The best way to protect the finish of your piece is to use a good quality wax polish, one that has beeswax in it. This should be done once a year, perhaps twice a year for heavy use. The wax should be applied sparingly with a soft cloth and the piece polished with another lint-free cloth. A good shine comes from rubbing rather than lots of layers of wax.
Avoid using silicone sprays for cleaning as they tend to leave a film that can be very hard to remove. Oils are a problem too. All oils attract dirt and some might darken the wood.
Avoid using feather dusters as they could scratch the surface. Intricate areas should be cleaned with a soft brush. Be careful not to catch or pull any decoration that could bend or come off. Clean intricate areas with a soft brush.
Repairing furniture can be a minefield, and it”s best to check with a qualified furniture conservator before considering any DIY repairs. If you are attempting any minor repairs such as removing scratches, it is important that the work can be easily reversed by a professional.
There are a number of surface finishes including: wax, varnish, lacquer, shellac, paint and modern synthetic finishes. Even bare wood will develop a patina of its own over decades. These finishes are a sign of the age of a piece and should be preserved.
Remove an unsightly surface scratch on your furniture with the following step-by-step advice.
If you find a scratch, first examine how deep it is. If it is only a surface scratch and has not gone through to the actual wood, you can attempt to colour-in the area. A scratch that has gone through to the wood can allow moisture into the wood. This could make the wood swell and cause cracking or the lifting of veneers. This type of damage needs professional attention.
Before attemping any repairs make sure you know what the surface finish of your piece is. If it”s varnish, shellac or wax you could try the following steps
Make sure the surface is dust free.
Use a basic watercolour set and a sable brush. Do some test colours to find one that looks as if it will match. Try it on the underside of the piece (or some other area that can”t be seen). The colour when wet will be the colour when waxed.
Avoid getting paint on the finish. Have a cloth ready to wipe off any stray spots of paints. You may want to go over the area again.
When it is fully dry (perhaps 1 hour), polish with beeswax polish and a lint-free cloth.
To begin a simple re-attachment, examine the area. Is there a residue of old glue? Does the broken piece fit well? Old glue can carefully be removed with a scalpel and a very steady hand. Don”t dig at the glue. Brush away any residue. It may be necessary to do this on both the area of the break and the broken piece.
Use a tiny amount of cold scotch glue on the broken part. This is animal glue (NOT synthetic glue) and does not need to be heated to be effective. Try to apply it in the middle of the piece to be joined. This will help prevent it oozing out when re-applied.
Carefully place the piece back in its original location. If you see any glue seeping out, remove it with your finger. Leave it for 24 hours and then carefully remove it. Polish with beeswax polish if necessary.