Finishing tips


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Finishing tips

  1. 1. Furniture finishing Finishing tipsTip #1Waxy build-upWhen most people think they have a wax build up, most likely the culprit is asoftened finish. Oil from your skin, food oils, and some detergents can breakdown a finish making it sticky, which in turn collects dirt and grime. If the problemlies on an area that is frequently touched. To clean it, try using mineral spirits ornaphtha as your cleaning agent. Using a soft rag or #0000 steel wool, this isgood for getting rid of a waxy build up. A word of caution though, if your finishhas softened all the way through to the wood, this process could leave you withbare wood. If your finish has gotten that bad to start with, there isnt anything elseyou can do to reverse it other than stripping and refinishing anyway.Tip #2Hiding Light ScratchesOne of the best ways I have found is using a padding lacquer. It really works wellon household woodwork as well as furniture when you get a light colored scratchin the finish. You will need a soft cloth. Fold the corners until you can make atight ball out of the center. Apply the padding lacquer to the pad and tap it intothe palm of your hand. (Gloves come in handy here). This will spread it throughthe pad. Lightly pad in the direction of the grain like it is an airplane coming in fora landing then taking off again. Dont over pad or come to a stopped landing. Letit dry for a couple minutes and reapply if needed until the scratch is melted backin. Usually one swipe is all it takes. This will leave a high gloss finish if you keeppadding, so you may have to pad the whole surface to make it all look the same.Another way of removing light scratches is rubbing the out with polishingcompounds. These are best used on high gloss sheens.If your table has a satin or dull sheen, grab a pad of OOOO Steel wool andsome lemon oil or wool lube . Put some on the pad and rub the spot moving inthe direction of the grain. This only works on minor scratches, and you may needto rub the rest of the surface so the sheen is even. Make sure you go with thegrain in long even strokes from one end to the other. To finish the task, simplywipe off the remaining oil and apply your favorite polish.If you need to add color to the scratch, Touch up markers and fill sticks come inreal Wisdom Management Services (M) Sdn. Bhd. 1
  2. 2. Furniture finishing Finishing tipsTip #3Painting over an existing finishTo paint over an existing finish, there are a few things to consider. One is theoverall condition of the original finish. Most factory finishes are done in lacquerand older finishes tend to lose their plasticity and get hairline cracks runningthrough it. If this has happened to your piece or you have bare or worn spots, itmay be worthwhile to go ahead and strip the old finish off. Otherwise the crackswill show up in the finished project.If your finish looks sound, Where you need to start is by removing all thehardware. Any parts that also come off, may make the job easier.Grab some naphtha or mineral spirits and some clean cloth rags, and wipe thewhole piece down once or twice. This will remove any furniture polish or body oilsthat may still be present. If there is any organic matter left on it, you may have touse 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 somesanding with 400 grit wet or dry sandpaper. sand it until you have removed alltraces of the original sheen. To get into some nooks and crevasses, a generalpurpose Maroon scotch-brite pad works well. Once you are done with thesanding, 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 dryfor at least 30 minutes prior to applying your first coat of paint. Make sure youdoing it in a dry dust free environment if you can. A tack rag is a veryimportant finishing tool. Oil based finishes are going to be the most compatible tothe lacquer, and hold up the best. They do require a paint thinner for cleanupinstead of water. Make sure you follow the instructions on the can.Tip #4White spots from water.This is the question I get asked the most. How do I remove the white rings andspots on my furniture. Given enough time, water can cause as much damage towood as can fire. The first step in removing a fresh white spot or ring is simply todo nothing except remove the source of the moisture and any remaining on thewoods surface. Then wait.(Do not apply any furniture polish)What the white ring consists of is water vapor trapped on the surface of thefinish. In some instances, fresh white rings will disappear if given the time to Wisdom Management Services (M) Sdn. Bhd. 2
  3. 3. Furniture finishing Finishing tipsabsorbed by dry air. High humidity will slow this process. A hair dryer will speedup the process, but set it on low and use discretion. Do not, however, presumethat if a little heat is good, more heat is better-and reach for the heat gun. Thewhite ring may disappear, but only because you melted the finish around it .If the white ring refuses to leave on its own, then you must try the following threesuggestions.If your table has a satin or dull sheen, grab a pad of OOOO Steel wool andsome lemon oil or wool lube . Put some on the pad and rub the spot moving inthe direction of the grain. Once the spot is gone, you may need to rub the rest ofthe table top so the sheen is even. Make sure you go with the grain in long evenstrokes from one end to the other. To finish the task, simply wipe off theremaining oil and apply your favorite polish.If you have a glossy sheen, You may try using a little bit of white tooth paste on adry cotton towel. If this leaves a glossier spot than the rest of the table, then youwill need to get some rubbing compounds and polishes like you would use on acars finish. If a mirror finish is not what you want, you can always adjust it downwith the OOOO steel wool. Dont forget to use your favorite polish when yourdone.Another simple remedy that sometimes works, is to spread some Vaseline onthe damage and wipe it off after the spot is gone.If none of these has worked, then the moisture has penetrated through the finishand is not repairable without refinishing.Tip #5Do it yourself DontsIf you are trying to repair furniture yourself, do not use any nails, screws, air nailguns, 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. Donot use any glue other than yellow or white Carpenters Glue or Hide Glue.Tip #6Humidity thoughtsBe aware of humidity when doing your own finish work. High humidity in the airwill keep finish from drying or will make it "blush" (turn white and dull). If you Wisdom Management Services (M) Sdn. Bhd. 3
