

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Taking Good Care Of Your Furniture

Taking Good Care Of Your Furniture 1. WAXY BUILD-UP
When most people think they have a wax build up, most likely the culprit is a softened finish. Oil from your skin, food oils, and some detergents can break down a finish making it sticky, which in turn collects dirt and grime. If the problem lies on an area that is frequently touched. To clean it, try using mineral spirits or naphtha as your cleaning agent. Using a soft rag or #0000 steel wool, this is good for getting rid of a waxy build up. A word of caution though, if your finish has softened all the way through to the wood, this process could leave you with bare wood. If your finish has gotten that bad to start with, there isn't anything else you can do to reverse it other than stripping and refinishing anyway.

2. HIDING LIGHT SCRATCHES
One of the best way's I have found is using a padding lacquer. It really works well on household woodwork as well as furniture when you get a light colored scratch in the finish. You will need a soft cloth. Fold the corners until you can make a tight ball out of the center. Apply the padding lacquer to the pad and tap it into the palm of your hand. (Gloves come in handy here). This will spread it through the pad. Lightly pad in the direction of the grain like it is an airplane coming in for a landing then taking off again. Don't over pad or come to a stopped landing. Let it dry for a couple minute's and reapply if needed until the scratch is melted back in. Usually one swipe is all it takes. This will leave a high gloss finish if you keep padding, so you may have to pad the whole surface to make it all look the same.
Another way of removing light scratches is rubbing them out with polishing compounds. These are best used on high gloss sheens.

3. PAINTING OVER EXISTING FINISH
To paint over an existing finish, there are a few things to consider. One is the overall condition of the original finish. Most factory finishes are done in lacquer and older finishes tend to lose their plasticity and get hairline cracks running through it. If this has happened to your piece or you have bare or worn spots, it may be worthwhile to go ahead and strip the old finish off. Otherwise the cracks will show up in the finished project.
If your finish looks sound, Where you need to start is by removing all the hardware. Any parts that also come off, may make the job easier.
Grab some naphtha or mineral spirits and some clean cloth rags, and wipe the whole piece down once or twice. This will remove any furniture polish or body oils that may still be present. If there is any organic matter left on it, you may have to use a damp rag to remove it before moving on to the next step.
In order to provide the new finish tooth to adhere to, you will need to do some sanding with 400 grit wet or dry sandpaper. sand it until you have removed all traces of the original sheen. To get into some nooks and crevasses, a general purpose Maroon scotch-brite pad works well. Once you are done with the sanding, give it a good blowing off with compressed air (Wear your particle mask) or vacuum up the dust followed with a damp rag.
With all the prep work done, give it a final wipe down with naphtha and let it dry for at least 30 minutes prior to applying your first coat of paint. Make sure you doing it in a dry dust free environment if you can. A tack rag is a very important finishing tool. Oil based finishes are going to be the most compatible to the lacquer, and hold up the best. They do require a paint thinner for cleanup instead of water. Make sure you follow the instructions on the can.

4. WHITE SPOTS FROM WATER
This is the question I get asked the most. How do I remove the white rings and spots on my furniture. Given enough time, water can cause as much damage to wood as can fire. The first step in removing a fresh white spot or ring is simply to do nothing except remove the source of the moisture and any remaining on the woods surface. Then wait.
(Do not apply any furniture polish)
What the white ring consists of is water vapor trapped on the surface of the finish. In some instances, fresh white rings will disappear if given the time to be absorbed by dry air. High humidity will slow this process. A hair dryer will speed up the process, but set it on low and use discretion. Do not, however, presume that if a little heat is good, more heat is better-and reach for the heat gun. The white ring may disappear, but only because you melted the finish around it .
If the white ring refuses to leave on it's own, then you must try the following three suggestions.
If your table has a satin or dull sheen, grab a pad of OOOO Steel wool and some lemon oil or wool lube . Put some on the pad and rub the spot moving in the direction of the grain. Once the spot is gone, you may need to rub the rest of the table top so the sheen is even. Make sure you go with the grain in long even strokes from one end to the other. To finish the task, simply wipe off the remaining oil and apply your favorite polish.
If you have a glossy sheen, You may try using a little bit of white tooth paste on a dry cotton towel. If this leaves a glossier spot than the rest of the table, then you will need to get some rubbing compounds and polishes like you would use on a car's finish. If a mirror finish is not what you want, you can always adjust it down with the OOOO steel wool. Don't forget to use your favorite polish when your done.
Another simple remedy that sometimes works, is to spread some Vaseline on the damage and wipe it off after the spot is gone.
If none of these has worked, then the moisture has penetrated through the finish and is not repairable without refinishing.

