I put this out a number of years ago, it is on my web site but doesn’t show up on searches. It is rather long.
Moses T’s Guide To Furniture Care & Restoration
by Stephen A. Shepherd
Furniture including antiques requires a certain amount of
maintenance and care. The proper care of furniture can increase the life of the
furniture indefinitely. This publication focuses on the care of furniture and
the correct methods of touch up and finish restoration to damage that invariably
occurs to the exposed surfaces of the furniture.
Repairs should be done to the furniture prior to any finish or
touch up work. Missing parts need to be replaced with replacement parts that
exactly match the original. The wood used should be of the same species as the
original and fabrication in the exact style and shape as the original. Liquid
hide glue should be used to repair any loose joints of antique furniture and
carpenters glue used only on any breaks in the wood itself. Any glue should be
removed from exposed surfaces to allow the finish and or stain to soak in
evenly. Pigmented shellac can be used to cover up any glue that can not be
easily removed. Check the list of Furniture Care Tips at the end of this
The first step in the process of maintaining and caring for
furniture, including antiques, is a thorough cleaning. The interior should be
brushed down and vacuumed. All loose dirt should be dusted from the surface
prior to washing. Washing is done with clean warm water and any liquid soap, not
detergent. Put a few drops of soap into a quart of water, add more if surface
accumulations are excessive. Wash the piece with a soft cloth or sponge that has
been wrung out. The surfaces should NOT be flooded with the soap water mixture.
Puddles should not be allowed to stand on any surface. In some cases a plastic
scouring pad can be used to remove thick accumulations, paint splatters and any
other surface irregularities. Do Not rub too hard at this time on paint
splatters or smudges; these can be dealt with during the treatment
Some finishes such as shellac and spirit based varnishes will
turn milky when water is applied. The hazy milky ness will go away as the
surface dries out completely. Don’t panic if there is some cloudiness, the
treatment process will eliminate this problem.
Once the surface has been washed and cleaned, a dry cloth is
used to wipe up any moisture remaining on the surface. Particularly abused or
dirty finishes may require a second washing after the first washing has dried
completely. Before the second washing or before the treatment process, the
surfaces must be completely dry. This can take from a few minutes to a few days
depending on the humidity and temperature.
The treatment process should not be attempted until the piece of
furniture has been through a thorough cleaning and washing processes and allowed
to dry completely. This assures that if the surfaces have been softened by the
cleaning process it will have time to dry out and firm up. Accumulations that
are not readily removed in the cleaning process (water soluble dirt), will be
taken care of during the treatment process.
All repairs should be done prior to the treatment process. Some
damage is only uncovered after a piece has been cleaned, so the damage should be
repaired before any treatment takes place.
Once a piece of furniture has been cleaned and repaired, if
necessary, its surfaces need to be treated with Moses T’s
Reviver. Simply apply Moses T’s Reviver sparingly
to all exposed surfaces needing treatment; making sure that all surfaces ore
covered evenly with Reviver. Let stand on the surfaces for 10 minutes.
After waiting 10 minutes, remove any excess that has not soaked into the surface
with a clean cloth. Read the directions on the label.
The surface should be allowed to dry and firm up before further
treatment. The nature of Moses T’s Reviver is such that
it slightly softens the surface to start the healing process. So not be alarmed
at this slight softening of the finish as this happens to all finishes and is
part of the reviving process. Some surfaces will need only one treatment with
Reviver to renew. Others will require additional treatments with
Reviver to help repair the damage to the finish caused by the drying
effects of time and exposure.
The advantage of Moses T’s Reviver is
that its solvents are similar to the original finish solvents and the
application of Reviver to original finishes does not dissolve and reapply
the finish. Rather it slightly softens the finish, re-adheres any flaking finish
and begins to repair cracks, crazes, spider webbing and hazing in the
At the same time the cleaning agents in Reviver loosen
surface accumulations as well as softening paint splatters and scuffs, allowing
them to be removed with a fingernail, putty knife or 0000 steel wool. A light
surface scouring with fine steel wool or fine sandpaper can be used to remove
stubborn accumulations and surface irregularities. However, if most of the
original finish is high gloss, then steel wool or sand paper are not
recommended, a coarse cloth such as linen is recommended.
Most water rings and water marks are successfully treated with
Moses T’s Reviver. Again, 0000 steel wool might be
required to open the surface of the finish slightly to allow the Reviver
to easily penetrate and treat the damaged finished caused by water.
