Furniture can be like wine. As it ages becomes more beautiful and valuable. But unlike wine, if you want to enjoy antique furniture, you should most often have more patience and put some more effort to maintain it.
In other words, you should start to recondition it.
Clean Carefully the Wood Surface
The first thing you need to do is to clean the surface of the furniture. There are two ways to do this:
a) You can prepare a solution of warm water (3 liters), turpentine (2 tsp) and linseed oil (2 tsp)l.
b) Another way to clean your wood furniture is to wash the surface with a solution composed of 80 percent water and about 20 percent ammonia.
Depending of the wood essence, your furniture may fade or darken. If your furniture is not too scratched, these superficial cleaning procedures may be sufficient to give the wood a satisfactory look.
The Sanding Technique
For deteriorated furniture but still standing satisfactory “on its own feet” there is a hope – and its name is abrasive technique. The first thing you should know is that through sanding you can change the look of the wood. So, once you started sanding you cannot stop until the entire surface of the wood is finished, even if you want to recondition only some of parts of your furniture.
For sanding, you can use a piece of sandpaper or a sanding machine. Choose first a coarse grading for a depth sanding and then a smaller one to create a smooth surface. However, if the furniture piece is covered with an old thick lacquer layer, you should apply a varnish remover before you grab the sander. Then apply a new coat of varnish or wax.
If you are not interested in the natural appearance of wood, you can apply a special paint for wood instead of varnish. The main advantage is that you can choose any color you want and integrate it more harmonious your piece of furniture in the overall look of the room.
The Charm of Old Furniture (video)
Protect the Wood
Wooden furniture should be carefully groomed. Solid wood as other wood-based materials are hygroscopic i.e. absorbs moisture. For this reason wood furniture should not be kept in a humid environment. In the presence of humidity, wood swells and changes its sizes.
That does not mean a too dry atmosphere is good. In such an atmosphere, the wood shrinks and changes its size again.
It is recommended that the ambient temperature to be 60-77 degrees Fahrenheit (15-25 degrees Celsius) and humidity to be between 40 and 60 percent.