5. DO IT YOURSELF DON'TS
If you are trying to repair furniture yourself, do not use any nails, screws, air nail guns, duct tape, twine, metal brackets, coat hangers or other creative fasteners. It just makes things harder for us professionals when you do finally bring in it. Do not use any glue other than yellow or white Carpenters Glue or Hide Glue.

6. HUMIDITY THOUGHTS
Be aware of humidity when doing your own finish work. High humidity in the air will keep finish from drying or will make it "blush" (turn white and dull). If you are having a professional do your finish work, please allow several extra days for your piece to dry completely before using it.

7. IS IT REALLY SOLID WOOD?
Be cautious when buying furniture. Just because someone says it is "solid wood" doesn't mean it is good. Particle board and MDF (Medium Density Fiberboard) are still "wood" but they aren't what you think. They are very hard to repair and much heavier than "real" wood. They will NOT last if under heavy use. Always ask, "Solid what wood?" Furniture marked Solid Oak or Cherry or Ash is a better bet.

8. POTPOURRI KILLS
Believe it or not, potpourri (just about any kind) will eat the finish off of furniture even if it's still in a plastic bag! Don't ever put it directly on any finished piece, even if in a cloth or plastic bag.

9. BUYING CHAIRS
When buying chairs, turn them over and look for any indication of screws or nails. If you see them, it means that the manufacturer did not trust the joints to stay together on their own. It might also mean that significant modifications have been made to the chair in the past that may cause future problems. A professional restoration/repair shop should NEVER add screws or nails where none were present before.

10. REMOVING COLOR
Stripping furniture does not necessarily remove the color from the wood. It may not be possible to lighten the piece to the desired color if it is stained dark. As a general rule, you can always go darker, but you can't always lighten it later. Just to be safe, before staining a light wood, make sure that you are comfortable with it being dark forever. if your furniture has been stained with an aniline dye, you can use some Stain-away to bleach it out. Make sure you do it out doors with a respirator.

11. PLACTIZIER MIGRATION
Do not keep your plastic or vinyl tablecloths, placemats, and other items in contact of your wood finish for an extended period of time. Wood finishes need to breath. If items cover the piece of furniture for an extended amount of time the Plasticizer will eventually leach out and permanently soften the finish.

12. SQUEAKY BED FRAMES
If you have metal bed frames and they squeak, simply apply some oil to the rivets to quiet them down. If your bed is made of wood and it squeaks, it most likely is getting loose and needs to be re-glued.

13. STICKY DRAWERS
Any time you have wood moving against wood, you will need something to keep the parts lubricated. If you have drawers that like to stick, try rubbing some clear Briwax or any other brand of paste wax on both the drawer and the wood it rides upon. It is sometimes shocking what a difference it can make. If it doesn't help, most likely the drawer will need some repair or is worn down.

14. REMOVING DARK STAINS
To remove darks rings, stains or gray oxidation, you will need to use some oxalic acid crystals . It is the main ingredient in the so called deck brighteners. To use them, you have to mix them with warm water until you reach a saturated solution meaning it won't dissolve anymore. Only mix the amount you need. You will need to apply it with a synthetic brush giving the entire surface a good wet coat (not just the stain) . The wood will need to be bare and lightly sanded prior to this step. Make sure you apply it to the whole surface and not just the spot. Leave the acid on until it dries or until the stain has vanished. Follow that with a couple washes of water to remove the residue. The grain will be raised after it dries, so you will need to sand it smooth before finishing. Make sure you use a particle mask when sanding because what crystals are left over will make you sneeze if you inhale them. Do it outdoors if possible.

REMOVING NAIL POLISH FROM A FINISH
This can be a tricky one even for a professional. The only thing you can try is some 600 grit wet or dry sandpaper and a hard flat sanding block. Make sure you hold the block level while sanding the glue down flush. You will get into the surrounding finish, so try to keep it to a minimum. If the polish is pretty thick, you might mask around the spot to protect the area around it.
Once you get it sanded level, you will need to finish sanding the spot with 1200 grit paper.
To get the shine back on a high gloss finish, it will take some rubbing compounds and polishes on a cotton rag and some elbow grease Make sure you polish the entire surface so it all looks the same. Apply your favorite polish to finish it up.
If your table has a satin or dull sheen, grab a pad of OOOO Steel wool and some lemon oil or wool lube. Put some on the pad and rub the spot moving in the direction of the grain. Once the spot is gone, you may need to rub the rest of the table top so the sheen is even. Make sure you go with the grain in long even strokes from one end to the other. To finish the task, simply wipe off the remaining oil and apply your favorite polish.