  4. 4. Furniture finishing Finishing tipshaving a professional do your finish work, please allow several extra days foryour piece to dry completely before using it.Tip #7Is it really solid wood?Be cautious when buying furniture. Just because someone says it is "solid wood"doesnt mean it is good. Particle board and MDF (Medium Density Fiberboard)are still "wood" but they arent what you think. They are very hard to repair andmuch heavier than "real" wood. They will NOT last if under heavy use. Alwaysask, "Solid what wood?" Furniture marked Solid Oak or Cherry or Ash is a betterbet.Tip #8Potpourri KillsBelieve it or not, potpourri (just about any kind) will eat the finish off of furnitureeven if its still in a plastic bag! Dont ever put it directly on any finished piece,even if in a cloth or plastic bag.Tip #9Buying chairsWhen 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 staytogether on their own. It might also mean that significant modifications have beenmade to the chair in the past that may cause future problems. A professionalrestoration/repair shop should NEVER add screws or nails wherenone were present before.Tip #10Removing colorStripping furniture does not necessarily remove the color from the wood. It maynot be possible to lighten the piece to the desired color if it is stained dark. As ageneral rule, you can always go darker, but you cant always lighten it later. Justto be safe, before staining a light wood, make sure that you are comfortable withit being dark forever. if your furniture has been stained with an aniline dye, Wisdom Management Services (M) Sdn. Bhd. 4
  5. 5. Furniture finishing Finishing tipscan use some Stain-away to bleach it out. Make sure you do it out doors with arespirator.Tip #11Plasticizer migrationDo not keep anything made of plastic or vinyl in contact of the finish whichincludes table cloths and place mats. The Plasticizer will leach out andpermanently soften the finish.Tip #12Squeaky bed framesIf you have metal bed frames and they squeak, simply apply some oil to therivets to quiet them down. If your bed is made of wood and it squeaks, it mostlikely is getting loose and needs to be re-glued.Tip #13Sticky drawersAny time you have wood moving against wood, you will need something to keepthe parts lubricated. If you have drawers that like to stick, try rubbing some clearBriwax or any other brand of paste wax on both the drawer and the wood it ridesupon. It is sometimes shocking what a difference it can make. If it doesnt help,most likely the drawer will need some repair or is worn down.Tip #14Removing dark stains from wood To remove darks rings, stains or gray oxidation, you will need to use some oxalicacid crystals . It is the main ingredient in the so called deck brighteners. To usethem, you have to mix them with warm water until you reach a saturated solutionmeaning it wont dissolve anymore. Only mix the amount you need. You will needto apply it with a synthetic brush giving the entire surface a good wet coat (notjust the stain) . The wood will need to be bare and lightly sanded prior to thisstep. Make sure you apply it to the whole surface and not just the spot. Leave Wisdom Management Services (M) Sdn. Bhd. 5
  6. 6. Furniture finishing Finishing tipsacid on until it dries or until the stain has vanished. Follow that with a couplewashes of water to removed the residue. The grain will be raised after it dries, soyou will need to sand it smooth before finishing. Make sure you use a particlemask when sanding because what crystals are left over will make you sneeze ifyou inhale them. Do it outdoors if possible.Tip #15Removing nail polish from a finishThis can be a tricky one even for a professional. The only thing you can try issome 600 grit wet or dry sandpaper and a hard flat sanding block. Make sure youhold the block level while sanding the glue down flush. You will get into thesurrounding finish, so try to keep it to a minimum. If the polish is pretty thick, youmight 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 1200grit paper.To get the shine back on a high gloss finish, it will take some rubbing compoundsand polishes on a cotton rag and some elbow grease Make sure you polish theentire 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 andsome lemon oil or wool lube . Put some on the pad and rub the spot moving inthe direction of the grain. Once the spot is gone, you may need to rub the rest ofthe table top so the sheen is even. Make sure you go with the grain in long evenstrokes from one end to the other. To finish the task, simply wipe off theremaining oil and apply your favorite polish.Tip #16Removing that musty odorTo 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 microbialspray. Open the cabinet and take out all of the drawers and spray the entireinside 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 hasnt done the job,you will need to go to the next step of sealing the raw wood with any type offinish which will seal in the odor. You could also purchase a small electric ozonegenerator to eat up the odor causing Wisdom Management Services (M) Sdn. Bhd. 6
  7. 7. Furniture finishing Finishing tipsA new approach might be using one of the new products for removing odors fromfabrics like Fabreeze. Although I would still suggest killing the mold spores first. Ihave had a customer who had success with putting an open can of ground coffeeinside to absorb the odor.Tip #17Handling and Moving FurnitureIn addition to using furniture wisely, it is important to handle it carefully. Safehandling and moving of furniture begin with a basic understanding of how a pieceis constructed. The second step is to plan carefully.General ConcernsBefore picking up a piece of furniture, determine how it is put together and if anyof its parts are removable or detachable. Make sure you know where the furnitureis its strongest - generally along a major horizontal element - and try to carry itfrom these points.Then examine the room and the route whereby the furniture is to be moved. Lookaround to make sure you know where everything is. Identify potential trouble.Light fixtures that hang low, for examples, or that extend out from the wall maybe damaged or cause damage. Glass table tops are also easily damaged ifbumped. If necessary, clear the way by moving or removing fragile or obstructiveitems. Protect the furniture to be