Just bought this house and want to clean up all the non-painted wood work. Some of it is worse than others but I do not want to paint anything over it, just make it beautiful. What steps do I take?
Saw your butler's pantry in Kitchens. I love this type of woodwork, have it in my house which used to be a school but "houseified" in the 1940's. I use Murphy's Oil Soap or just plain water to wipe the woodwork down. The only sad part is when it comes to installing new woodwork and trim in other parts of the house, matching that wonderful warm color of shellac or varnish is virtually impossible.
Thanks, I will try that first. Certain areas like around the door knobs have 100 years of grime! LOL
"I use Murphy's Oil Soap or just plain water to wipe the woodwork down."
Neither is actually very kind to wood (especially if the
finish is shellac).
A wipe down with deodorized paint thinner (and plenty of clean paper towels) is more effective and less damaging to any finish present.
Fold a paper towel up, wet it with paint thinner, wipe it on the surface, then after about 10 seconds take another clean paper towel folded up and wipe off the thinner.
Keep wiping with a new area of clean towel till nothing else appears on eh towel.
If is is still sticky or dirty, use the wet towel again and repeat.
Paint thinner is flammable, so make sure you have good ventilation.
Wet the towels with water before squeezing them less than dripping wet and throw them in the trash can.
I've actually had really good luck with those 'magic erasers' and simple soapy water, they will take an amazing amount of crud off...
if there's an accumulation, you can wrap a wet rag over it, let it sit for 10 minutes or so, and then scrape the worst of it off with a paint scraper (ok, I used an old fashioned kitchen spatula, they're springy enough not to gouge the wood)
The other thing that is quite useful, using water again though, is those new E-cloths or other brands of microfibre cleaning cloths. Maybe after you've done a once-over with a normal cotton rag, which a person usually has more of...
I don't think I have ever worked with a shellac finish, but generally I'm not afraid of using water on wood, especially finished wood. Try in an inconspicuous spot, as they always say...
deodorized paint thinner
What's that? Never heard of it.
"wrap a wet rag over it, let it sit for 10 minutes or so, and then scrape the worst of it off with a paint scraper"
If the finish is shellac that is going to wreck it.
intact varnish (no cracks or defects) might survive.
Deodorized paint thinner is chemically pretty much the same as paint thinner 9AKA 'Stoddard solvent') but the aromatics have been removed to reduce the smell even further.
Thanks, did'nt know that existed
I use Odorless Mineral Spirits. It's about the same thing, isn't it?
Exactly the same thing.
If the paint thinner cleaning is successful (or naphtha, which is what I would usually turn to), you will need to get rid of a film or haze, which is a perfect job for paste wax like Johnsons or Butchers.
Naphtha often evaporates so quickly it does not have enough time to soften heavy gunk.
In the past I have used a mixture of equal parts paint thinner, boiled linseed oil and white vinegar. If the old dirt is really bad, with the finest steel wool (0000?)I look forward to trying the deodorized thinner next time.