Questions mid dining room chair cleaning/restoring...

sorrisoFebruary 21, 2009

...and I can't find the cable to connect my camera to the computer to show you the problem.

I'm using mineral spirits, 000 steel wool and a toothbrush to clean older wooden dining room chairs. There is a lot of white hazing after I damp rag the wood. Is that something that needs to be dealt with before I proceed to the 3M Imperial Hand Glaze step?

The other question is about how much damp-ragging is sufficient. There was quite a bit of dirt that came off with the first wipes, I proceeded to a second and then third clean cloth to continue wiping the chair down. The third cloth still has a bit of dirt. I'm almost hearing you shout, "YES" but I'm asking this likely stupid question anyways; should I continue wiping the wood with damp rags until no more whatever it is is coming off? OR does this mean I should go back and do more with the steel wool and mineral spirits? If it matters, the chairs used to be in a house with smokers.

I hope I've made myself reasonably understood, given the lack of pictures. Thanks for your help.

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

The wet rag is what's causing the bloom.....quit that and put the mineral spirits on a rag and wipe with that.
Mineral spirits will remove that tobacco smoke crud better than water.
Linda C

    Bookmark   February 21, 2009 at 4:30PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thank you Linda C. My husband's just gone to Lowe's to get me better gloves, I melted my cheapo ones yesterday :) So you think the crud is likely smoke too?

Since I can't post my own pictures, would you peek at valinsv's post, linked below, because her before pictures (scrolling down, they are 8-10) look like where I am with my chairs without the white. I have read negative comments from the professionals about Restore-A-Finish and don't plan to use it. What step would you take next?

I had been planning, as I mentioned in my initial post, to use glazing compound next but is that going to even out the appearance of the--finish isn't the right word--stain/color? I'm not saying this looks like in some places that it's bare wood and in others it isn't.

Suggestions please and thank you!

Linda Z.

Here is a link that might be useful: finish on chairs

    Bookmark   February 22, 2009 at 9:56AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Just what are the processes you are trying to do?

The white bloom can be one of several things.
- Build up of wax
- Degraded finish due to chronic exposure to body oils
- Surface goo

The basic premise of cleaning is that you need to use the right cleaner for the soil, broadly into two classes:
- things that dissolve in water (polar substances that dissolve in polar solvents (water, the "universal solvent") this includes most foods, body fluids, and general soil
- things that don't dissolve in water (non-polar substances), such as waxes, grease, etc. For these, mineral spirits or naphtha is the solvent of choice.

In addition there are a number of selective cleaners such as alcohols and low or high pH cleaners (acids and alkalines).

Trying to do anything without removing the soil is likely to give bad results.

I use a highly alkaline cleaner to remove smoke residue -- it removes stuff that Dawn and water, Murphy's Oil Soap, and naphtha have barely touched.

If the finish is degraded, a thorough cleaning is likely to take you back to bare wood, where you need to restore the finish in some way.

I don't know your original post, but I use the 3M hand glaze to rub out high gloss finishes as the penultimate step of many.

Here is a link that might be useful: Saving the finish

    Bookmark   February 22, 2009 at 10:46AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

What I meant by "original post" was my initial query here. My intent was to make the chairs look nice like valinsv did.

I'm feeling kind of stupid right about now. I did a considerable amount of reading here and referred to your articles, bobsmyuncle, and then resorted to what seemed like the path of least resistance in kind-of following what valinsv did but trying to avoid the RAF. I thought I was going to be okay. Obviously not.

After re-reading "Saving the Finish" I have now tried denatured alcohol and lacquer thinner to determine the finish. I initially put a bit on the inside of opposite back legs and no reaction. This wood is very smooth in appearance. On the denatured side, I can see where I put it, it's darker; on the thinner side, can't tell. Looking at the chairs closely I see what appears to be alligatoring--if I'm using that term correctly--on the back side of the legs toward the top of the chair (it's one long piece). That definitely got sticky with the denatured alcohol.