moved with soft padding or wrap it in a blanketpad. Padding, which will provide extra insurance against bumping and gouging,is especially important if an item is going into storage.Before moving an item, make sure you know exactly where it goes next. Planahead to adjust the temperature and relative humidity in the new location so theyare the same as where the furniture presently is. Extreme changes intemperature and humidity can cause splitting of joints and veneers.Never hurry when you are moving furniture. Scratches, dents, and gouges frombumps against hand truck, doorways, and other furniture are always more likelyin haste. Each item needs to be approached individually, without haste, and withsufficient manpower present.Make sure you have a firm grip on the piece with both hands. Do not wear cottongloves. It is essential that hands not slip from a piece of furniture while it is beingmoved.Never slide or drag furniture along the floor. The vibration can loosen or breakjoints, chip feet, break legs, etc., to say nothing of what dragging does to Wisdom Management Services (M) Sdn. Bhd. 7
  8. 8. Furniture finishing Finishing tipscarpeting or finish on the floor. Whenever possible, use trolleys or dollies fortransporting heavy pieces.Handling valuable furnishings requires a special attitude: in general, movementshould be carried out at a slower pace. Here are some quick tips for movingfurniture properly. Remember: If you dont break it, it doesnt have to be fixed! Just as gymnasts work with "spotters" to catch them when they misstep, have helpers on hand to guide the movers so they dont crash into walls or other pieces of furniture Anticipate trouble; think through every step; plan ahead; and do everything with care Make sure the route is clear and has no obstructions, such as narrow doorways or hanging chandeliers that might hinder the safe passage of furniture and moversThe following sections offer suggestions for moving specific types of furniture.Seating FurnitureWhen lifting a chair, remember that the seat rail is its strongest part, not the chairback. Frequently lifting by the back, especially the crest rail, will eventually resultin breakage. For small chairs, lift by the side seat rails, one hand near the fronton one side, the other near the rear on the other side.When lifting a large chair or sofa, the principles are the same. Grab underneaththe side frame, making sure to lift with your legs rather than your back. Forupholstered chairs or sofas, place your hands underneath the frame to avoidtouching the upholstery. If upholstery must be touched, use cotton gloves. Forchairs with slip seats, remove the slip seat and wrap and move it separately toprevent its being soiled or falling out during the move.TablesThe strongest part of a table is generally the apron. Whenever possible, lift thetable carefully from the apron, never by the top or legs. Lifting on the top ratherthan the apron may break the glue-blocks that hold the top to the frame or stripout the screws that hold the top on. Grabbing the legs, particularly tables withlong, unsupported legs, will cause unnecessary stress on the leg and the jointconnecting it to the apron. Whenever possible, wrap padding around a tableslegs before moving it to prevent chipping or breakage during the move.If you are moving a drop-leaf table, first determine which support members move.Is the table leaf supported by a bracket or by a swing-leg? Fold the leaves down,and restrain them with padding and a tie band. If the support is provided by aswing-leg or gate-leg, tie it in place as well. The only safe place to grab a Wisdom Management Services (M) Sdn. Bhd. 8
  9. 9. Furniture finishing Finishing tipsleaf table is underneath the end aprons. Grabbing by the legs, especially swing-legs, will increase the chance of damage to them, and grabbing the table by theside leaves will often result in fracturing the long rule joint that allows the leavesto drop.Case FurnitureWhile case pieces, especially large ones, may appear very different from tablesand chairs, the same rules apply. Never try to move a large piece by yourself. Acase piece requires at least two people. While a case piece requires can bemoved by carrying it carefully, holding on to the bottom as you would a table orchair, it is better to move the piece on a dolly. A dolly makes the move safer forboth the movers and the object, and that is all the more true for large objects.First, examine the piece. How was is put together? And how can it come apart?Take the piece apart as much as is possible. That is, remove the top piece of acabinet from its base; remove the cornice or pediment, if there is one.If the carcass is sturdy enough, remove an drawers to lighten the load and makethe move easier. Carry the drawers separately to the destination. However, if thecarcass is weak and shifts from side-to-side, leave the drawers in place toprovide stability and prevent further damage to the joints. Tall pieces that do notcome apart into separate sections need to be set on their sides on a dolly toprevent their topping over.If the piece has handles, wrap them with padding. Padding protects the handles,the furniture surface (if the handles have swinging bales or drops), the movers,and the surroundings in case you bump up against anything.Never grab a heavy piece like a chest of drawers or bookcase by the cornice atthe top. The attachment of the top to the base may be loosened and pull apartfrom the rest of the piece.Lift the piece straight up, using your legs, not your back. Dont let it tilt, and do notgrab it by its hardware or any other protrusions.Large ClocksThe moving project becomes increasingly difficult with objects that are large andcomplex. Objects that come apart into many pieces or are unwieldy require extracare and preparation. Because of their many parts grandfather and grandmotherclocks are very difficult to move.Always remove the pendulum and weights from within the clock before doinganything else. These pieces are heavy and will damage the clock case if theysmash into the side of the case. They may also cause damage to the Wisdom Management Services (M) Sdn. Bhd. 9
