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Cleaning an Antique



 
 
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  #11  
Old January 27th 10, 11:48 AM posted to rec.woodworking
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Posts: 5,162
Default Cleaning an Antique

On 26 Jan, 20:54, Sonny wrote:
Someone recently told me a formula for cleaning antiques (the finish
in good shape, but needed good cleaning) is equal parts mineral
spirits, linsed oil, turpentine and water. Applied with steel wool


Apart from the wisdom of applying it, I'm wondering how that mix is
even miscible ? It sounds like a re-hash of the well-known and
infamous "mayonnaise" mix, which toned down the solvents and added
vinegar. It was used for years by some notable organisations, until
they realised it was building up an opaque brown gunk that was hard to
shift properly.

Also apart from the idea of using steel wool at all, using steel wool
wet is an obvious problem. Even dry steel wool on new work is a
problem if it's oak, chestnut or soemthign with tannins, owing to blue-
black stain developing in the future.

As others have said, it's not a good idea and anything that claims to
be "one solution for all finishes" is unlikely to be.
Understand what you have, fix that as it needs, don't put your faith
in magic potions.
Ads
  #12  
Old January 27th 10, 04:07 PM posted to rec.woodworking
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Posts: 4
Default Cleaning an Antique


wrote in message
...
On Jan 26, 2:54 pm, Sonny wrote:
Someone recently told me a formula for cleaning antiques (the finish
in good shape, but needed good cleaning) is equal parts mineral
spirits, linsed oil, turpentine and water. Applied with steel wool and
gently rubbed onto the piece. I was not informed that this is good for
all appications, though it seemed to be implied that it was.

I've never heard of this formula and I sense this formula's chemistry
is questionable.


Sonny - in my business I have done a lot of finishing and
refinishing. That on occasion has included a bit if cleaning and
"leaving it alone" instead of a refinish.

Not to be too blunt, but just about everything is wrong with the
method and cleaner.

NEVER clean with steel wool. You will destroy the polished patina of
the surface at worst, and leave buffed scratches in the finish that
can be seen a mile a way at best.

Steel wool also leaves behind the oil it is treated with to keep from
rusting, potentially fouling your new finish or restoring mix. Worse,
if you use a gunk mixture like you described, it will encapsulate the
fibers into the finish when the linseed oil finally cures.

Clean with a soft rag and warm water first. Jersey cotton first to
see if you can clean satisfactorily with it. If not, step up to a
painter's rag, the ones that look like small hand towels made from
terry cloth.

As for that mix of solvent... ouch! If you use non-natural
turpentine, it is a petroleum product, not unlike the mineral spirits/
thinner. Why bother having two. Best of all, don't use either of
them.

They can melt the waxes, treatments, accumulated dirt etc., that are
on the piece and adhere them to bare spots on your piece. You will
wind up darkening the bare spots by depositing the dissolved
particulates in them. And now of course, you have to clean them.
Additionally, you can actually dissolves some of the older finishes
with either of those two. It won't be like a stripper, but if the
finish is really old and deteriorated, the resins will break down with
almost any petroleum based solvent.

Toss the linseed oil. No matter what anyone tells you, this is not a
restorative finish. The metallic driers in BLO can melt the existing
finish as well. And the oil will certainly darken any bare spots, pin
holes, scuff marks, etc. It will also have the effect of gathering
dust and grime to gather in corners and crannies. It provides almost
no protection (skip the crap about nourishing wood - it's already
dead), and does more harm than good in the long run.

It IS however, a trick that they "antique" furniture guys use to push
their lesser pieces as it can appear to even out the finish in the
short run.

Water?? Why would you mix oil, water, and petroleum? To raise the
grain of the piece?

Water used as a cleaner can cause your finish to blush if it is a
deteriorated lacquer or shellac. With the older finishes, a blush
spray (usually L2 lacquer thinner) will not fix a blush. And if you
have micro cracks in the finish and you use your "cleaner/restorer"
liberally, you may cause the entire surface to blush.

You are at the point of refinishing if that happens.

So, do this:

Get some TSP from the super market or big box hardware. Mix a small
batch of a warm, weak solution. Dip the rag into the solution and
squeeze out all the excess cleaner.

Gently clean the piece with that. Work in small sections, using only
the amount of pressure needed to remove the dirt. In the nooks and
crannies, use a brass bristle brush for the tough stuff, and a "firm"
tooth brush for the rest. Use no more solution or pressure on your
rag or brush than you need.

To finish, wipe down the piece with a clean rag, soaked in warm water
and wrung dry as above. Wipe the piece carefully and change the face
of your cloth frequently. Use a few rags. You are finished when the
rags start coming back from the surface pretty clean.

Don't put any wax on the piece. Commercial carnauba wax is dissolved
with petroleum distillates, and will go into the bare spots, cracks,
tiny holes, etc., and foul the finish later if you need to refinish.
And anything with silicones in it is poison to wood, so no polish
either.

