Furniture-Care Tips

The Martha Stewart Show, February 2009

Follow these tips from antiques expert Christophe Pourny to keep your furniture in good condition for years to come.

To fix dings, nicks, and scratches on chair legs
Select a shoe polish that matches the piece you are repairing. Place steel wool over mark. Apply wood filler if spot is deep enough to warrant. Apply shoe polish over spot. Buff with a cloth to shine.

To clean the surface of a bureau
Mix 3 parts linseed oil with 1 part turpentine. Pour hot water into a jar and introduce the mixture of turpentine and linseed oil. Let the mixture sit; the turpentine and linseed oil (naturally warmed by the water) will rise to the top. This process activates the ingredients without the danger of heating oils on a flame.

Dip a fine steel wool into the mixture. Then, select a section of your bureau and gently rub with the steel wool, working section by section. Wipe off the residue with a dry, clean rag. Once you have cleaned an entire section, apply pure linseed oil and wipe off with a clean, dry rag. Let dry, and avoid touching the furniture for two days.

To dispose of the rag and steel wool, which are highly flammable, thoroughly soak in water and place in a container or plastic bag before discarding.

To clean difficult drawers
Vacuum the inside of furniture regularly as sawdust builds up and impedes flow. Use a dry bar of soap and rub on the drawer guides and on the bottom of the drawer.

Special Thanks
Special thanks to Christophe Pourny for sharing these tips; for more information, visit christophepourny.com. Plus, check out his technique for making a picture frame using straw marquetry. Special thanks to Maison Gerard for the 1930s straw marquetry table seen on the show. (Straw marquetry by Andre Groult Gilt; wrought iron base by Merceris.) For more innovative ways to tackle household tasks, check out these popular cleaning tips.

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