Clear heavily varnished or lacquered finishes with fine checking
require special treatment. All oil products will darken raw untreated wood. This
also applies to the raw wood at the bottom of the fine checking or cracks of the
heavy clear finish. If Reviver is soaked into these cracks it will darken
or change the color of the wood underneath. For this treatment the
Reviver is sparingly applied to the cracks with a fine cloth, cotton swab
or cotton ball, without soaking the cracks or checks to the extent the
Reviver goes through the cracks and into the wood. The Reviver is
carefully applied to a small area and quickly wiped from the surface; this is
repeated until the entire surface is treated. This is especially relevant to
musical instrument finishes. Violins, guitars, harp sounding boards and other
surfaces using vertical grain spruce or cedar, require this careful light
treatment with Reviver to prevent discoloration of the wood under the
clear finish. The darker woods such as rosewood or mahogany might discolor under
their heavy clear finish but this is not usually as noticeable and the treatment
usually reduces deterioration of this type of finish. A test can be done in an
inconspicuous area to determine if Reviver will effect the wood
underneath the clear finish.
Antique finishes when they were originally applied, contained
moisture in the form of oils and gums that begin to dry out the moment they are
applied. Moses T’s Reviver, adds the
moisture to the finish materials and refreshes the properties of the finish.
Cracks, checking, hazing and dulling are all the result of loss of original
moisture, hence, flexibility and oxidation begins. This is why the surface
damage called alligatoring or alligator finish happens. As the cracks first
microscopically appear, air is allowed into the finish and the cracks get wider.
Heavy washing of the surface and exposure widens the cracks by washing away the
oxidation. Just frequent dusting of damaged surfaces can wipe away the loose
oxidation. With a treatment of Moses T’s Reviver, the
healing process begins, the moisture is added back to the original finish and
the solvents also act upon the oxidation to re-fuse it to its surrounding areas.
With repeated application, in conjunction with light sanding with fine sandpaper
(400 to 600 grit), the heavily textured finish can be smoothed and restored to
near original condition. This will never replace missing finish. However, a
treatment with Moses T’s Reviver will make the missing
finish less noticeable. If the finish needs to be replaced, see the following
section on touch-ups.
Certain types of furniture are painted with opaque paints to
cover the wood grain and change the color of the furniture. Some furniture is
constructed of different wood and a heavy bodied stain is used to make all of
the woods match. Some old antique furniture is painted and grained to imitate
other woods or stone such as mahogany and marble. Moses T’s
Reviver is safe to use on painted finishes and can perform the same
healing process to damaged paint. Flaking and delaminating paint can be
re-adhered to the groundwork with a careful application of Moses
Bubbles or blisters in paint or other clear finishes can be
treated with some success with Moses T’s Reviver. The
Reviver is applied to the areas and the bubbles of finish or paint are
observed. Sometimes they will flatten out on their own, other require a flat
smooth object such as a piece of glass is placed over the bubbles and pressured
applied to smooth them down. If a wooden block is used to flatten the bubbles
then an intervening sheet of wax paper is used to keep the finish from sticking
to the block of wood. Any blisters that have ruptured and produce areas of
missing finish or paint need to be in-filled with matching finish or paint, see
If the finish or wood is severely damaged, several applications
of Moses T’s Reviver might be required.
The finish should be allowed to firm up between treatments to prevent the finish
from becoming too soft and susceptible to further damage. The firming up time
varies from a few hours to a few days depending upon the properties of the
finish and the temperature and humidity.
Dents, dings and creases in the finish and in the wood
underneath can be treated with Moses T’s Reviver. The
Reviver will swell the dents and creases up almost to their original
level and will make these marks less noticeable to the eye.
If the furniture does not have any original finish remaining or
the original oil finish has dried out then an application of Moses
T’s Reviver will penetrate the wood and strengthen it
from within its fibers. This strengthening also occurs if the wood has a finish.
Reviver is the deepest penetrating of all Moses T’s
Products. After a treatment with Moses T’s
Reviver, the finish is capable of withstanding heavy use and will be
more durable and easier to repair from subsequent damage.
It is important to follow the instructions on the container of
Moses T’s Reviver. The most important thing is
not to allow a thick coat of Reviver to dry on the surface. If this
happens a sticky film may result and is easily removed with an additional
application of Reviver and the surface wiped down. All excess should be
wiped away after the piece has been soaking for 10 minutes.
Old pieces of furniture are frequently covered with many coats
of paint over the original finish. The over painting was frequently done just to
modernize the old furniture and the original finish may be largely in tact. Some
painted and grained pieces of antique furniture have very valuable finishes
under the subsequent coats of paint.
