Feeding your wood furniture

Do you "feed" your wood furniture?


The idea that wood needs to be “fed” to keep it from drying out is a myth generated by the manufacturers who want you to buy their products.  We are talking about what to do to take care of your precious wood heirloom pieces.  Many of my customers ask me what kind of maintenance is required to keep their fine wood pieces in good shape.

The short answer is: Nothing.  The longer answer is: It depends.

First, if there is no damage, regardless of the type of finish, just wipe it clean with a little furniture polish.  Use just a little to avoid building up a waxy film.  If this yields a look that is too shiny, wipe on a mixture of mineral oil that has been cut with 50% mineral spirits and then wipe it dry with a clean cloth.  If this is still too shiny rub the wood with 0000 grade steel wool and a little of the mineral oil mixture.  Then again wipe it dry with a clean cloth.

Second, if there is some wear, such as scuffing of foot rests on chairs, rub the scuffed area with 400 grit sand paper.  Then apply a coat of Danish Oil with a rag, let it stand for about 20 minutes, then wipe it dry with a clean cloth.  Let it stand over night and apply additional coats of Danish Oil the same way until the sheen matches the rest of the furniture piece.  Then, in order to blend the repaired area with the rest of the finish, wipe the entire surface with the mineral oil mixture and wipe it dry.  If necessary, you could rub the entire piece with 0000 grade steel wool as in the first case.

Please note, that this is a general purpose approach that does not take into account the type of finish that is already on the piece.  It works for very minor blemishes and just general clean up to freshen the look. 

John Moldovan does furniture repairs in his Sonoma, CA studio.