I love wood furniture. I love the warm glow of chestnut wood, the vibrant hue of mahogany, and the rich smoothness of oak. I even adore the natural light look of pine wood with only a clear protective coat. What I do not like is the work and maintenance that can go into maintaining and repairing wood furniture and finishes. Luckily for me, there are a number of simple remedies that you can try first to restore the luster and vibrancy to your wood furniture prior to breaking out the harsh chemical stain removers or the sanding paper. I’ve tried all of these over the years and found each one to be easy to do, and very effective.
Tip # 1: Mineral Spirits Help You See
Let’s say you have a dingy old chair- it’s faded so much that you’re not even sure if it’s wood or not. It’s a light brown or even gray in color, and you are thinking about throwing in the towel before you even begin. Not so fast. Sometimes the best way to start is to see what you really have. Take a rag and wipe some mineral spirits on the surface. What this does is remove the excess dust, grime and stains that may be on the wood furniture. Be sure to use only enough to dampen the rag slightly since a little bit goes a long way. Who knows? Your dingy chair might just need a little cleaning to look brand new.
Tip # 2: Moisturize!!
It’s important to remember that wood use to be a living thing- and living things need water. I’m not suggesting that you dump a bucket of water on your grandma’s cherry card table, however. What I am suggesting is that after a good cleaning your next step should be to add some moisture to the surfaces. There are plenty of commercial wood conditioners available on the market, but if you want to really go old school there are other options. One option is to mix one part apple cider vinegar and three parts vegetable oil. Mix well and wipe one then wipe off. The oil get’s absorbed into the wood, and the vinegar helps to cut through the excess grease that still may exist. Another option- in cases where a deeper conditioning is needed is to combine beeswax and olive oil over a low heat so that it creates a smooth paste. Then simply rub into the wood, leave on for a few minutes and then rub off and clean accordingly.
Tip # 3: Get Rid of Ugly White Circles with Petroleum Jelly
Ah yes, someone- even perhaps you- left a glass of water on the wood dresser without a coaster and left an ugly white ring. Water vapor from the glass has seeped into the wood finish and left the offending white ring, or perhaps the offending party is the heat from a hot take out meal. Time to break out the sand paper and refinish, right? Not so fast. Try this first. Take some petroleum jelly and smear it over the offending stain. Allow to sit overnight. In the morning, wipe the area down with a mild soap and water. If the oil from the petroleum jelly has done it’s job over night, the wood will be saturated with moisture and that ugly white ring will be faded or completely gone.
Tip # 4: Repair Minor Scratches with a Nice Cuppa
Let’s face it- one of the most prevalent injuries to wood furniture are minor scratches. I’m not taking about those entrenched gouges that can happen, but rather those everyday minor surface scratches from things like keys, pens, or dining utensils. These scratches for the most part are really damage to the stain finish itself. So, really, all you have to do is repair the finish in that little area. One of the easiest, and honestly most tasty way to do this is to brew a pot of black tea. Simply boil some water, add a few tea bags, and allow it to steep until it matches the surface stain. Then pour some tea into a small cup and use a small cotton swab to wipe some of the tea into the scratched area and wipe quickly away. Apply a second or third dab of tea until the scratch becomes unnoticed. Then sit down and enjoy the rest of the tea!
Tip # 5: Fix Those Chips with Nail Polish
No, I’m not saying take your favorite fire engine red nail polish and use it to fix your bedside table. However, if your bedside table has a small nick or gouge in it, a few drops of clear nail polish can be a great way to fill in the small depression. Simply take some clear nail polish, brush it in to the chipped area and carefully wipe the surface to remove any amount above the surface area of the wood. Then allow to dry. The nail polish will harden and fill in the small depression.
These are just a few tips that you can use to make sure your next DIY wood furniture repair project doesn’t break the bank. Do you have any others?