  10. 10. Furniture finishing Finishing tipsitself. Wear cotton gloves when you remove the pendulum and weights, to avoidcorroding the metal pieces from skin contact.Remove the hood from the top of the clock (they often slide forward), and lay itdown to pack and move separately. Make sure the door to the case is locked orsecurely closed before moving the clock. Use bare hands, not gloves, for movingand packing the carcass of the case. For short moves, like those of only a fewfeet, it is permissible to lift by grabbing the narrow case from the underside of themolding at the top of the waist, or center portion of the case, provided that themolding is firmly attached to the case itself. For longer moves, or if that moldingis not secure, the clock case should be carried flat like a coffin.Tip #18Furniture MaintenanceThe guidelines for furniture maintenance are pretty simple. If the furniture is usedwisely and handled carefully, it will need very little in the way of routinemaintenance. But in cleaning and polishing furniture surfaces and hardware, andin re-upholstering, some well-intentioned caretakers introduce damage. In fact, alot of what furniture conservators do is respond to destructive maintenancepractices.Cleaning SurfacesFor the most part, maintaining furniture simply means keeping it clean, carefully.Wood furniture usually needs to be cleaned only when there is a buildup of waxor dirt. Only unfinished wood, painted wood, or wood with a sturdy finish shouldbe cleaned. The finish on giltwood is often applied with a water-soluble size, oradhesive; it should be carefully dusted, not cleaned, or cleaned only by aprofessional.Before cleaning wood or coatings, the first and most important step is to evaluatethe surface and make sure that the surface or coating is stable and not apt to bedamaged by the contact required in cleaning and polishing. If the surface isunstable, the polishing could knock off loose portions. Damaged surfaces shouldbe referred to a conservator.After the soundness of the surface has been established, the next step is to findout what the dirt is and what the surface is. If you cant determine these exactly,find out what removes the dirt without affecting the surface underneath it. Often,dust can be removed with the careful wipe of a damp cloth. Oily dirt or waxyresidue can be removed with a mild detergent and water solution or with mineralspirits. However, it is vital to make sure that the cleaning solution does not Wisdom Management Services (M) Sdn. Bhd. 10
  11. 11. Furniture finishing Finishing tipsthe underlying surface. Even when you determine a cleaning method that workssuccessfully, proceed cautiously.Loose dust on the surface can be removed with a soft, lint-free cloth, gentlyrubbed over the surface. Dust is an abrasive and can scratch the surface, so becareful. Uneven areas can be dusted with a clean, natural bristle paint or artistsbrush. Again, do not try to dust a surface that is severely deteriorated. Clothfibers can catch and tear away pieces of the finish, veneer or loose parts. Evenrough edges can splinter. Carving, fretwork, and other delicate work can bedusted with a soft bristle brush, with a vacuum cleaner host held close enough totake in the dust one it is dislodged by the brush. Do not use feather dusters, asthey can scratch and pull off loose fragments of veneer.Surfaces in good condition but with a heavy accumulation of dust can be cleanedvery carefully with a vacuum cleaner. Use the lowest suction available and theround brush attachment. Dont let the metal or hard plastic parts of the vacuumbump into the surfaces; they can scratch the finish or wood. Much damage, infact, occurs as the feet and bases of pieces are hit with the vacuum cleaner.Dirt that cannot be simply vacuumed off may be removed with cleaners mixed ina dilute solution, but only if the finish is in good solid condition. First, determinewhich solvent removes the dirt without removing the finish. Those to be testedinclude mineral spirits (white spirit), paint thinner, and naphtha. Second, test asmall spot in an obscure area with the solution on a cotton swab. All areas thatappear to be a different coating or material must be tested separately. Only if thesolution does not damage the test area should it be used to clean the rest of thepiece.For finished wood, dampen a cotton cloth with the solvent or cleaning solution,and gently rub over a small area at a time. Avoid using too much liquid, as theycan cause damage. Then, wipe the cleaned surface with a clean dampened clothto remove any cleanser residues, followed by a dry soft cloth.Following simple cleaning, further protection and aesthetic enhancement can beobtained through the application of a stable, hard furniture polish, such as a hardpaste wax. The hard wax surface can be dusted more easily because it will bemore smooth, and the dust will not be imbedded in it as it would in an unwaxedsurface. Waxing need only occur infrequently because the wax itself is not readilyremoved and it does not degrade chemically. Waxing too often can result in abuilt-up, clouded surface.This simple approach avoids the problems created by popular methods of"furniture polishing" - such as sprays and oily polishes - that may result incumulative damage to furniture. Many polishes and residues continue to be avexing problem for furniture conservators, as they can build up over time andwith numerous applications, trapping and adhering airborne dirt onto the Wisdom Management Services (M) Sdn. Bhd. 11
  12. 12. Furniture finishing Finishing tipsFor a more in-depth discussion of furniture polishes, refer to the appendix at theend of this text.Cleaning UpholsteryDusting upholstery can be accomplished by a vacuum cleaner. Place a softscreen on the surface to prevent any snagging or abrasion from the vacuum tip,and using a brush attachment, carefully vacuum the surface.Stains and other damage to upholstery should be referred to an upholstery ortextile conservator for further treatment.Metal HardwareOne never-ending concern of furniture caretakers is for the hardware, includinghandles, brackets, hinges and escutcheons attached, usually with nails, to theouter surface of a piece. The metal in hardware might be brass, silver, gold-plated bronze, depending upon the style, date and country of origin.Contemporary hardware attachments sometimes have a clear lacquer finish thatgives them a shiny appearance. Antique hardware is also sometimes coated byrestorers and conservators to eliminate the need for constant polishing. There iscurrently a lot of debate in the conservation field as to whether metal hardwareshould be lacquered or polished. Neither is an option is there is evidence of anoriginal varnish or if abrasive polishing would remove some other original surfacetreatment.Furniture hardware may become dirty