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Care for your solid wood furniture

CH24 Wishbone chair

Before you begin the cleaning and revitalization of your fine furniture it is important to protect the floors and adjacent areas. It is a good idea to spread a tarp or plastic sheet under the piece of furniture. A few minutes spent preparing the work area and protecting nearby furnishings is time well spent.
Adequate ventilation is also very important. Generally, the citrus-based cleaners that we favor don't have an unpleasant odor but they often do contain some mineral spirits and should be handled with proper care. Keep away from open flames or other heat sources. Likewise for Danish Oil and paste varnishes. See the safety information regarding these materials
A well lit work area is the key to obtaining superior results. It's best if you can work at a brighter light level than will be the ambient level of the room. This way, the surface condition can be viewed more critically than it will appear in everyday use. Working in front of a bright window is ideal since this allows the surface to be examined in an oblique light.
It is advisable to use rubber gloves to protect the hands from the Danish oil and paste varnish. These materials become sticky as they cure and it's easier to keep them off the skin in the first place than to remove them later using mineral spirits.
And, of course, one should be wearing work clothes and shoes that won't be ruined by drips of oil or varnish.

CH07 chair

The first step in revitalizing your furniture is cleaning the dirt from the surface. A very effective product for this is a citrus-based solvent. Our favorite is Touch of Oranges for Wood Care. The active ingredient is d-limonene. Be cautioned that there are many cleaners on the market that are promoted as "orange" cleaners that do not contain d-limonene. Although they might very well be good cleaners for a lot of things, we can only recommend those actually containing d-limonene.
Apply the citrus cleaners using a Scotchbrite pad, scrubbing gently in the direction of the grain of the wood. Wrap the Scotchbrite around a block of some sort to make the work a bit easier. Allow the solvent to remain on the surface for a few minutes so that it can soften the dirt then rub some more. Use a soft rag or paper towel to remove the solvent slurry from the surface. It is a good idea to repeat the cleaning process making sure that after the second cleaning the solvent that is removed looks clean. Run your hands over the surface to determine if there is any debris stuck to the surface. Remove any such debris with a plastic scraper; a credit card works well. Repeat the cleaning process until you are satisfied that the surface is clean and smooth. Dry the surface with a clean paper towel.

Paste varnish
Create an applicator pad from a small rag torn from an old tee shirt. Use this pad to apply the paste varnish sparingly and rub into the surface. Try to avoid any swirl marks from excess varnish. Allow the coat to dry for several hours. Apply one or more coats in this manner building up a relatively durable surface. After you are satisfied with the appearance of the surface (we often put on three light coats) proceed to the wax polishing steps.

Wax polishing
Now we have arrived at the easy part. Rub some wax polish (we recommend Touch of Oranges Bees Wax Wood Preserver) onto the cleaned and possibly re-oiled surface with a soft cloth or used but clean green Scotchbrite pad. Let the wax dry for a few moments then buff with a soft cloth. For best results buff with a wool rag.

Black Eames Plywood Dining Chair

About furniture polishes that contain silicones Silicones impregnate the wood fibers and can prevent the wood from accepting a new finish. It is very difficult to refinish wood that has been treated with silicone polishes. Silicones interfere with attempts to apply a new finish to an apparently clean surface that is affected with silicone wax. The presence of these nearly impossible to remove silicone compounds will produce a surface finish with spots (called fish-eyes) where the silicones have prevented the new finish from adhering. Silicone polishes are nearly impossible to remove completely; it's better to avoid them in the first place.

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