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Fine wood furniture, even a valuable antique, does not need to be reserved for special occasions as long as it's treated with care. To ensure it will remain beautiful for years to come, make sure not to place it near heat sources, such as radiators or fireplaces. Wipe up spills immediately; use coasters, place mats, tablecloths, and trivets; place vases on saucers and potted plants on saucers; and affix self-adhesive rubber pads or felt to the bottom of vases or collectibles.
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Scratches and Nicks on Wood
They can't be repaired, but they can be camouflaged. Shoe polish, more opaque than tinted paste wax, offers easy coverage for an overused tabletop or frequently kicked table legs. It's also reversible: If you don't like the way it looks, you can remove it with mineral spirits. Place a small amount of polish in a color that matches the surface you're treating on a soft cloth and rub it into the scratch until it disappears. Permanent color from a lacquer stick is adequate for furniture that won't have another generation of owners, but do not use it on a valuable or an antique.
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Candle Wax on Wood
Scrape it off using a credit card, plastic spatula, or flexible dough scraper (don't use anything made of metal) and buff the excess away with a soft cloth. To harden soft wax (from a fresh drip), place ice cubes in a plastic bag and rest the bag against the wax. The hardened wax can then be scraped away easily using the method above.
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Removing Wax from Upholstery
Remove wax in the same way for durable fabrics like cotton. Let the wax cool on its own or place ice in a resealable plastic bag on top of it. Once firm, scrape off as much wax as you can using your fingernail or the dull edge of a butter knife. If the wax is on a cushion cover that can be removed, take it off and place several layers of damp paper towels on each side of the fabric, ironing over the paper on a low setting. The wax should be absorbed by the towels. Apply a fabric stain remover to eliminate any lingering residue; blot with clean paper towels before laundering.
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Rings Left by Glasses on Wood
A white ring means that moisture or heat has disturbed a wax finish and the spot just needs re-waxing. Rub it with mineral spirits, apply wax, and buff. A ring darker than the wood, however, has permeated the finish and requires professional treatment by a furniture refinisher.
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Steadying a Wobbly Chair
Wine corks can come in handy in the dining room to fix an unsteady chair. Cut a slice of cork horizontally from the top end with a bread knife and secure it to the underside of the troublesome leg with wood glue.