16. REMOVING THAT MUSTY ODOR
To begin the process of removing a musty odor from the inside of your furniture, you will need to have a spray bottle of denatured alcohol or other anti microbial spray. Open the cabinet and take out all of the drawers and spray the entire inside of the piece. This will kill any mold spores that may be lurking.
Let it dry opened up in a sunny place for a good week. If this hasn't done the job, you will need to go to the next step of sealing the raw wood with any type of finish which will seal in the odor. You could also purchase a small electric ozone generator to eat up the odor causing molecules.
A new approach might be using one of the new products for removing odors from fabrics like Fabreeze. Although I would still suggest killing the mold spores first. I have had a customer who had success with putting an open can of ground coffee inside to absorb the odor.

17. IS IT OIL BASED OR ACRYLIC/LATEX PAINT?
To determine what type of paint is on your furniture, brush some stripper on an inconspicuous spot and see what happens. If it is oil based, the paint will wrinkle and bubble. If it just softens up into a slimy goo, it is latex or acrylic. Oil based paint is the easiest to remove.

18. GLASS TABLE TOPS
Glass tops can protect your wooden tables, but don't let moisture get trapped between glass and wood. Create an airspace by elevating the glass top on clear butyl rubber bumpers available at most glass shops and let your wooden table tops breathe.

19. WOOD SCREW LUBRICATION
Wood screws go in a lot easier when you scrape the threads across some candle or bees wax or a bar of soap first.

20. REMOVING CANDLE WAX FROM A TABLE TOP
If some melted wax gets on your table top, hopefully it hasn't hurt the finish. Since you just cant wipe it off with a damp cloth, you have to scrape it off. Yes it sounds scary, but it isn't really. The scraping tool of choice would be an ordinary credit card. You shouldn't try to scrape it all off at once, but by taking it off in thin layers, it will eventually come off. Since the card is softer than the finish, (We Hope), is doesn't scratch the surface. Once you get as much off as you can, you can then remove the remaining wax with a soft cloth dipped in lemon oil.
Some colored candles can stain a finish. If this happens, it is best to try some rubbing techniques.
If your table has a satin or dull sheen, grab a pad of OOOO Steel wool and some lemon oil or wool lube . Put some on the pad and rub the spot moving in the direction of the grain. Once the spot is gone, you may need to rub the rest of the table top so the sheen is even. Make sure you go with the grain in long even strokes from one end to the other. To finish the task, simply wipe off the remaining oil and apply your favorite polish.
If you have a glossy sheen, You may try using a little bit of white tooth paste on a dry cotton towel. If this leaves a glossier spot than the rest of the table, then you will need to get some rubbing compounds and polishes like you would use on a car's finish. If a mirror finish is not what you want, you can always adjust it down with the OOOO steel wool. Don't forget to use your favorite polish when your done.

21. REMOVING OIL FROM A WOOD SURFACE
The only way to pull grease and oil out of wood is with a poultice. Go to your swimming pool place and get a bag of diatomite or commonly known as diatomaceous earth. Grab a couple of gallons of acetone also from hardware or paint store. Mix the two together to form a paste you can spread over the top. You will need about a 1/2" layer of it. As the acetone dries, the oil gets pulled into the DE .Once it is dry, scrape it off into the trash and repeat if necessary. Most likely it will take at least three applications. You might try putting a heat source directly under the slab at the same time which will drive more oil to the surface. You will need to do this process outdoors because of the intensely flammable and highly smelly fumes.

22. WHAT KIND OF FINISH IS IT?
To determine what type of finish you are dealing with, You will need to do a solvent test. Put some acetone or fingernail polish remover on a finger and rub it in an inconspicuous spot to see if the finish starts to soften. If it does, you are dealing with nitrocellulose lacquer which is predominantly used in the furniture industry. If it doesn't soften, try some denatured alcohol the same way. If it softens with alcohol, you have a shellac finish. If neither one seems to soften the finish, you are either dealing with varnish, polyurethane, catalyzed lacquer, conversion varnish or polyester which are all non-reactive finishes that can't be re-dissolved by their original solvent.

