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How to Clean Up Old Wood

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Cleaning up old furniture and nourishing the wood can be very useful when tidying up that old family heirloom that has been stashed in a garage for years, or when kitting out a new home on a budget with old furniture from a second-hand shop or local auction. Sometimes under all that grime there is a little gem just waiting for you to give it a second lease of life. There are many different processes to clean up and restore old wood, the one I will talk about in this article is suitable for most waxed and unvarnished items. I will at this point say that this process is not to be used on oak as it can sometimes cause an ugly discolouring but for most other woods this is ideal. The trouble with old waxed furniture is that over the years the wax finish picks up dirt and starts to dull the natural patina of the wood. In some cases the wax itself has degraded and leaves a nasty grey-white deposit in the corners and crevasses of the furniture and before applying more polish you need to get rid of all that muck.
What you'll need: 
Rubber gloves a
00 or some 000 grade wire wool – as fine as you can get basically.
A large jam-jar with a lid
Turpentine or turps substitute
Methylated Spirits
Boiled Linseed Oil
Soft cloths or rags
Put on your rubber gloves
In equal quantities place Turpentine, Methylated Spirits and Boiled Linseed Oil into your large jam jar.
Place the lid on tightly and shake well until the contents are thoroughly mixed.
Tear off a good hand full of the wire wool and dowse it in the mixture.
Working with the grain of the wood, rub over all of the surface with a moderate pressure to loosen the dirt.
Do this in sections, wiping off any residue as you go with the soft cloths/ rags.
Once all the dirt has been lifted off leave the item to dry for at least an hour.
The process can be repeated if the dirt is deeply engrained.
Once the wood is both cleaned and dry a fresh coat of a good quality beeswax polish will seal, nourish and reveal the natural beauty of the grain.
For a harder wearing finish, a few coats of Danish Oil or Teak Oil (depending on the wood you are refurbishing) will bring up a lovely sheen to the wood. Details of how to apply these finishes is printed on the tins or bottles that they are sold in.
Restoring old wooden items is very rewarding and stops them from being thrown away when they still have plenty of good use in them. It is not hard to do and can be completed at home without any specialist equipment or buffing tools.
It is important not to use raw linseed oil as this will leave a sticky finish on the wood that will not dry properly.
Boiled Linseed Oil – You can find this readily in its boiled state.
All the materials you will require can be obtained from most hardware stores. Usually I find that the small high street hardware stores are better stocked for this kind of job than the big chain stores.
When working with any abrasives, always work along with the grain of the wood. Do not go across the grain or rub in circles as this will leave marks that are very hard to get out.
Please do not buy raw linseed and attempt to boil it yourself as you will find that there is an acrid resinous vapour given off that is not good for you or any of your soft furnishings in the house.
The substances used are toxic if swallowed and must be kept away from young children.
They are also flammable and need to be kept away from naked flames at all times
Rubber gloves should be used as the substances can also be an irritant.
Avoid getting the substances in contact with your eyes and use protective goggles if you feel you are likely to splash the mixture around.


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