In some instances the finish will be protected by a varnish and
this varnish provides a layer that separates the original over painting. This
varnish layer together with the usual surface accumulations provides a point at
which the over paint can be removed. Depending on how well the over paint
adheres to the varnish determines how difficult the extra paint is removed. The
varnish layer sometimes provides a surface from which the paint will delaminate
from the surface from which the paint will delaminate from the original finish
and can be removed mechanically. Dull smooth putty knives, pallet or painting
knives or dull chisels can be used to remove the paint. Start at a crack or chip
and determine if the mechanical removal process will work. Followed by a
treatment of Moses T’s Reviver, touch ups and
If the mechanical process will not work then chemical strippers
can be used. Follow the directions on the container except do not apply the last
coat of stripper. Carefully strip only small areas at a time, then after the
stripped surface has firmed up (the solvents will slightly soften the original
finish), using Moses T’s Reviver and fine 0000
steel wool, clean of the remaining paint and treat the original finish beneath.
This is followed by touch ups and the piece can be finished.
Holes, cracks and voids in the finished surface need to be
filled after treatment and prior to touch up. Some filling is best done after
the finish is applied, depending upon the individual cases.
Pumice or rottenstone and pigment mixed with thinned spar
varnish can be applied to areas were just the grain of the wood needs to be
filled. The area is allowed to dry and smoothed with fine sandpaper lubricated
with Moses T’s St. John’s Oil.
Holes, cracks and voids are vest filled with a hard burn in
stick. Shellac sticks or stopping (made of beeswax and rosin) can be used to
fill larger holes. Use a burn in knife and apply enough material to fill the
particular voids, cracks, etc., then heat the knife and clean it with a soft
cloth. Then gently heat the knife and smooth out each filled spot. A lower
temperature must be maintained to avoid scorching surrounding areas. Some burn
in sticks will bubble if the temperature is too high or dimples in after they
cool. You may need to repeat the process if this occurs. If necessary the
filling can then be smoothed with fine sandpaper lubricated with Moses
T’s St. John’s Oil or St. John’s Wax. Rottenstone can be
used to buff out to a desired shine, it should also be lubricated with
Once you get the knack of using stopping or burn in sticks, you
will find it a versatile material for finish repairs. It is completely
reversible for curatorial considerations and its workability can produce
professional results with a little practice.
By adding powdered pigment to heated stopping, any color can be
achieved. Only a small amount of pigment should be used, to allow the
translucent nature of stopping to match the natural depth of real wood. With
filling and touching up, it is important to imitate the nature of the wood by
adding depth to fill or touch up by layering fill and touchup. Wood has natural
depth and luster. Finishing increases the depth and luster by optically changing
the surface. By copying the depth and luster of the real wood and finish in the
fill and touchup, the eye is more easily fooled into not noticing the touch ups
IV Touch ups
Once the furniture has been washed and treated with Moses
T’s Reviver and any necessary filling is done, it is
ready for touch ups. Touch ups are done only in areas where the finish is
missing or damaged. Touch ups can be done with dry powdered pigments and a
variety of vehicles. The pigment can be used With Moses T’s
St. John’s Oil, with shellac, with paint or varnish or in paste wax
depending on the requirements.
If the finish is in good shape but a few minor holes need to be
filled then paste wax is chosen. Enough beeswax to fill all of the holes is
formed into a ball with the fingers and touched into the powdered pigment until
the exact color match is achieved. The wax and pigments are mixed by kneading
the ball of wax with the fingers. It is then forced into the holes and can be
smoothed with a smooth putty knife, pallet or painting knife. If the was / is
not the same color as the original then it should ere to the lighter side and
can be touched up later. The wax is then buffed with a clean cloth moistened
with Moses T’s St. John’s Oil if a satin finish is
desired or St. John’s Wax if wax protection is required or with
Moses T’s Gunstocker’s Finish to achieve a high
Pigmented wax repairs or touch ups might be all required after
treatment to complete a restoration. Sometimes it is done before any other
finish work is done. But it can also be done after the finish is completed.
Pigmented wax is a versatile repair tool that can be taken into the field and
serviceable repairs accomplished without moving the furniture. The wax repairs
are buffed with a clean cloth to match the shine of the surrounding
The dry powdered pigments can be mixed with white oil based
paint to match the surface being touched up. White latex paint also works. This
technique is used to cover marks that cannot be removed or that do not respond
to treatments. Cigarette burns and holes filled with wood putty as well as dark
stains are candidate for pigmented paint touch ups. The pigmented paints are
used to physically cover the unsightly marks. They are applied with a small
brush and done in the same direction as the grain of the wood or in the manner
of the original finish if it is painted.