If the piece you started with is in good shape and the finish is just
dirty and not seriously damaged, it is likely the wood will be just
fine with no additional finish on it. Assess the piece as it is after
you clean it, and decide to leave it or refinish it.

If you wind up refinishing after cleaning or later down the road, that
witch's brew you posted will cause you nothing but grief if you use it
on your piece.

There are a lot of good books out there on this subject, and some not
so good. But I would look at a lot of them before I jumped in if
this was a valuable piece.

As always, just my 0.02.

Robert

Robert,
I have a newer table finished using older methods, but I am not sure exactly
what. Supposed to be French Polish, but I can't say for sure. Here is the
problem. The heating pad we used on the table wasn't quite good enough and
the heat from the dish left a slight grey on the finish you can see if you
look at the table from certain angles. A turpentine and linseed oil
mixture was suggested but now I don't think I want to try it. Any ideas on
how to get out? It is not that bad and probably can live with it the way it
is and I would hate to make it worse

Mike


  #13  
Old January 27th 10, 06:59 PM posted to rec.woodworking
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Posts: 2,683
Default Cleaning an Antique

On Jan 27, 9:07 am, "Mike" wrote:

Robert,
I have a newer table finished using older methods, but I am not sure exactly
what. Supposed to be French Polish, but I can't say for sure. Here is the
problem. The heating pad we used on the table wasn't quite good enough and
the heat from the dish left a slight grey on the finish you can see if you
look at the table from certain angles.


Mike - unless it is an honest to Pete custom piece, it won't be a real
French Polish finish. FP is a long, painstaking process that takes a
lot of time to do, and quite a while to master. You won't find it on
a mass produced piece (or anything I make or finish either!!).

Probably what you have is a FP "style" of finish if it is a
manufactured piece. That means it is one of the many members of the
quick dry lacquer family spray finishes.

The finish can be air cured (doubtful), UV cured (most likely), or
heat cured (depends on the age).

The finishes are applied, then probably buffed out after curing. Most
commonly a rouge concoction is used on a large lamb's wheel buffer to
"polish" (French? dunno.... maybe the guy drinks a latte when
working) the finish out enabling them to claim a hand or "French
style" of polish/finish.

Regardless, any of the cured finishes are almost impossible to repair
satisfactorily. They are very hard, solvent and water resistant, and
are applied with no consideration for future repairs. When these
finishes are applied properly, what you wind up with is a cured resin
product that little more than a high performance plastic film.
Adhesion is always a problem when trying to repair them as they are
purpose made to resist things sticking to them.

The discoloration from the heat is the downside to these finishes -
most are very susceptible to heat. The discoloration indicates you
have damaged the finish, so not a likely candidate for repair. And
even if it could be repaired, you would be tasked with trying to match
the color as well. Most colors are proprietary to the manufacturer,
and are mixed in the finish. Unless you are experienced in toning
finishes (!!) I would let this project go.

As far as putting anything on it, I wouldn't. If you have damaged the
surface and the graying is actually million tiny cracks caused by the
heat, anything you put on this area will seep in those cracks and
color/discolor your wood. You can easily wind up a worse problem by
trying to fix it.

If it is still smooth to the touch in the damaged area, and you can
clean it with the rest of table with no problems, my thoughts would be
to leave this one alone until you are ready for a refinishing project.

Robert
  #14  
Old January 27th 10, 09:41 PM posted to rec.woodworking
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Posts: 381
Default Cleaning an Antique

Bravo again...

You are gonna win the Finishing Academy Award again
this year...

wrote:

So, do this:

Get some TSP from the super market or big box hardware.

  #15  
Old January 27th 10, 09:42 PM posted to rec.woodworking
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Posts: 4
Default Cleaning an Antique


wrote in message
...
On Jan 27, 9:07 am, "Mike" wrote:

Robert,
I have a newer table finished using older methods, but I am not sure
exactly
what. Supposed to be French Polish, but I can't say for sure. Here is
the
problem. The heating pad we used on the table wasn't quite good enough
and
the heat from the dish left a slight grey on the finish you can see if
you
look at the table from certain angles.


Mike - unless it is an honest to Pete custom piece, it won't be a real
French Polish finish. FP is a long, painstaking process that takes a
lot of time to do, and quite a while to master. You won't find it on
a mass produced piece (or anything I make or finish either!!).

Probably what you have is a FP "style" of finish if it is a
manufactured piece. That means it is one of the many members of the
quick dry lacquer family spray finishes.

The finish can be air cured (doubtful), UV cured (most likely), or
heat cured (depends on the age).

The finishes are applied, then probably buffed out after curing. Most
commonly a rouge concoction is used on a large lamb's wheel buffer to
"polish" (French? dunno.... maybe the guy drinks a latte when
working) the finish out enabling them to claim a hand or "French
style" of polish/finish.