Before I got your response, bobsmyuncle, I did another chair and at the 000 steel wool and mineral spirits stage got lots of white which brushes away with my finger (not steel wool residue).

So, before I start chair number three, do I wash with Dawn or get the highly alkaline cleaner (before the snowstorm starts!). Would you give me a brand name for the highly alkaline cleaner?

You and Linda C. are so patient with people like me and our foibles. I am so pleased to have this resource, thank you. If I'm stilling missing something, please let me know.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2009 at 11:38AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Sorry, but my favorite alkaline cleaner just got discontinued. I bought 3 cases before they ran out of inventory. Formula 409 has the same primary ingredients, but I'm not sure if the proportions are the same.

One issue is that aged lacquer will also soften with alcohol, as does shellac. Generally speaking, factories used either shellac or lacquer between WWI and WWII, and mostly lacquer since then. All bets are off if someone refinished it along the way.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2009 at 1:21PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I have completely removed an old finhish with 409...
If that's what you want to do....go for it.
But I still say that mineral spirits removes a lot of smoke gunk without taking any ( or much!) of the finish with it.
Mineral spirits may not do all you want it to....b ut it won't do more than you want.
Up to you to decide.
Linda C

    Bookmark   February 24, 2009 at 8:05PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Here's a (actually a couple of minutes into it) of a cleaning job for a chair that had black filth on it, and the

In the middle it was down to bare wood. But I don't think I removed any finish, I removed the goo that used to be finish.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2009 at 10:21PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I went to the 409 step today with one chair. Assuming I ever can get the brown crud completely gone, should I then wash the chair in either plain warm water or water with Dawn?

Next question: if the finish is shellac (given that at least part of the finish did react to the denatured alcohol) and if it's off in some places and on in others, can another coat of shellac be applied without removing all of the finish?

I do seem to recall that this set had been sent out to be "refinished" when owned by my friend (20 years ago) and have a bad feeling that a bad job was done given the way the wood looks close up.

Still can't find the cable to connect the camera to the computer, but I do have the pictures for future reference.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2009 at 2:33PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Another question...I'm assuming that the stuff I'm cleaning off is dirt and smoke and whatever but if I'm taking off the finish with the 409 would that result in the same tobacco brown gook on my clean rags?

    Bookmark   March 7, 2009 at 3:03PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Yes, I would rinse the parts you've done with 409 with water or Dawn & water to neutralize the 409.

Shellac sticks to most anything and most anything sticks to shellac. So yes, you can use it on top of anything that's cleaned.

Denatured alcohol will also soften lacquer that is aged. It would seem unlikely that a 20 year ago refinish was shellac only, but it's possible. (The reason I say this is that if you know enough to use shellac, you probably know enough to do a good job. But you never know what a consumer comes home from the hardware store with.)

It is hard to say what you are pulling off that is brown. A lot of factory furniture has a "toner" on it -- lacquer with colorant in it. Again, if someone knows enough to refinish with a toner, they probably know enough to do a good job. The big exception to this (in my opinion) is Polyshades and its like, quite possibly the worst "finish" one can use.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2009 at 3:44PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Well, now that the chair has dried, I can tell you that a lot/most of the color is gone! I guess I can safely say that I don't need to worry about the finish anymore. I can see a few places, crevices that will need a bit more work but now I have a blank canvas.

I'm okay with this because if I'd used something else I would have had to wait until the weather was better and when/if that should ever happen I'll be wanting to work on other projects.

If I don't find my cable soon I'll purchase another because I'll be having more questions when I hit the next step.

Thanks for all the help,

    Bookmark   March 8, 2009 at 7:57AM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Wood working plans
I'm sure most here heard of Teds woodworking plans....
What is this wood? (Want to match)
When we bought our house we had the first floor floors...
species of window sill/molding?
I think this is my favorite window pic. Any idea what...
Refinishing bedroom furniture
Hi everyone! Need advise please. We refinished a computer...
What sealer for reclaimed redwood deck?
We have old growth redwood from a water tank that DH...
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™