Wood is usually more than one color so the first touch ups are
done with the lightest color first. This is allowed to dry and the darker marks
of the pores of the wood are put on by adding some burnt umber or black to the
previously pigmented paint touch up. If the touch ups are dull and not as shiny
as the surrounding finish then a final coat of one of Moses T’s
Fine Finishes will bring all the surfaces to the same shine and luster. If a
touch up is particularly dull then a light coat of shellac can add the needed
shine; if the touch ups are too shiny then whiting or rottenstone can be added
to paint or shellac to dull the finish.
Pigments can also be added to clear varnish to color it when the
opaqueness of white paint is not required.
Pigments can also be added to Moses T’s
St. John’s Oil to provide an oil based stain. Once a piece has been
treated with Moses T’s Reviver they any lighter areas can
be stained with pigmented St. John’s Oil. Enough oil to do the staining
is mixed with just enough pigment to provide the exact color match. It is rubbed
on in the direction of the wood, allowed to dry for 10 minutes and the excess
wiped off. If should be allowed to dry at least overnight before any finish work
or further staining is done.
Pigmented St. John’s Oil can also be used to stain wood
that has been previously stripped. The stripped piece should be treated with
Moses T’s Reviver prior to staining. This is
done to replace the moisture that is removed by the harsh stripping process.
This also ensures that the pigmented St. John’s Oil will absorb evenly.
End grain wood will absorb more stain than the side grain, so if it is
previously treated with Reviver, the stain will absorb more
If a piece of antique furniture needs a part or two replaced it
will need to match the old wood and finish. All wood turns either red or yellow
with age. Walnut becomes lighter with age. When replacing parts the first stain
should be red or yellow to add artificial age before the matching stain is
Some surfaces might be bleached out by exposure to sunlight.
Pigmented St. John’s Oil can add the proper color back to the faded
colors of the wood or finish. If a darker color is needed then the process
should be repeated with thin coats only until the desired finish is achieved. Do
not allow a thick coat of pigmented St. John’s Oil to dry on the surface;
either add more pigment to the oil or use pigmented shellac. Two or three thin
coats are better than one thick coats.
Pigmented shellac is one of the most versatile touch up
materials. It can be applied in a thin even coat or built up to fill in missing
or to fill small holes. It is easily removed with more shellac or alcohol. In
museum terminology it is reversible.
Pigmented shellac can be used for a variety of finish repairs.
Plain non pigmented shellac can be used to make previous touch ups shine.
Rottenstone or whiting can be used with shellac to produce a non shiny (matte)
finish. The degree of dullness is directly proportional to the amount of
rottenstone or whiting. More – dull and less – shiny. If wood is being touched
up then the same process as described with pigmented paint is followed. The
lightest color pigmented shellac is applied first, followed by the darker
pigmented shellac. If a white or clear finish needs to be touched up then the
clear varnish or bleached shellac is used. It may be slightly colored with dry
powdered pigments to match the desired light or clear finish.
At times it is necessary to smooth the finish or touch up with
fine 600 grit sandpaper. This should be done wet, in other words with a little
St. John’s Oil on the sandpaper. This lubricates the surface being sanded
and reduces heavy scratching on fine surfaces.
If a piece of furniture has been over painted and is stripped,
sometimes paint is left in the grain or in cracks or corners. Instead of trying
to remove the fine lines of bright paint in the grain of dark oak for example,
it is easier to touch up the light paint with umber pigmented shellac and a
small brush. At times a brown colored pencil can prove indispensable in covering
blemishes such as paint in cracks or open grain. If a light coat of shellac is
placed over the touch ups or the entire surface, the pencil marks become
permanent and will not rub off. Orange shellac can be used for darker woods and
bleached shellac or clear varnished can be used for lighter colored woods and
After the piece has been repaired, washed, treated and touched
up, it is ready for its final finish. In some instances the treatment and touch
ups are all that is needed, but if the treated finish or touch ups are dull then
a final finish should be applied. Moses T’s provides a complete
choice of finishes. For a satin oil finish, St. John’s Oil is the choice.
If wax protection or a rich wax luster are required then St. John’s Wax
is selected. For those who prefer a high gloss or bright shine then
Gunstocker’s Finish is the one to choose.
Moses T’s All Natural Products are
blended from the highest quality ingredients to traditional formulas. They have
provided hundreds of years of proven history and have stood the test of
The surface should be allowed to firm up after treatment any
touch ups should be allowed enough time to completely dry. Any irregularities in
the surface should be smoothed with 0000 steel wool or 600 grit sandpaper. Any
dust should be wiped away from all surfaces, then one of Moses
T’s fine finishes can be applied.