Regardless, any of the cured finishes are almost impossible to repair
satisfactorily. They are very hard, solvent and water resistant, and
are applied with no consideration for future repairs. When these
finishes are applied properly, what you wind up with is a cured resin
product that little more than a high performance plastic film.
Adhesion is always a problem when trying to repair them as they are
purpose made to resist things sticking to them.

The discoloration from the heat is the downside to these finishes -
most are very susceptible to heat. The discoloration indicates you
have damaged the finish, so not a likely candidate for repair. And
even if it could be repaired, you would be tasked with trying to match
the color as well. Most colors are proprietary to the manufacturer,
and are mixed in the finish. Unless you are experienced in toning
finishes (!!) I would let this project go.

As far as putting anything on it, I wouldn't. If you have damaged the
surface and the graying is actually million tiny cracks caused by the
heat, anything you put on this area will seep in those cracks and
color/discolor your wood. You can easily wind up a worse problem by
trying to fix it.

If it is still smooth to the touch in the damaged area, and you can
clean it with the rest of table with no problems, my thoughts would be
to leave this one alone until you are ready for a refinishing project.

Robert


Robert,
Thank you very much. I will follow you recommendation. The damage is on
one of the leaves and is not that noticeable so I am going to leave well
enough alone and get better heat pads!
Mike


  #16  
Old January 28th 10, 05:29 AM posted to rec.woodworking
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 1,123
Default Cleaning an Antique

On Jan 27, 4:46*am, "
wrote:
On Jan 26, 11:54 pm, Father Haskell wrote:

Lots of interesting points there.


I take it you don't like Murphy's oil soap?


Not one bit. *It is still soap of unknown makeup. *


Oil and an alkali.

So what does it
leave behind after rinsing?


A Murphy's oil soap smell, last I recall.

I never use anything that

- nourishes (baloney!)
- protects (leaves behind some kind of residue
- deep cleans (probably has some unknown solvents in it)
- restores (how in the hell is that supposed to work? *How do you
restore a finish if you don't put more on? If you can find a way to
"restore" brittle, crumbling resins left behind on an antique, you
will be a millionaire overnight!)


You're not an ad writer, obviously. ;-)

Most finish "restoring" recipes are not much more than a heavy solvent
based cleaner with a bit of toner and resin in it. *What they do is
melt the remaining finish in with new resins and leave behind a
blended mess.


You forgot the fragrance, to make that mess smell
like fresh lemons.

This stuff is OK for the furniture in the kid's room, old stuff you
don't care about, or the utility stuff going off to college.

It is in no way a restorer of any sort.

Robert


  #17  
Old January 28th 10, 05:33 AM posted to rec.woodworking
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Posts: 1,123
Default Cleaning an Antique

On Jan 27, 5:48*am, Andy Dingley wrote:
On 26 Jan, 20:54, Sonny wrote:

Someone recently told me a formula for cleaning antiques (the finish
in good shape, but needed good cleaning) is equal parts mineral
spirits, linsed oil, turpentine and water. Applied with steel wool


Apart from the wisdom of applying it, I'm wondering how that mix is
even miscible ? *It sounds like a re-hash of the well-known and
infamous "mayonnaise" mix, which toned down the solvents and added
vinegar. It was used for years by some notable organisations,


Most notably the Winterthur Museum, from which it
gets its name.

until
they realised it was building up an opaque brown gunk that was hard to
shift properly.

Also apart from the idea of using steel wool at all, using steel wool
wet is an obvious problem. Even dry steel wool on new work is a
problem if it's oak, chestnut or soemthign with tannins, owing to blue-
black stain developing in the future.

As others have said, it's not a good idea and anything that claims to
be "one solution for all finishes" is unlikely to be.
Understand what you have, fix that as it needs, don't put your faith
in magic potions.


  #18  
Old January 29th 10, 05:10 PM posted to rec.woodworking
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 1,601
Default Cleaning an Antique

On Tue, 26 Jan 2010 12:54:07 -0800 (PST), Sonny
wrote:

Someone recently told me a formula for cleaning antiques (the finish
in good shape, but needed good cleaning) is equal parts mineral
spirits, linsed oil, turpentine and water. Applied with steel wool and
gently rubbed onto the piece. I was not informed that this is good for
all appications, though it seemed to be implied that it was.

I've never heard of this formula and I sense this formula's chemistry
is questionable. It wouldn't be expensive or difficult to test it, but
I'm not confident this mixture will properly clean a dirty or
moderately dirty antique.

I already have good cleaning techniques, but I'm always willing to
learn a new one. This one may be better for certain applications, than
the one(s) I use.

Opinions, comments?

Sonny




Do you watch the Antique Road Show? I saw a piece of furniture
valued at $18,000, but if the owner had not destroyed the original
patina by cleaning the value would be doubled. Water-based products
are best avoided on any wood. If you want to be safe, take it to a
professional. Not knowing about the finish is another concern and by
trying different products and methods you will certainly do some
damage.
 




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