Antique Care

Water Marks & Rings

Water damage to your finish will appear in one of two ways.

You will see either a cloudy white area or a darker area.

If the area has turned darker, that the water or moisture has penetrated the finish and has touched the wood. The only way to remove that darker mark is to strip off the existing finish and treat the darker mark with axcolic acid to remove the mark and then vinegar to neutralize the mark.

If the water damaged area has turned cloudy and white, the moisture has been trapped in the finish. The moisture can be removed by rubbing the area with alcohol. You can use denatured alcohol, rubbing alcohol or an industrial alcohol you buy at a hardware store.

Before trying to remove the mark, make sure the alcohol does not melt or strip your finish, so rub the alcohol on the side or back of the piece where you will not see it and see if the finish is not harmed. Using a white cotton cloth, dampen the cloth with the alcohol. Rub the water mark side to side going in the direction of the grain. I

f the water mark disappears you may be left with a little hazy area which is just some traces of wax or oil. Rub down and dry off the piece with lemon oil. You can buy lemon oil at our location in Stamford, CT.

If the water mark does not disappear, than try to heat the area with a hair drier. If that does not work than the piece would have to be stripped and refinished.

Wax Build Up

Does your table top feel sticky?

Does it have an irregular sheen?

There may be a build up of wax on the top. With a little pressure, use your fingers to draw circles on the top of your furniture. If you see traces of the circles you drew, you may have a wax build up.

This can be removed using a mild solvent like Mineral Spirits or Naptha.

Using a clean cotton cloth, dampen the cloth with the mineral spirits or Naptha and rub the top going side to side with the grain. Turn the rag over when it starts to get dirty so that you don’t spread the wax over the top. Repeat the procedure until the rag is clean.

Test your top when it is dried to make sure you don’t see the traces of wax anymore. Once the wax is removed, you can either wax it again or rub the top down with lemon oil. This will bring back a clear sheen. If your existing finish is worn, the sheen may look duller in the worn areas.

Lemon Oil or Wax

We are often asked “should we use lemon oil on or furniture or wax to take care of it?”

Both are fine to use.

If you use a wax, than I would recommend that you wax the furniture once or twice a year. You have to watch the amount of wax to make sure it does not build up. Too much wax will eventually get gummy, dirty or sticky.

If that happens, you must remove the wax and start waxing it again.

If you lemon oil your furniture, we recommend that you lemon oil your furniture 2 to 4 times a year. You can never over-oil your furniture because most of what you put on dries off unless your existing finish is worn and the wood is showing.

Do not lemon oil your furniture if the wood is worn an exposed. This may cause problems when you have the piece refinished.

Wood Worm & Wood Boring Bugs

Are you finding small piles of dust under or in your furniture? It could be that there is activity by one of the wood boring creatures.

This might surprise you, but newer pieces are more likely to have the bugs compared to the antique pieces.

If you were able to see a cross section of a of wood from an early 18 to 19 century piece of furniture, you will notice many tiny tube like tunnels boring through the wood in all directions. It looks like old bone marrow.

The wood boring bugs survive on the moisture that is in the wood, they eat it and move on. Their waste products are left behind.

When the wood is older and drier, there is no longer any moisture and the bugs are not able to survive off it and die. You may still notice dust piles on the floor and think there alive.

It doesn’t take much to pop out the dust. Some one walking across the floor, a draft through the home. When the front door opens, a draft of air is pulled through the home.

An amazing amount of dust can become trapped in your furniture. At Raphael’s, we use 100 pounds of air pressure to blow pest waste out of your piece.

At home, you can use an air compressor careful blow air on and around the piece in ever area. Be careful not to blow off any veneer or delicate pieces. Then, using paste wax, wax your furniture. Apply pressure everywhere you notice worm holes to clog and close them up. If it is a chest of drawers, you’ll have to do all the drawer cases around the out side and bottoms.

If you are afraid that the wood worms are alive, winter is the best time to kill them.

In the past you could have your furniture treated with a gas that would kill them. The gas has been banned and no longer available to the commercial market.

At Raphael’s we experimented and found a more effective way to kill them. Exposure to freezing temperatures for 24 hours will kill anything living in there. Be sure to wrap your furniture in moving blankets to protect the finish. Leave the furniture in an unheated garage or back porch, anywhere where it will be protected from the elements. Remove the blankets after 24 hours and you are done.