and tarnished with use and exposure tothe atmosphere. In such cases, polishing it can be justified. However, even thisstep is sometimes a poorly informed one. One common example of the damageis created by polishing hardware supposed to be brass, when it is really gildedbronze that is simply dirty. Polishing removes the gold, damaging the surface of abeautiful sculptural element.If you choose to polish, remove the hardware from the piece, noting the exactlocation of each screw and nut. Polishing the hardware while on the piecedamages the surrounding finish and also allows polishes to run beneath thehardware that can further damage both the metal hardware and the finish.Clean hardware carefully with a 50/50 mix of acetone and alcohol to remove anydirt and oil residue, scrubbing the piece with a soft bristle brush. After drying, thesurface can be polished with a fine, lint-free cloth of felt block charged with a veryfine abrasive, such as calcium carbonate or jewelers micro polish, in an alcoholor mineral spirits slurry. Commercial polishes can contribute to the deteriorationof the hardware, as they frequently contain harsh cleaners that corrode Wisdom Management Services (M) Sdn. Bhd. 12
  13. 13. Furniture finishing Finishing tipsIf the hardware cannot be removed safely from the furniture it can be polishedand coated on the object provided the following precautions are scrupulouslyfollowed. First, the surface of the wood and varnish must be completelyprotected. Acetate sheets, such as those found in office supply stores, can benotched and slid under the hardware from both sides to form an overlappingbarrier. Without this precaution, attempts to polish the hardware will likely end indisaster.Since this hardware cannot be doused with the acetone and alcohol mixture,cleaning must be done by dipping swabs in the solution, then rubbing the metalsurface with the swab. Polishing must also be done more carefully, perhaps on asmaller scale.After polishing, remove all residues. The surface of the hardware that has beenremoved from the furniture can be easily coated with a transparent resin beforethe hardware is replaced on the piece. Particular care must be used in applyingany coating when the hardware cannot be removed, to make sure that noprotective varnish for the hardware gets on the furniture piece itself.Tip #19Furniture PolishesThere are several factors to weigh when deciding to use polishes and waxes onfurniture and other wooden objects. One critical factor is that the ingredients incommercial polishes and cleaning products are rarely disclosed. Moreover, theseingredients can be, and frequently are, changed without warning or notification.These ingredients may be harmless or harmful to the furniture (and to you) andyou have no way of knowing in advance.Polishing products are available in three forms: aerosol (spray); liquid; andsemisolid. Here is a quick look at their benefits and drawbacks.Aerosols (Spray Polishes)Aerosols are convenient. However, they have been among the worst offenders inintroducing silicone oils and other contaminants onto furniture. In addition, theymay contain solvents that attack varnishes and lacquers. While some of the"dusting" aerosols appear to be benign when applied to a cloth and not the pieceof furniture, the result is similar to using a damp, clean dust Wisdom Management Services (M) Sdn. Bhd. 13
  14. 14. Furniture finishing Finishing tipsLike aerosols, liquid polishes are easy to use. There are two primary forms ofcommercial liquid products for "furniture care": emulsion cleaner or polishes and"oil type" polishes. Emulsion polishes are waxes, oils, detergents, organicsolvents, and other materials suspended in water for ease of application. Theseproducts can be extremely powerful cleaners that leave a desirable sheen on thesurface. However, the visual effect usually diminishes as the liquid dries.Moreover, like aerosols, emulsion polishes can introduce contaminants onto thefurniture, but because they are liquids they place much more volume than sprayson the furniture surface.Oil polishes are even more troublesome. Much like emulsion polishes, oilpolishes can be a complex blend of ingredients including oils, waxes, perfumes,colorants, "cleaners," and organic solvents. They can render extremely pleasingsurfaces and are used frequently as final finishes by themselves. However, oilsused as polishes or cleaners can be very damaging.Nondrying oils (paraffin, mineral, and "lemon oil," which is usually mineral oil withcolorants and perfumes added) tend to be more benign than drying oils, but evenso some oil remains as a liquid on (or in) the object. Dust and other airbornecontaminants readily stick to wet surfaces, especially oils. But nondrying oilsdont undergo chemical reactions or directly damage the furniture.Drying oils, on the other hand, such as linseed, tung, or walnut oil, are a differentmatter altogether. These materials solidify, or "dry" through a chemical reactionwith the air called oxidation. Over time this reaction makes them increasinglydifficult to remove. Their permanence is fine if the oil is employed as the finish,but not good if it is used as a maintenance polish. By itself, having a polish that isdifficult to remove would be an irritating but not an insurmountable problem.Unfortunately, as drying oils age they tend to yellow and in the presence of acidsthey are chromogenic (become Colored), turning a dark, muddy brown or opaqueblack.Traditionally, cleaning and polishing concoctions comprised of linseed oil,turpentine, beeswax, and vinegar (acetic acid) were widely used even in themuseum field until recently. They turned out to be a disaster waiting to happen.The results of their use are readily apparent to even the casual observer: a thickincrustation of chocolate-colored goo that is neither hard enough to be durablenor soft enough to wipe off easily. The furniture is left with an unsightly coatingthat is very difficult to remove without damaging the underlying surface.SemisolidsBy virtually any measure semisolid polishes are the least damaging to woodenobjects. Frequently called "paste waxes," these products are actually a veryconcentrated solution of waxes. Provided the ingredients do not includeundesirable contaminants like silicone or high concentrations of Wisdom Management Services (M) Sdn. Bhd. 14
