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Caring for your wooden furniture

Wood is strong, flexible, and versatile and a working material but it needs just as much care as all your furnishings.  Wood must be given the right environment and be handled appropriately to maintain its good condition.

Causes of deterioration
Extremes of temperature, humidity fluctuation and biological attack are the main causes of deterioration to your wooden items.
Hot and dry conditions will cause wood to shrink and crack, whilst cold and damp conditions will cause wood to swell and warp.  House borer is so common in New Zealand and can only be removed using harsh chemicals.  Mildew and wood rotting fungi are very destructive to your furniture and your buildings.  Good air circulation helps reduce mould growth
Keep your furniture out of direct sunlight – this will cause fading and deterioration to the finish on the wood and its fabrics.

How to clean your wooden objects:
Dust regularly with a slightly dampened cloth, after dusting, buff the surface with a dry soft cloth. 
Polish with wood wax (recipe below) once per year or use a microcrystalline wax (Museum wax).

Some DO NOT’s
  • RED OIL POLISH and other polishing oils (NOT TO BE USED ON ANY WOOD) attract dust, oxidises, hardens to a film, and creates a matt dull finish. Not only does it darken and discolour the wood but the damage is irreversible.
  • Unfinished wood should not be wet cleaned – just use a soft dry cloth
  • Stripping furniture is not recommended

Simple restoration you can try at home:

Blushing: White haze over lacquer/varnish remove with turpentine and OOOO steel wool – polish the whole item with turpentine and the steel wool - do the whole surface and re-wax when finished.
Chipping and scratches: used a wax or shellac stick to fill in the surface.

Cracking/crazing: Re-dissolve varnish/lacquer using a solvent (metholated spirits or alcohol) brush over the crack until it softens then continues to brush until it is smooth.  Then re-wax.

Dents: place a wet pad (cotton ball if a small dent) over the dent and steam with an iron – this may work for some dents – the older the dent the harder it is to expand.  Be careful not to place the iron directly on the wood.  Basically you are steaming the wood and helping it to swell up again.  Dents mainly occur on softer woods eg: pine and mahogany

White spots/rings:  This is caused from moisture getting into the varnish – using the ooo grade steel wool, oil and turpentine mixed together (any oil cooking, baby etc) and softly polish the spot away – this may cause the part treated to become shiny – if so you’ll have to apply the same treatment to the rest of the piece.  If the spots or mark does not disappear – it means the moisture has made its way through to the wood – and there by you’ll have to use varnish thinner to remove the varnish and start again.

Turpentine: can be use to cut back vanish on a wooden surface it is great for removing dirt and mould build up without removing shellac or varnish.
Wood wax: Hard wax is the best to use, not only will you have to wax once a year (or quarterly with frequently use items eg: dining table) it will also help to protect the surface from scratches and bumps.  Use a lint free cloth and polish horizontal then vertically or until a nice shine appears. The wax will harden and for in between waxing just use a dry cloth to polish. 
Pest removal: Wood worm – if objects are small enough place into a plastic bag seal and stick them into the freezer for 7-10 days this will kill borer.  Kerosene – inject into holes using a syringe.  Kerosene will not harm your objects it will penetrate the wood and evaporate – but the odour will live on and deter the wood worm.
Homemade Wood Wax
Refined Bees Wax 1kg
Mineral Turpentine ½ measure to bees wax
Canuba Wax 2 tablespoons only – hardener
Heat on an electric stove – lowest setting until it is mixed together and has butter like consistency.  Cool and store is glass jars.
*These 3 ingredients are totally inert and no mould/mildew growth will form on the surface (as the sugar contained in the Bees wax prevents this).

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Shantytown is located at 316 Rutherglen Road, Paroa - just 10Km south of Greymouth on the West Coast of the South Island. 
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