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Re: Cleaning years of dirt

Posted By: Roger DeMuth <fero@sbcglobal.net> (adsl-68-72-222-236.dsl.akrnoh.ameritech.net)
Date: 3/3/5 19:21

In Response To: Cleaning years of dirt (A Cassell)

A, Sorry but no first name. there are several methods of cleaning and you might end up using them all! If they are as bad as you describe you should start by going to Sam's Club and buying a 12 pack of paper towels. If the dirt just smears, you will need a lot of them! I assume you have already given them a good dusting so let's take it from there. First step I would do is mineral spirits, ie. paint thinner. This will remove a lot of the old grease. The reason for the 12 pack is that you might take one swipe and wipe out the papper towel. Follow with TSP - trisodium phosphate, available at home centers. The trick with TSP is not how HARD you rub but how LONG, and keep changing towels (remember you have 12 rolls). If it never had a finish, by now it will look cleaner but pretty nasty. If the surface is rough I would use 3M synthetic steel wool now to smooth out the surface (available at wood working stores like Woodcraft.com). You may also want to do a further cleaning with MInwax wood cleaner. Keep cleaning until you don't get much dirt anymore. By now I will assume you ahve gone through half that 12 pack of towels!

Now it time to test if there is a finish and it doesn't sound like there will be. Pick an out of the way spot and rub with rubbing alcohol. If the finish is shellac that will remove it. Same goes for lacquer thinner and lacquer. If there is no finish originally one of those might make a difference in how it looks, and if it does keep applying until you get a good look at the grain.

Once it is clean with all the above and you decide it has no original finish I would suggest a couple of coats of tung or danish oil. Another way to go would be to apply just wax in several coats, buffing the wax out between coats with 0000 steel wool.

It sounds like a lot of work and it is but I would love the challenge of something like that. You could end up with a really mellow piece of furniture. I am lookin forward to what the other guys suggest because I learn from them too sometimes.

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