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Expert's Corner — furniture-care

TIP: Understanding Furniture Care Products

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TIP: Understanding Furniture Care Products

Making a decision which furniture care product to use or recommend can seem impossibly confusing if you listen to advertising or read labels. But if you separate the products into four categories for what they do, they are understandable, and you can make an intelligent choice. The four categories are clear, emulsion (milky white), silicone and wax. A few examples of each are shown, left to right, in the accompanying picture. Clear polishes are usually packaged in clear plastic containers and are based on petroleum distillates such as mineral spirits or, sometimes, citrus oils. They clean grease and remove wax,...

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The Beauty of Waterborne Finishes

Charles Neil furniture furniture-care lacquers solvent solvents the finishing store varnishes woodfinishing woodworking

It’s a rare finishing class that I don’t get someone who has been a die-hard user of solvents, such as lacquer, conversion varnish and the like, who is reluctant to try waterborne. There is certainly nothing wrong with those finishes, after all they have been around for years and have stood the test of time. Waterborne finishes are the new kid on the block, right? Well sort of. Ever used latex paint, either interior or exterior? Well, that is basically a waterborne finish and it too has stood the test of time. Now, thanks to some creative chemistry we have...

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TIP: Murphy's Oil Soap

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During my career refinishing furniture, Murphy’s Oil Soap has morphed from a regionally-available natural soap made with potassium hydroxide (similar to lye) and vegetable oil to a nationally-available furniture-care product. I watched this transformation happen and find the story fascinating. I find it fascinating because furniture and woodwork don’t get dirty very often and washing them with soap and water when they aren’t dirty can only cause problems. Water gets under a finish through cracks and splits and causes the finish to peel. Everyone knows this at some level (just look at the peeling paint on building exteriors) so how...

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TIP: Caring for Crazed Finishes

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TIP: Caring for Crazed Finishes

Old crazed finishes are very fragile. You can reduce potential damage to these finishes with slick furniture polish or paste wax. But as you can see in the picture, liquid furniture polish (left) highlights the crazing and makes it look worse, while paste wax (right) adds a little shine and scratch resistance without highlighting the crazing. So paste wax is the better furniture-care product for crazed surfaces. (There is a small area in the middle with nothing on it.)

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