How to Clean and Preserve Antique Furniture
From the very earliest times those who owned furniture were considered very wealthy.
During the middle ages it was important that furniture be transportable since, in order to keep order in their holdings kings and queens moved around the country and brought their entire households with them.
This notion of movable chests, beds and tables became important again during the various wars that were fought throughout time.
During the Napoleonic wars, clever furniture designers constructed pieces that could come apart, be stored in a chest, then be put up easily in their new location. These pieces eventually came to be known as "campaign" furniture and today are considered very collectible.As time passed more and more of the middle class was able to afford furniture for the home culminating with the Victorian era when furniture and accessories in the home left no inch unaccounted for.
The care of such objects was important given their value to the owners and the descendants who would presumably inherit them. Furniture was at first oiled ( with linseed oil which caused to wood to darken), or painted or simply waxed which gave the furniture a natural honey color. The fashion of the time dictated which surface treatment was preferable. Today, in spite of styles such as Shabby Chic and Country where painted wood is a hallmark, the love affair with "natural" wood is alive and well. Keeping it looking good given our busy lives is a challenge.
Caring for Your Furniture:
Goddard's Cabinetmaker's Wax
The only protection a piece of furniture really needs is a coat of wax. Oil does not "feed" the wood -At best it simply masks the scratches temporarily and at worst attracts dust which builds up to dull the surface of your prized wooden furniture. (See below for how to clean and wax furniture). This wax is made of carnauba and bees waxes which dry hard and can be buffed to give you the shine you want. Originally in a tin (as shown) this wax is now sold only in a new liquid form. It does not require the strong buffing required by the wax. Try it today!
Goddard's Cabinetmakers Liquid Spray Wax $16.95
Cleaning and Polishing Wood Furniture
Should I be cleaning my furniture? Why is it that I can’t seem to get rid of fingerprints on my table? Why is it that my pieces look so dull? My furniture is splitting or cracking - will oiling it help? Although a short article such as this one cannot hope to even address these issues separately, there are however certain things you can do that address many of the above problems quickly and relatively painlessly.
1. Remove the old wax.
Wax acts as a sealant, and if it is doing its job, no cleaner will penetrate it . There are proprietary wax cleaners and strippers available from your local hardware stores. If you are unable to access these products, paint thinner can be used.
In a well ventilated area, using a face mask and rubber gloves, pour a small amount of the cleaner in a glass or pottery bowl.
Dip 0000 Superfine steel wool into the mixture and apply to the surface in a gentle circular movement. You are not sanding the piece, but rather encouraging the wax to reconstitute itself into a liquid form so that it may be wiped off with a cloth. Do this until you are sure no wax remains on the surface.
You will notice a white oily substance on the wood. This is the residue from the cleaner and it must be washed off. Use a reasonably concentrated solution of liquid dish soap and water, and wash a small area at a time—do not allow it to soak into the wood for any length of time. If the water beads, it means there is still wax which needs to be removed. Repeat the first step. Wipe with clear water. Let dry completely.
Do not oil your furniture—it does not “feed” the wood, and will only succeed in attracting dirt.
From TImes Past
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