Best way to get dust and grime out of incised woodwork?

jlc102482September 15, 2011

Has anyone found a good way to get dust and grime out of the incised areas of woodwork? I've got an Eastlake sideboard and two pier mirrors that could really use a good cleaning, but I can't get into all the carvings. The edge of a dustcloth or rag doesn't work and even a saturated Q-tip is too big.

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Brush.....I like what's known as a wood workers bench brush.

Here is a link that might be useful: brush

    Bookmark   September 15, 2011 at 1:29PM
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Or a soft toothbruch.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2011 at 1:46PM
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I've used old electric toothbrushes. I also like the Sonic Scrubber sold in hardware stores and BB&B. You can use very soft bristle brush heads up to very stiff.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2011 at 1:49PM
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I used tinted wax and a toothbrush, but buff it with a natural bristle brush, which won't scratch and brings out the highest shine.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2011 at 5:55PM
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Dental picks or needles, bamboo skewers... whatever it takes!

Karin L

    Bookmark   September 15, 2011 at 6:47PM
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Best advice is to do nothing.
If you do, you will destroy the natural aging and patina of the piece. That's precisely what identifies it's age and value.
Eastlake pieces are increasingly more desirable on the market.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2011 at 7:23PM
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Sorry, oboereed, I don't agree. There's a lot of gunk and crap that has nothing to do with "patina" and natural aging of a piece. Cleaning up an aged piece does not automatically devalue that piece.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2011 at 8:43PM
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"Clean" and "destroyed patina" are 2 different things.
Antiques are not meant to be dirty!

    Bookmark   September 15, 2011 at 9:18PM
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Casey, Linda and Annie have given you good advice. Although I would use a mild detergent and water, not copious amounts of water to clean. Tooth brushes work better than anything I've found. Don't use alcohol (it will dissolve shellac finishes). After it is clean you can use Casey's advice to apply wax via toothbrush to prevent drying and dulling from the water. A bench brush (or fox tail brush) might be too large and have too long of bristles to give any meaningful buffing, I'd consider a natural bristle shoe brush. As Karin mentioned, dental instruments are quite useful and I use them quite often, but in this case it is quite easy to damage finish or even the carved or pressed wood, so I'd stick with the toothbrush. I also agree, Dirt and Patina are not the same thing.

    Bookmark   September 16, 2011 at 4:07PM
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A bench brush should be used for weekly or more often dusting....not cleaning old crud!
Don't forget....water will cloud shellac finishes.
I believe mineral spirits are the safest thing to use....won't dissolve any dry finish....also won't dissolve sugar or milk stains either.

    Bookmark   September 16, 2011 at 4:38PM
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She's right, of course, but cloudiness in shellac can be corrected. I'd use thinner or turps to be safe. Linda, obviously, is a messier eater than most.

    Bookmark   September 16, 2011 at 6:25PM
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Maybe it's another post, but I would be interested in knowing how to correct cloudiness in shellac. I think there needs to be a general clean-up/refinish 101 on the antique forum. I for one would be interested. Although I don't do it often, I think I do it pretty well; but have to admit to a few mistakes!
Somehow I don't think LindaC is slobbering sweet tea or coffee onto her antique furniture -- but maybe? At least she knows how to take the stains out, unlike me.

    Bookmark   September 16, 2011 at 7:43PM
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I have kids.....who now have kids of their own.....who drip milk....and lemonade and things I don't know.
I've spent enough time cleaning floors and tables....and even woodwork with mineral spirits based Bruce's Floor cleaner, to know that stray milk drips don't come clean with mineral spirit based cleaners.
And I can tell you how to get tar out of a wool sweater and chewing gum out of long blond hair!

    Bookmark   September 16, 2011 at 10:05PM
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I'm guessing peanut butter is in there somewhere.

    Bookmark   September 16, 2011 at 10:22PM
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OK, first you get some cashew butter...

I have no cult secrets to convey. The safest way to remove blushing, or fogging, due to moisture is by releasing the moisture from the shellac. It's water vapor that's causing the clouding, so get rid of the water vapor. The proper way to do this is to use a french polishing pad and charge it with just alcohol and apply it to the fogged area without dragging finish. As the shellac softens it opens to allow water to escape. Technique, however, is not a trivial part of this.

Now, for the secret society version.

Using an industrial heat-gun, slowly warm the affected area, using Jedi control, and the moisture will evaporate, or at least vacate the finish. This works about 50% of the time for me. Ok, you're all sworn to secrecy.


    Bookmark   September 16, 2011 at 11:17PM
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