  15. 15. Furniture finishing Finishing tipsorganic solvents such as alcohol, xylene, or toluene, paste waxes are anexcellent polish for the surfaces of most wooden objets. Because waxes areexceedingly stable and dont cause many of the problems inherent in thepreviously mentioned polishes, they are the material of choice for furnitureconservators and other caretakers of furniture and wooden objects. But pastewaxes have their faults too: unfortunately, they require the most active contactwith the surface of the furniture, and also need the most physical labor for properapplication. Buffing out a wax polish can be very hard work, and in general, thebetter quality the wax, the harder the buffing that is needed. However, the resultsand benefits to the furniture are worth the extra effort.Fortunately, as the most durable and stable polishing material, paste wax needsto be applied much less often than aerosols or liquids. Ideally, wax polishingshould be conducted no more than twice a year for areas of extremely heavywear (desktops, chair arms, etc.) and once every three or four years for table andchair legs, cabinets, and similar areas.If a surface can no longer be buffed to the sheen appropriate for a waxedsurface, it is likely that the wax has worn off. In that case, apply another light coatof wax to the affected area in accordance with the product instructions. Wax thatis applied too frequently or improperly can build-up and cause an unsightlysurface. When the wax is used correctly, however, the solvent content of the newwax will "clean off" any previous wax remaining on the surface and will simplyintegrate the old into the new.Tip #20Is it oil Based or latex/acrylic paintTodetermine what type of paint is on your furniture, brush some stripper on aninconspicuous spot and see what happens. If it is oil based, the paint will wrinkleand bubble. If it just softens up into a slimy goo, it is latex or acrylic. Oil basedpaint is the easiest to remove.Tip #21Purchasing a New Mattress When shopping for a mattress wear shoes you can get in and out of easily. Test the mattress by laying full-length out on the bed. Try it out like youre going to use it, and spend some time on it to see how it really feels. If you feel silly, just think how silly youre going to feel when you dont sleep Wisdom Management Services (M) Sdn. Bhd. 15
  16. 16. Furniture finishing Finishing tips after spending all that money! Note the gauge of the wire as well as the coil count. The smaller the #, the heavier the wire is. Always buy box springs at the same time. They are made to be a set. Use a heavy-duty bed frame with good center support. Stick with a name brand. Dont assume that a higher price means a better mattress. Stay away from department stores - theyre always higher and sometimes the name-brand companies make mattresses to fit the stores specifications. You might not be getting the mattress you think you are. Look for a mattress warehouse or factory. Remember that all "pillow top" mattresses will get body impressions (except latex toppers.) Make sure your mattress has a non pro rata warranty of 10 years. Shop around, compare delivery prices, and find out if the company will remove your old mattress for you. Buy a mattress with a minimum of 312 coils (fine for children), with 540 being the absolute best. Full-size should have at least 300, queen-size at least 375 and king-size at least 450. Check factory specifications closely. For the bed to be right, it should yield enough for you to sink slightly, but not too much, into the bed. LIE DOWN on the mattress, preferably with your sleeping partner, before you buy. Youre not going to be bouncing up and down on the edge of the mattress with you get home! For a dry bed, choose a mattress with comfort layers made of latex and insulating pat made of coconut fiber. Stay away from wool because wool can grow mold when damp that could trigger asthma problems. A mattress should be an innerspring at least nine inches thick. Dont buy budget when youre buying a mattress. A good mattress will last you 10 to 15 years and will end up costing only pennies a night even at the high-end prices. Shop smart, but dont scrimp.Mattress Terms Foundation - absorbs the shock of daily wear and provides support and durability. Core - provides support for the body and can be spring, air, foam or water. Upholstery - Adds comfort and cushioning. Coil Count - the number of coils in the mattress. High coil count gives better contouring while lower coil count if firmer. Contour - how the mattress coils conform to the body for comfort. Box Spring - supports and cushions the mattress. Innerspring - the inner support of the mattress composed of hundreds of wire coils held together by wire or cloth. Wire gauge - thickness of the wire coils. The thicker the wire, the less flexible the Wisdom Management Services (M) Sdn. Bhd. 16
  17. 17. Furniture finishing Finishing tips Comfort level - can vary from manufacturer to manufacturer with Plush being soft and fluffy, Firm being standard cushioning and Pillowtop being a mattress with extra layers of cushioning. Non pro-rated warranty - a manufacturers warranty against defects. Pro-rated warranty - offers less coverage based on the number of years in the warranty.Tip #22About Leather FurnitureIt used to be that only the upper crust could afford to own real leather furniture;the rest of us had to make do with synthetic substitutes. But in recent years,prices have started to come down as leather has become more popular.Manufacturers are offering a greater choice in styles, making it possible to findleather to suit almost every taste and budget. Before you invest in this practical,versatile furniture, saddle up with some savvy buying tips.gradeGrade is the most important feature of leathers quality--and an indicator ofdurability and price. Manufacturers and showrooms use similar vocabulary todescribe grade, which makes the buyers job easier. Top grain indicates leathertaken from the desirable outer surface of the hide. Leathers taken from the lowersurfaces are split grains, and are much weaker. All but the least expensivefurniture should be made from top grains.Top-grain leathers are graded based on the ways manufacturers prepare theleather.Aniline (or "pure" or "full" aniline) leather is soaked in aniline dye, but does nothave other finishes or pigments applied. Only the best hides are used for thissuperbly soft leather. Semi-aniline (or "protected" aniline) leathers have a smallamount of coating or pigment, giving them slightly better protection against stainsand fading. Pigmented leathers are fully treated with surface color. Made fromlesser-grade hides, they are stiffer than anilines, but also more stain- and scuff-resistant, and more affordable.finishLeathers are graded by how much manufacturers have to do to get them readyfor market. Nearly perfect, mark-free hides are rare and, therefore, highly prized.Most anilines will have visible markings, such as wrinkles and scars, Wisdom Management Services (M) Sdn. Bhd. 17
