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Furniture Care with David

Martha Stewart Living Television

An ebeniste's knowledge can be applied to far simpler tasks than the restoration of beautiful inlaid antiques. David Linker has a few tips for keeping your own furniture in good condition and at its most attractive. If a piece is dirty to the point at which dusting won't suffice, it can be washed with a weak solution of detergent and water: Add one part detergent to 10 parts water. Don't apply oils, varnishes, solvents, or spray cleaners to the surface of a piece of fine furniture. Any one of these commonly used furniture-care products can damage the finish.

The wax that is applied to furniture seeps into and adheres to the pores of the wood. For the furniture to truly shine, all the pores need to be filled. The traditional method, which can be performed at home, is to coat the surface with pure beeswax. This is a somewhat arduous task, but it imparts a truly beautiful shine. After the wax is applied, the wood is rubbed with a cork, which heats the wax so it seeps deeper into the wood surface.

You can also try using Butcher's Wax, but it's essential to remember not to let the wax dry too much. After applying the Butcher's Wax, brush the piece of furniture to force the wax into the pores. David has acquired a wide selection of brushes to work with, from a horse brush to one made from goose quills. It isn't necessary to wax very often; applying a coat of wax once a year should be sufficient.

Apart from yearly waxing, fine furniture doesn't ask for much more cleaning than regular dusting. This should be done with a feather duster, which will neither damage the finish of a piece nor knock inlaid decorations loose. If a piece does take on a dull luster, brush the furniture to warm the wax and return its shine.

Don't keep fine furniture near heaters, stoves, or the sun. Excessive heat upsets the balance of water in wood, and direct sunlight can bleach the color. If the paint, veneer, or marquetry of a piece begins to flake off or come loose, do not dust it; take it to a professional right away to prevent more extensive damage. Professionals should also be called in any time a piece of fine furniture needs a repair. If a fragment of wood or finish comes off the piece, put it into an envelope, and label it as precisely as possible to aid the craftsman in making the repairs.

Special Thanks
David Linker