Thursday, July 28, 2011

Natural Life Article Footnotes - Furniture refinishing

The August column (my 13th!) is about refinishing old wood furniture. As I say in my article, I've done quite a lot of this over the years mostly in theater, mostly using ordinary acrylic paints and a few other methods.

Just to reiterate from the article: the recipe for furniture wax will go moldy - quickly if it is not refrigerated and eventually even in the fridge. If you are finding that it is too hard to use at room temperature, or to save time when you first get it out of the fridge, set the container in a hot water bath for a few minutes, or microwave in 15 second increments.

You can also lessen the proportion of wax in your blend. I'm considering a coconut oil/jojoba blend that would need very little wax, since coconut oil is almost solid itself - for really special furniture (but not valuable antiques! Please remember my disclaimer.) Coconut oil is not cheap, but it sure is good. Stay tuned.

Online some folks have other recipes for furniture polish that are liquid like this one at DIY Life, and this one at Care 2 which recommends some alternative oils to olive. It's wonderful how the oils that seem best for our skin also seem to work best for furniture.

My painted stool is looking a little faded now (see above). I think I should have paid more attention to sealing the finish, especially since I was using translucent methods (vinegar food coloring wash, and some translucent metallic paint). But I'm still happy with it. It was so dry and sad after having sat outside in the weather for who knows how long, that the wood just sucks up any application of polish or wax. Simple as it is, I still enjoy seeing at it in use in my living room every day.

Here's a link to the Google Image search for Gypsy Painted Caravans. Other than the unlikely picture of Ron Wood in the group, you'll get the idea at once.

Shabby Chic shows a lot of whitewashing.
Here's a blog post about using candle wax instead of petroleum jelly as a resist for creating a worn finish.

There is quite a lot on the web about distressing or antiquing furniture, but it usually starts with oil based paints and polyurethane varnishes, not the artist's paints that I was using. In looking for commercial paints please continue to consider low or no VOC brands (long list of links) such as:
Benjamin Moore
Ecos Organic Paints
Mythic Non-Toxic Paint
Also check out the ads in your issue of Natural Life for our wonderful suppliers.

If you are sanding your wood furniture, especially if it is older and has an unknown finish, please be sure to do it outside and consider a proper dust mask. Remember that fine wood dust is an irritant and a known carcinogen.

I still like using shoe polish, the "paste" kind, despite the warnings on the website. They are concerned that the wood will change color - but hey that's exactly what I want it to do! One of the reasons I like it for aging purposes is because you only need a tiny amount. One container will last for years. But there are some strong chemicals therein including naptha, lanolin and turpentine. I recommend gloves to avoid staining.

Here's a recipe for home made shoe polish - non-coloring, and rather familiar.

And don't forget the call for your materials in the article! I'm hoping for some really difficult and challenging boggles.

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