  18. 18. Furniture finishing Finishing tipscontribute to their natural beauty. Like a well-worn wallet or bomber jacket, theydevelop a lustrous patina with age and use.Keep in mind that added finishes and surface pigments arent necessarily bad. Infact, if you prefer more consistent color in your furniture, untreated anilines maynot be for you. Finishes and pigments also provide greater protection fromscratches, stains, and sun fading. The "best" leather, in other words, is by nomeans always the best choice for your family or situation.textureThe texture of leather furniture, like its appearance, is partly a function of itsgrade. The highest quality hides become the softest and most supple leathers.(In industry-speak, they have a more luxurious "hand," or feel.) Pigmentedleathers and "corrected grain" leathers (those that have been buffed to removeobvious surface imperfections) have a stiffer hand. Beyond these differences, thefollowing texturing techniques can give leather its distinctive appearance andfeel:Nubuck leathers are lightly brushed or abraded, resulting in a short nap with aplush softness. Nubucks are top-grain leathers, so they last longer than do theircousins, suedes. Nubucks also have the advantage of being treated with aprotectant that makes them more stain-resistant than other anilines. Suedesapproximate the look and feel of nubucks but are made from less-durable splitgrains.Sauvage is a two-toned effect that lends depth to leather, producing a marbled orcreased appearance.Pull-up leathers are full anilines that have an oil or wax application. When theleather is pulled, or stretched, the oil or wax separates, producing a lighter burstof color. The pull-up technique is used for distressed or weathered looks.Embossed leathers are corrected grains that have a new pattern or grainimprinted on them with high heat or pressure, resulting in anything from alligatorto floral effects.costGrade will largely determine how much you pay for leather furniture. A sofa madefrom top-grain leather will range from $700 (a good sale on corrected-grain,pigmented leather) to $6,000 or more for designer names and pure anilineleather.Leather may take slightly more care and upkeep than fabric upholstery. But in thelong run, its worth the trouble. Here are tips for preventive Wisdom Management Services (M) Sdn. Bhd. 18
  19. 19. Furniture finishing Finishing tips* Keep leather furniture away from heat sources, which will eventually dry theleather out.* Place furniture out of direct sunlight, which causes leather to fade.* Vacuum leather regularly to remove dust.* Blot any spills immediately with a dry cloth, and let air dry.* Regularly use the recommended cleaners or creams to improve leathersresistance to staining and to keep it soft and supple.careLeather-care products are available from furniture manufacturers and stores;salespeople can recommend products for the furniture you select. Many retailersalso offer leather warranties. For a moderate price (about $100 for a seven-yearwarranty on a sofa, half that for a chair), your leather will be repaired or replacedif it cracks, stains, or tears, ensuring that you will enjoy it for years to come.Tip #23Glass Table TopsGlass tops can protect your wooden tables, but dont let moisture get trappedbetween glass and wood. Create an airspace by elevating the glass top on clearbutyl rubber bumpers available at most glass shops and let your wooden tabletops breathe.Tip #24Wood Screw LubricationWood screws go in a lot easier when you scrape the threads across some candleor bees wax or a bar of soap first.Tip #25Removing Candle wax from a table Wisdom Management Services (M) Sdn. Bhd. 19
  20. 20. Furniture finishing Finishing tipsIf some melted wax gets on your table top, hopefully it hasnt hurt the finish.Since you just cant wipe it off with a damp cloth, you have to scrape it off. Yes itsounds scary, but it isnt really. The scraping tool of choice would be an ordinarycredit card. You shouldnt try to scrape it all off at once, but by taking it off in thinlayers, it will eventually come off. Since the card is softer than the finish, (WeHope), is doesnt scratch the surface. Once you get as much off as you can, youcan 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 somerubbing techniques.If your table has a satin or dull sheen, grab a pad of OOOO Steel wool andsome lemon oil or wool lube . Put some on the pad and rub the spot moving inthe direction of the grain. Once the spot is gone, you may need to rub the rest ofthe table top so the sheen is even. Make sure you go with the grain in long evenstrokes from one end to the other. To finish the task, simply wipe off theremaining oil and apply your favorite polish.If you have a glossy sheen, You may try using a little bit of white tooth paste on adry cotton towel. If this leaves a glossier spot than the rest of the table, then youwill need to get some rubbing compounds and polishes like you would use on acars finish. If a mirror finish is not what you want, you can always adjust it downwith the OOOO steel wool. Dont forget to use your favorite polish when yourdone.Tip #26Removing oil from a wood surface.The only way to pull grease and oil out of wood is with a poultice. Go to yourswimming pool place and get a bag of diatomite or commonly known asdiatomaceous earth. Grab a couple of gallons of acetone also from hardware orpaint 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 intothe DE .Once it is dry, scrape it off into the trash and repeat if necessary. Mostlikely it will take at least three applications. You might try putting a heat sourcedirectly under the slab at the same time which will drive more oil to the surface.You will need to do it in outdoors because of the intensely flammable and highlysmelly Wisdom Management Services (M) Sdn. Bhd. 20