Moses T’s St. John’s Oil
produces a satin hand rubbed finish. From medieval origins this oil has been a
standard for furniture builders and cabinetmakers for centuries. The beautiful
patinas created by repeated application have lasted and protected for hundreds
of years. By far the most common furniture finish, St. John’s Oil is
faithfully recreated by Moses T’s for continued use
St. John’s Oil is applied evenly to the surface needing
finish. A thin covering is all that is required. It is allowed to soak into the
wood or finish for 10 minutes. Then all excess should wiped off with a clean
cloth. A thick film should not be allowed to dry on the surface. If this happens
and immediate application of St. John’s Oil or in extreme cases
Reviver, are required to soften the sticky deposits. It is easy and will
save you extra work if all excess is wiped from the surface within 15 minutes
If the surface is too dull after the finish dries then
additional applications of Moses T’s St. John’s Oil may
be required. The amount of drying time varies from a few minutes to several
hours depending upon the condition of the wood or finish and the surrounding
temperature and humidity. Periodic treatment with Moses
T’s St. John’s Oil is all that is required to maintain the
surface of the furniture. The oil strengthens the internal fibers of the wood
and strengthens and enhances the finish.
Moses T’s St. John’s Oil is an excellent
first application for finishing with St. John’s Wax or Gunstocker’s
Finish. If the wood has open grain and needs to be filled with whiting or
rottenstone are mixed with a small amount of St. John’s Oil and wiped
into the grain of the wood in a circular motion to deposit the filler into the
grain. The surface is then wiped smooth, but not hard enough to remove the
filler from the grain. Allow the filler finish to dry completely before any
further finishing. A light sanding with 600 grit sand paper might be
Moses T’s St. John’s Wax is an oil wax
finish that is easy to use, provides beeswax protection from moisture damage and
does not build up. The waxes are in a fine suspension within the oil and are
deposited on the surface of the finish or wood and maintain the moisture barrier
when properly and evenly applied.
St. John’s Wax is applied in a circular motion to deposit
the wax into any open grain or uniformly cover the surface. It is allowed to
soak in for 10 minutes and then the excess is removed with a clean cloth rubbing
in the direction of the grain. St. John’s Wax can also be used to fill
any open grain of the wood.
While the excess wax is being removed with a clean cloth, it
will polish itself and buff to a beautiful wax luster. If necessary the process
is repeated and after the final application has been wiped from the surface, it
can be buffed to the desired wax shine.
On table tops, counters and other areas exposed to water,
several applications of St. John’s Wax may be required. On exterior
wooden doors the frequent application should be in relation to the amount of
exposure the door has to the weather. All heavily exposed areas should have
frequent treatments of St. John’s Wax to provide continuing
For those who prefer a finish capable of a high gloss,
Moses T’s Gunstocker’s Finish, a hard natural resin oil
finish is recommended. Gunstocker’s Finish was originally used in the
early nineteenth century to provide a fine finish capable of a high gloss for
rifle and pistol gun stocks. It is easy to use and provides the necessary
protection for both metal and wood on those gun stocks. Gunstocker’s
Finish contains rare gums and valuable resins including amber, to produce a
durable shiny finish. Moses T’s Gunstocker’s
Finish is applied to the entire surface needing a finish. It is allowed to
stand for 10 minutes to soak in any excess is wiped from the surfaces. Just
follow the direction on the container and do not allow a thick film to dry on
the surface or the surface will be sticky. Wipe off all excess. It is easier to
get a better finish with several thin coats rather than one thick
For a high gloss, several applications may be required. It is
important to allow the previous coat to dry before applying the subsequent
coats. The time required to dry can range from a few minutes to several hours.
Once the final application dries, the surface can be buffed by hand, a lint free
cloth or a soft power buffer can be used to bring a high gloss to the
The gums and resins are deposited on the surface while the oils
penetrate to strengthen the wood fibers or the finish material. These gums and
resins produce friction on the surface that allows Gunstocker’s Finish to
be buffed to a high gloss.
If the surface is damaged then another application of
Gunstocker’s Finish can be applied to repair the finish. If extreme
damage occurs a treatment of Reviver might be recommended.
When caring for furniture especially antique furniture, it is
always best to preserve as much of the original as possible and this includes
the original finish. An antique is of greater value if it has its original
finish. Moses T’s All Natural Wood Care Products
provides those original finishes with St. John’s Oil, St. John’s
Wax and Gunstocker’s Finish and an excellent treatment for other
original finishes with Reviver.
The original integrity of the artifacts can be preserved as well
as caring for new furniture that will become heirlooms and priceless antiques
for our children.
With proper care and maintenance the useful life expectancy of
furniture can be extended indefinitely.
