Furniture Care Tips

Furniture Care Tips

  • To tighten up wicker seats that have sagged, spray them with water or diluted lemon oil, then set them in the sun to dry. Oil the wicker for protection after it dries thoroughly.
  • To tighten loose knobs on furniture, unscrew the knob and coat the screw with clear fingernail polish. Then reattach the knobs and let the polish harden.
  • If the hole for a knob’s screw becomes too large, remove the knob, and pack the hole with toothpicks and wood glue.
  • Wipe off all extra glue with a damp rag before it dries. After the glue is dry, trim off the ends of any toothpicks that stick out of the hole. Drill a new hole in the wood, and screw the knob back on.
  • Make a drawer slide like new again by rubbing the end of a candle or a bar of soap along the sides of the drawer.
  • When a drawer has expanded due to moisture, drying it in the sun will shrink it back down.
  • If one leg on a piece of furniture is too short or your floor is just too crooked, glue a button under the bottom of the one leg.
  • To remove white water marks from wood furniture, rub the spot gently with white toothpaste on a damp cloth.
  • Stubborn furniture rings from wet glasses may be removed by rubbing with a mixture of equal parts distilled vinegar and olive oil. Rub it in with the grain, and polish.
  • Clean dull woodwork by rubbing it with a soft cloth dipped in a solution of 1 tablespoon of white vinegar per quart of warm water. Buffing it with a soft, dry cloth to make the wood really shine.
  • Hide scratches in wood furniture with lemon juice and vegetable oil. Mix equal parts of lemon juice and oil, and rub into the scratches with a soft cloth until the scratches disappear.
  • Clean dirt and built-up polish from wood furniture with a mixture of 1 teaspoon of olive oil, 1 teaspoon of white vinegar, and 1 quart of warm water. Shake the mixture, apply with a soft cloth, and dry with another soft cloth.
  • To remove paper that is stuck on wood furniture, apply oil. Let set, then wipe off with a soft cloth.
Antiquing

To make new brass knobs and trim look antique (if they are not lacquered) with salt and vinegar. Add two tablespoons of salt to a cup of vinegar. Rub the mixture onto the metal, let it set overnight, rinse, and dry. This can be repeated to look older and older each time.

Polishes

  • Polish with plain olive oil , almond oil , or walnut oil .
  • Mineral oil from the drugstore will work for polishing wood furniture.
  • Clean and polish wood furniture. Mix 1 cup of olive oil , almond oil or walnut oil and 1/2 cup of white vinegar or lemon juice. Shake the mixture well, and apply a little bit to a soft rag. Spread the polish evenly over the furniture surface, then polish with a dry cloth.
  • Another homemade wood polish consists of 1/2 lemon oil and 1/2 white vinegar, pour the mixture into a spray bottle, and shake before using.
  • Dark wood polish consists of 1 teaspoon of olive oil , the juice of 1 lemon, 1 teaspoon of whiskey or brandy, and 1 teaspoon of water. Mix and apply with soft cloth.
  • Make your own unscented furniture polish with 3 parts olive oil and 1 part vinegar. Mix well, and apply with soft cloth.

Antiquing

Antiquing
Brass

To make new brass knobs and trim look antique (if they are not lacquered) with salt and vinegar. Add two tablespoons of salt to a cup of vinegar. Rub the mixture onto the metal, let it set overnight, rinse, and dry. This can be repeated to look older and older each time.

Wood

Wood furniture, boxes, etc., can be given an antique patina overnight. Simply wrap them in a trashbag, put an open bowl or jar of ammonia into the bag, and tie it up tightly. The ammonia fumes speed up the natural darkening process of the wood. Be very careful when opening the bag so you don’t get a face full of fumes, and don’t do this in the house. Check the color every 8 hours or so to see if it is dark enough. If not, tie it back up. Some pieces may require several days. When you see the appropriate color beginning, stop the process — the wood will darken a little more after it is removed from the bag.
Furniture may have only a small section that needs to be darkened. This could be due to damage that required sanding or a bleach spill. The small area can be darkened with ammonia directly, applied with a small brush. Several applications may be needed because the ammonia evaporates when not in the closed bag. If the process is going too slowly, plastic wrap can be put over the ammonia to prevent evaporation.
Some, not all, furniture in lighter wood types may not have enough tannin to turn dark from the ammonia. These would include birch, maple, pine, and poplar. Tea contains tannin, and strong brewed tea can be applied with a brush. Wait 24 hours before deciding if the color is right or if another coat is needed.

Restoring Antique Furniture

  • To tighten up wicker seats that have sagged, spray them with water or diluted lemon oil, then set them in the sun to dry. Oil the wicker for protection after it dries thoroughly.
  • To loosen old glue around rungs and joints of tables and chairs you want to repair, apply white vinegar with a small oil can or a small squeeze bottle. Allow the vinegar to work for a while, testing often.
  • Old mirrors with small bare spots can be “re-silvered.” Spray the back with a silver metallic paint meant for cars. Spray a few coats. After the paint is dry, seal it with a clear coat.
  • Use a nail file to sand small areas or tight spots.
  • Restoring antique furniture is not the same as refinishing. Most antiques lose much of their value if the patina is removed, which will happen when the old finish is taken off.
  • Cleaning the old finish is often all that is needed to make old furniture look beautiful, still look antique, and retain its value.
  • Painted antiques are especially devalued, and the shabbier the paint looks, the more value it seems to have. More will be added on restoration later.