  21. 21. Furniture finishing Finishing tipsTip #27What kind of finish is it?To determine what type of finish you are dealing with, You will need to do asolvent test. Put some acetone or fingernail polish remover on a finger and rub itin an inconspicuous spot to see if the finish starts to soften. If it does, you aredealing with nitrocellulose lacquer which is predominantly used in the furnitureindustry. If it doesnt soften, try some denatured alcohol the same way. If itsoftens with alcohol, you have a shellac finish. If neither one seems to soften thefinish, you are either dealing with varnish, polyurethane, catalyzed lacquer,conversion varnish or polyester which are all non-reactive finishes that cant bere-dissolved by their original solventTip #28Gluing Down Loose VeneerIf the top is removed, it will be easier to do the clamping during the glue job. Usesome liquid hide glue made by the Franklin company since it will bond well withthe old hide glue. Try to work some of the glue underneath the loose stuffkeeping in mind the there are most likely two layers of veneer. The top layer andthe substrate layer which has the wood grain running in the opposite directionthan the top layer. You may have to feed glue between all the layers. A long thinbladed spatula is what I use.Once you have sufficient glue to all recesses, you need to squeeze out all of theexcess glue with a veneer hammer, J-roller, or wall paper roller. Keep a damprag handy to catch the drips.To clamp it, you will need a flat block of wood that is at least the same size as theloose portion, some C type clamps, and some wax paper to put under the clampblock to keep it from sticking once the glue dries. If you are gluing a descent sizearea, you will want to start the clamping from the inside working your way to theoutside. This will help squeeze out more extra glue that isnt needed, so keep yourag handy again. What you dont want is a pocket of extra dried glue under thesurface resembling a bubble on the finished product. If you are gluing in a loosepiece or patch, I have found it helpful to use a piece of thick clear lexan as theglue block. This allows me to see through it to make sure the piece hasnt slid onme while clamping. The hide glue doesnt stick to the lexan, so no wax paper isneeded.After drying overnight, you can remove the clamps and block. If the block isstuck, tap the side of it with a hammer like you are spinning it. Lifting it off Wisdom Management Services (M) Sdn. Bhd. 21
  22. 22. Furniture finishing Finishing tipstake the veneer with it. If you have a finished surface with glue residue on it, awarm wet rag will dissolve the hide glue.Tip #29Buying upholstered sofas, love seats, and chairsWhen buying upholstered chairs, love seats, and sofas, there are a few things toconsider.There are two types of frames, the cheaper plywood frame and the betterhardwood frame. The cheaper frame is more prone to loosing a spring ifsomeone sits down to hard or you have kids that like to jump. If that happens,fixing it could cost you. The hardwood frame wont do you any good unless it isput together with dowel joints.Stay away from upholstered recliners that have the foot rest that pops out. I haveyet to see one that is worth buying. Even worse is the sofa with the recliner builtinto it.As for the fabrics, the cottons wont last near as long as the synthetics. A goodheavy 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.Tip #30Removing super glue from a finish.This can be a tricky one even for a professional. The only thing you can try issome 600 grit wet or dry sandpaper and a hard flat sanding block. Make sure youhold the block level while sanding the glue down flush. You will get into thesurrounding finish, so try to keep it to a minimum. If the glue is pretty thick, youmight 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 1200grit paper.To get the shine back on a high gloss finish, it will take some rubbing compoundsand polishes on a cotton rag and some elbow grease. Apply your favorite polishto finish it Wisdom Management Services (M) Sdn. Bhd. 22
  23. 23. Furniture finishing Finishing tipsIf your table has a satin or dull sheen, grab a pad of OOOO Steel wool andsome lemon oil or wool lube . Put some on the pad and rub the spot moving inthe direction of the grain. Once the spot is gone, you may need to rub the rest ofthe table top so the sheen is even. Make sure you go with the grain in long evenstrokes from one end to the other. To finish the task, simply wipe off theremaining oil and apply your favorite polish.Tip #31Buying antiquesYour best defense when buying antiques as an investment is simply to be wellinformed. Read books from the library, ask questions of dealers, know what youare shopping for and what it should be worth. Most dealers specialize and soshould you, no one knows everything about everything. If you are buying thepiece because you like it and not as an investment, the only criteria is how muchyou like it and how much you can afford.Tip #32What kind of glue should I use? When it comes to doing repairs, it is very important to use the proper glue for thejob. When it comes to re-gluing joints on furniture made prior to 1955, my favoriteis Franklin brand liquid hide glue. It has very good tack and strength plus has alonger working time which comes in handy for re-gluing chairs. Furniture made after 1955 to present day is constructed with PVA (Poly VinylAcetate). It is the pale yellow glue for woodworking or carpentry. If your projectrequires a long open time, this is not the glue of choice. You are better off withthe hide glue.For broken components that are hard to clamp and wont ever need to come backapart, I would recommend a five to thirty minute epoxy. I dont recommend usingthis glue for the joints unless you have a lot of play in them. It is the best gapfilling glue out there.For fixing hairline cracks that you cant get conventional glues into, You can usea thin or thick cyanoacrylate commonly known as super glue. It works evenbetter if you use an accelerator to speed up the hardening process. You Wisdom Management Services (M) Sdn. Bhd. 23
  24. 24. Furniture finishing Finishing tipswant to shop at a model airplane store to find it. I dont recommend this glue inareas that need to be structurally significant. Remember to keep a bottle offingernail polish remover on hand just incase you glue your fingers together or tothe Wisdom Management Services (M) Sdn. Bhd. 24
  25. 25. Furniture finishing Finishing tipswant to shop at a model airplane store to find it. I dont recommend this glue inareas that need to be structurally significant. Remember to keep a bottle offingernail polish remover on hand just incase you glue your fingers together or tothe Wisdom Management Services (M) Sdn. Bhd. 24