It is far easier to restore and touch up a finish on a piece of
furniture than it is to completely remove the old valuable finish and replace it
with a new one. Moses T’s Reviver allows that to
happen by restoring the finish rather than replacing it.
Moses T’s All Natural wood Care
Products are traditional solutions to furniture care problems.
Notes on the Care
of Antique Furniture
-Antique furniture must be cared for not only as personal
possessions but as material examples of our culture. Antiques are actual
examples of our past and we have a responsibility to preserve and protect these
examples for our posterity to enjoy and study. Antiques tell a great deal about
our past. They can tell us of how our ancestors mad the artifacts as well as the
styles that were popular when our ancestors were alive. The wear can indicate
how difficult the past was on both furniture and people. These antiques are rare
examples how life was one, two, three hundred or more years ago.
-When repairing or restoring antique furniture it is best to
maintain as much of the original as possible, this includes the original finish.
The furniture will be of more value if as much as possible of the original is
intact. Only replace that which is missing without removing any undamaged
sections. Replacing is not preserving but if it can not be helped then the
replacement should be exactly like the original in material and
-When restoring antique furniture it is important to replace
anything missing with exact replacement whether it is the finish or the glue.
Antique furniture was glued together with animal hide glue applied hot. When
replacing missing glue in loose joints it is important to use hide glue. It is
not stronger than the wood itself and if further damage occurs it will usually
happen at the hide glue joint and minimize damage. It is easier to repair a
loose joint than split wood. Modern glues can be used to repair breaks and
splits in wood as long as it is not an original hide glue joint.
-It is always better to restore an original finish than it is to
strip and replace it with a new one. As much as 70 to 80% of the value of a
piece of antique furniture can be in its original finish. However if the finish
can not be saved then a finish exactly like the original should be used to
replace the original finish. By using Moses T’s Reviver,
old finishes can be restored to original condition and any missing finish can
then be replaced with finish matching the original in kind with Moses
T’s Furniture Care Products and shellac or varnish.
-When dealing with veneered pieces of antique furniture, care
must be taken to insure the veneer is not damaged. If a piece has to be stripped
then the veneer surfaces should not be flooded with stripper or water in the
cleaning process. These old veneers were attached using hide glue and hide glue
is water soluble. To test for loose veneer on a surface simply run your fingers
lightly over the surfaces. If the veneer has a good glue joint then there will
be no sound. If the veneer is blistered or the glue bond has failed then there
will be a ‘hissing’ sound as the fingers pass over the bad area. If the glue has
recently failed then there is a 50% chance that it can be re-adhere with heat.
This can be done by a carefully controlled heat source applied just to the
damaged area. If this does not work then the glue will need to be replaced. The
area must be free of dirt and other accumulations. This can be accomplished with
a hypodermic needle to re-inject glue into the area where the glue is missing. A
small slit might be necessary to allow any trapped air to escape as the veneer
is being re-glued. Once the glue is under the veneer then it should be clamped
flat to the surrounding surfaces. If the veneer is loose at an edge then
accumulated dirt should be removed to insure that the glue has a clean surface
to adhere to properly. Use a thick piece of clear plastic (1/4 to 3/8 inch
thick) when clamping the veneer to allow you to observe the area being
Care of Furniture
Furniture should be cared for to insure that it makes it through
its life usefully and if the furniture is antique to insure that it can make it
through the years to come.
The worst enemies of furniture are light, heat, moisture and
abuse. If the furniture is protected from these elements then it has a good
chance of surviving indefinitely. With some historically important pieces of
furniture there is an obligation to mankind to maintain and preserve.
Furniture should be protected from harmful UV (Ultra Violet)
rays that can damage the finish and hasten deterioration of the cell walls of
the wood itself. These UV rays come from artificial light as well as direct and
indirect sunlight. Furniture should never be exposed to direct sunlight. It
should be protected by placement in the room or the windows should be coated
with a UV filter to minimize damage. Artificial lights in the room should be
filtered if they are near any wooden furniture.
Furniture should not be placed in front of heat vents, near
radiators or other heat sources. This heat can force dry out the wood fibers,
blister the finish, and loosen glue joints or bubble veneer. A clothes iron is a
handy tool for reapplying loose veneer but it is also a tool of destruction if
it is unintentionally placed on furniture. Before placing any hot object such as
a sauce pan on tables or any other wooden surface, always place a trivet,
coaster or hot pad down first.
Moisture is perhaps the most insidious natural enemy of
furniture. In the form of rain dripping from a leaky roof, flood water damage,
water damage under green house plants, water rings or humidity, water loves
wood. With a good beeswax finish, however, most water damage can be averted.
