RECOGNISE SURFACE SURFACE

Before you start cleaning or repairing a piece, try to see how the surface has been treated and sealed, but this is not always easy, some hints are usually given by the age of the piece, but earlier renovations or restorations may have replaced the original finish.

Shellac sealing was the first durable finishing treatment to be applied on a large scale, and the previous surface treatment with oil and wax required constant maintenance and was therefore frequently replaced in the 19th century by shellac polishes.

 

TREATMENT

. main characteristic

 The oil underlines the colour of the wood, but if it has not been treated, the wood looks flat and dry and the wood has absorbed the oil completely.

. the test

 Moisten a finger with a little turpentine and apply to a hidden area of the work piece, even if the surface looks dry, an existing oil finish will prevent the wood from becoming darker with turpentine.

 

WAX

. main characteristic

 A good wax surface has a shine like satin, the pores are not completely filled, so the surface is not quite smooth and an old wax finish can appear flat and matt.

. the test

Moisten a finger with turpentine substitute and rub on a hidden area of the piece of furniture, the surface feels sticky and does not stick to the finger.


 

SHELLACK POLITURE

. main characteristic

 A good shellac polish completely fills the pores of the wood and gives a glossy, immaculately closed surface; shellac polishes are often found on pianos (before 1950) and on particularly decorative furniture.

. the test

 Test the surface in an inconspicuous place with methyl alcohol, rub the surface with a damp finger and if it is shellac polish, it will become slowly sticky and soft.

 

SPRAYED COATING

. main characteristic

 Spray paint is considerably harder than shellac and is usually sprayed on unpickled wood, the lacquer can naturally cover the grain and gives the yellow piece uniform gloss and colour, although the surface is usually highly glossy, although some lacquers may also appear matt.

. the test

If the surface is cracked, the untreated wood underneath will reveal and hard old varnish tends to break.

 

SURFACE REFRESHING

Old furniture and other wooden objects need to be cleaned thoroughly over time without having to resort to pickling, and it is often worthwhile to keep the original surface, especially if it has a beautiful patina that cannot be repaired, which makes the special character of antique furniture unique, but like paintings, the surface becomes dull as time goes by and has to be cleaned over and over again.

It is of course quite easy to simply sand or remove the wood, but this would destroy the surface and thus the character of the whole piece, so always try to preserve, restore and restore rather than remove it, remember that the patina is only on the surface and not deep.

RENEWING THE SURFACE

After cleaning, fill all small cracks or holes with clear or coloured beeswax. Try not to achieve the desired shade on the first mixing, but gradually add the pigments, try to imitate the fine nuances of the colour samples and apply the colours to smaller areas with a brush, to larger areas with a cotton-wool pad, try to achieve a clear, natural shade.

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