23. GLUING DOWN LOOSE VENEER
If the top is removed, it will be easier to do the clamping during the glue job. Use some liquid hide glue made by the Franklin company since it will bond well with the old hide glue. Try to work some of the glue underneath the loose stuff keeping in mind the there are most likely two layers of veneer. The top layer and the substrate layer which has the wood grain running in the opposite direction than the top layer. You may have to feed glue between all the layers. A long thin bladed spatula is what I use.
Once you have sufficient glue to all recesses, you need to squeeze out all of the excess glue with a veneer hammer, J-roller, or wall paper roller. Keep a damp rag handy to catch the drips.
To clamp it, you will need a flat block of wood that is at least the same size as the loose portion, some C type clamps, and some wax paper to put under the clamp block to keep it from sticking once the glue dries. If you are gluing a descent size area, you will want to start the clamping from the inside working your way to the outside. This will help squeeze out more extra glue that isn't needed, so keep you rag handy again. What you don't want is a pocket of extra dried glue under the surface resembling a bubble on the finished product. If you are gluing in a loose piece or patch, I have found it helpful to use a piece of thick clear lexan as the glue block. This allows me to see through it to make sure the piece hasn't slid on me while clamping. The hide glue doesn't stick to the lexan, so no wax paper is needed.
After drying overnight, you can remove the clamps and block. If the block is stuck, tap the side of it with a hammer like you are spinning it. Lifting it off could take the veneer with it. If you have a finished surface with glue residue on it, a warm wet rag will dissolve the hide glue.

24. BUYING UPHOLSTERED SOFAS, LOVESEATS, AND CHAIRS
When buying upholstered chairs, love seats, and sofas, there are a few things to consider.
There are two types of frames, the cheaper plywood frame and the better hardwood frame. The cheaper frame is more prone to loosing a spring if someone sits down to hard or you have kids that like to jump. If that happens, fixing it could cost you. The hardwood frame won't do you any good unless it is put together with dowel joints.
Stay away from upholstered recliners that have the foot rest that pops out. I have yet to see one that is worth buying. Even worse is the sofa with the recliner built into it.
As for the fabrics, the cottons won't last near as long as the synthetics. A good heavy tapestry will wear like iron.
Make sure you ask a lot of questions. What is the warrantee? Do they deliver? Can it be upgraded with a better fabric or legs? Make sure you shop around.

25. REMOVING SUPER GLUE FROM A FINISH
This can be a tricky one even for a professional. The only thing you can try is some 600 grit wet or dry sandpaper and a hard flat sanding block. Make sure you hold the block level while sanding the glue down flush. You will get into the surrounding finish, so try to keep it to a minimum. If the glue is pretty thick, you might mask around the spot to protect the area around it.
Once you get it sanded level, you will need to finish sanding the spot with 1200 grit paper.
To get the shine back on a high gloss finish, it will take some rubbing compounds and polishes on a cotton rag and some elbow grease. Apply your favorite polish to finish it up.
If your table has a satin or dull sheen, grab a pad of OOOO Steel wool and some lemon oil or wool lube . Put some on the pad and rub the spot moving in the direction of the grain. Once the spot is gone, you may need to rub the rest of the table top so the sheen is even. Make sure you go with the grain in long even strokes from one end to the other. To finish the task, simply wipe off the remaining oil and apply your favorite polish.

26. BUYING ANTIQUES
Your best defense when buying antiques as an investment is simply to be well informed. Read books from the library, ask questions of dealers, know what you are shopping for and what it should be worth. Most dealers specialize and so should you, no one knows everything about everything. If you are buying the piece because you like it and not as an investment, the only criteria is how much you like it and how much you can afford.

27. WHAT KIND OF GLUE SHOULD I USE?
When it comes to doing repairs, it is very important to use the proper glue for the job. When it comes to re-gluing joints on furniture made prior to 1955, my favorite is Franklin brand liquid hide glue. It has very good tack and strength plus has a longer working time which comes in handy for re-gluing chairs.
Furniture made after 1955 to present day is constructed with PVA (Poly Vinyl Acetate). It is the pale yellow glue for woodworking or carpentry. If your project requires a long open time, this is not the glue of choice. You are better off with the hide glue.
For broken components that are hard to clamp and wont ever need to come back apart, I would recommend a five to thirty minute epoxy. I don't recommend using this glue for the joints unless you have a lot of play in them. It is the best gap filling glue out there.
For fixing hairline cracks that you can't get conventional glues into, You can use a thin or thick cyanoacrylate commonly known as super glue. It works even better if you use an accelerator to speed up the hardening process. You might want to shop at a model airplane store to find it. I don't recommend this glue in areas that need to be structurally significant. Remember to keep a bottle of fingernail polish remover on hand just incase you glue your fingers together or to the furniture.
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