Green potted house plants should always have seamless pans under them to prevent
damage from over watering. Wipe up any spilled water immediately. Even damage
from flood waters can be minimized if the wooden furniture is protected with
beeswax. The ever present water rings caused by wet drinking glasses can be
avoided if the surface is protected with beeswax. For beeswax can only be solved
or cut with turpentine, therefore it will protect against other liquids.
Humidity is an enemy that can be controlled if the surfaces are sealed with a
finish. These finishes need to be inherently flexible to stand the changes in
wood with changes in humidity. Finishes made of petroleum distillates do no
behave like natural finishes and can cause severe damage. Excessive humidity
causes the wood to swell and low humidity causes the wood to shrink. A proper
finish will act with the wood while protecting it from excessive
Abuse is the easiest enemy of furniture damage to defeat. If
furniture is treated properly it will last indefinitely. This does not mean that
the furniture should not be used, non use and neglect allow the furniture to all
into a state of disrepair and disregard. If a piece of furniture is being used
then any damage that occurs is apparent right away. All damage should be
repaired as soon as it happens. This allows the repairs to be done before any
further damage. If the wood is broken, the break or crack can be more easily
repaired if the edges are sharp and fresh rather than broken over with pieces
missing. If a piece of furniture breaks into pieces, those pieces should all be
collected and the repair should be done immediately.
Care of furniture also includes how the furniture is used, and
how it is positioned or set. It is very important that the piece of furniture is
sitting flat on the floor. It must be setting level. Pieces like breakfronts,
desks or other items with drawers and doors, require that it be set LEVEL in
order for the doors and drawers to operate properly. The hinges and other
hardware need to be free from binding to insure smooth operation. If an object
with four legs is set with one leg on the carpeting, chances are the doors will
not work as they should. This can be alleviated by placing all four legs on the
same surfaces and shim under the appropriate leg(s) to make the object ‘plumb,
level and square’.
Furniture needs to be used for the purpose for which it was
intended through design and construction. It is tempting to set on the arm of an
overstuffed couch or chair, but that is not how it is supposed to be used. A
side chair is not a step stool, a table is not a platform from which to change a
light bulb, a coffee table is not a foot rest and a cabinet door is not a
child’s swing. A chair is intended for setting, not leaning back on the back two
legs or twirling circus tricks on one leg, it is for setting or is it sitting.
When moving a chair it is best to pick it up by its seat, NOT its arms or
cresting rail. When sitting in a chair and it has to be moved up to the table,
your weight needs to be shifted to your feet and the chair gently moved forward
rather than trying the four legged leap. The same consideration should be given
when leaving the table and the chair should be returned gently to the table
without hitting the edge of the table top with the chair arms or back or the
table legs with the chair legs.
The problem with chairs is the fact that they are the most
mobile piece of furniture. It is usually light weight, easy to move, carries
heavy loads and is the most frequently damaged. If these guidelines are followed
the chair has a better chance to survive.
Tables are subject to their own kind of damage. Setting on
uneven ground can twist the woodwork and loosen joints. Liquids allowed to soak
in and damage untreated surfaces. Hot objects are all too often placed on
tables, heavy items dropped on the tops can cause dents and dings. Heavy loads
can cause stress on the woodwork, the heavy handed writer can leave a permanent
record of their scribe work through their paper and into the surface of the
wood. Protection from these problems can be provided with the use of place mats,
doilies or table cloths.
When moving tables, always remove any extra leaves, drawers,
etc. to lighten the load. Never grab a table to move it by its top, always pick
it up by its apron, under the top where the legs are attached. The apron is
stronger and the support is more evenly distributed.
When moving anything with drawers, always remove them before
picking it up. Even if it is just to the next room. Invariably what ever is
being moved is tipped and out comes the drawers spilling its contents and
splitting its seams. Also drawers should never be overloaded with too much
weight or too much volume. Drawers should work smoothly and any binding can mean
uneven floors, missing guides, broken or worn parts. Try rubbing a little soap
on the outside bottom edges of the drawer to make it work smoothly. If a drawer
has two handles, used both of them not just one.
Doors on furniture can be damaged because of their frequent use
or for many other reasons. The hinges are usually the problem and many
adjustments such as tightening up the screws and straightening the leaves or
pins may be required. Again the furniture should be sitting flat on the floor to
insure that every thing is square.
The best way to care for furniture is to provide protection.
This can be in the form of intentional placement, protective coverings and a
proper finish. If a piece of furniture is exposed to moisture then it needs
protection with beeswax. If a piece gets surface wear then a natural hard resin
oil finish is required. The use of products containing petroleum distillates
should be avoided. These plastics are not like wood and can cause irreparable
damage. Use only natural products when treating natural wooden
Furniture Care Tips
- Avoid placing furniture in direct sunlight. Place ultraviolet
filters over all sources of UV light.
- Avoid placing furniture next to heat sources or in front of
heating or air conditioning vents.
- Do not place heavy or rough objects on fine furniture finishes
without some protection such as a doily.
- Place stick on felt pads to rough objects to protect the
surface from scratching.
- Do not place potted house plants directly on furniture. Use a
smooth seamless drip tray to collect excess water. Use care when watering
plants, not to splash water on the finish. Protect surfaces with Moses
T’s St. John’s Wax.
- Do not place hot objects directly on the finish. Use trivets,
coasters or hot pads to protect the surface from heat.
- Use coasters or napkins to protect surfaces from beverage
- Do not slide objects across a fine furniture finish. Even fine
china is rough on its unglazed bottom edges. Pick up the object and place it
down without sliding.
- Protect fine surfaces that are in areas in constant use with
cloth runners, table clothes, place mats and desk pads.
- Clean all spills and splashes immediately.
- When applying Moses T’s Furniture Care
Products, always make sure that the surface is covered evenly, especially the
edges of the surface. Make sure all excess is wiped off after 10 minutes. It is
very important that the excess is removed from the edges and sides. These are
easily missed and a thick sticky film can accumulate. Always double check these
areas to avoid problems.
- When finishing turned chair legs, make sure that the end grain
at the top of the leg or where end grain occurs such as deep or intricate
turnings receive more finish. The end grain will always absorb more finish than
the flat grain, so always apply enough as the finish is absorbed to evenly cover
all surfaces. It is also important to remove all excess from the turnings. This
is sometimes difficult with complex turnings with fine incised cuts, so use a
soft paper towel, or a strip of soft cotton or linen to remove all excess finish
from the surfaces.
- Heavily damages surfaces such as kitchen tables used for garage
work benches, several applications of finish might be required to heal excessive
damage. These areas are apparent when the first coat of finish is applied as
these areas will turn dull immediately, indicating that the oil has penetrated
to heal the damage from within. Extra finish can be liberally applied to these
areas until they will not absorb any more finish. It is still important to wipe
off all excess after 10 minutes and then repeat the process if required.
- Some areas on wooden surfaces will absorb the finish well then
after the 10 minute waiting period, the excess is removed and she surface should
be done. These areas will then ‘bleed’ finish back out onto the surface leaving
extra shiny spots. It is a good idea to check back later and look for any areas
that might ‘bleed’. This phenomenon is caused by the cell walls expanding after
the oil has had a chance to absorb into the actual cellulose wood fibers. This
swelling then forces the oil back out the path it came in, namely the grain or
- Moses T’s Reviver will absorb
back into the cellulose fibers forming the cell walls of the wood, to replace
the essential moisture in the form of oil that has been drying from the wood
since it was harvested. The Reviver will strengthen the wood fibers by
forming a long bond polymerizing natural coating to stabilize the deterioration.
Reviver also works with paint to replace the missing elasticity that has
occurred through age and exposure. It is suitable for interior and exterior
applications and prevents further deterioration of both wood and finish.
- When finishing furniture it is important to finish all sides
that are exposed to the atmosphere rather than just external exposed surfaces.
Drawers usually are not finished except on the drawer front. It is important to
finish both sides of a surface to prevent uneven moisture protection. It is
better to have a little finish on both sides than just on one. It is better not
to have any finish on a board such as a drawer part than to just finish one
side. Wood always adjust to moisture changes, expanding when it is moist and
contracting when it is dry. If the finish is on both sides then the adjustments
are even and warping, twisting and cracking do not occur.
-A little powdered pigment goes a long way, use
-Mix up only the amount of material that can be used at one
time, the fresher the mixture the better, dry products have indefinite shelf
-Mix shellac flakes with equal parts alcohol, allow to dissolve,
shake well, strain or allow particulate to settle, thin to desired consistency.
Premixed Shellac in a can should be fresh, check date and dilute at least
-Use a soot-less flame (alcohol lamp, hot plate, etc.) to heat
the burn in knife for stopping and stick shellac. Does not require high
temperature that could damage surrounding finish, keep it cool.
-Ideal Furniture Environment: CONSTANT temperature and
Temperature: Between 60 and 75 degrees (F) Fahrenheit
Humidity: Between 30 and 50 percent (relative
Avoid rapid changes in temperature and or humidity, drying time
of different products varies with temperature and humidity. Cooler and or humid
conditions require longer drying times.