A little paint, stain, or lacquer often transforms a derelict into a thing of beauty
ANNE ELIZABETH WILSONMay151927
Saving Furniture from the Attic
A little paint, stain, or lacquer often transforms a derelict into a thing of beauty
ANNE ELIZABETH WILSON
The Home Beautiful
ONCE, when talking to a paint manufacturer on his idea of the value of paint in the home, I asked him what service it might be said to per-
form for the ordinary housewife. “Well, I would just say,” he answered, “that its chief value to her was saving things from the attic.” And now that brushing lacquers, drying in less than thirty minutes, are to be had in all colors and in transparent varieties, the zest for atticmatching activities should be considerably increased!
The situation works both ways, for there is often more interesting renovating to be done on pieces that have already served a long sentence in the attic, than on those which may be in imminent danger of banishment. Often, too, if paint is to be the saving of one, it may have been the ruination of the other. There was a madness ever in the minds of people, some fifty years ago, for painting any and every kind of wood, no matter how fine. Therefore the renovating task may consist as much in removing old paint and restoring good wood, as saving broken down surfaces with new paint.
When you come upon an old piece of furniture which seems to present possibilities of restoration, try to determine, if possible, the kind of wood of which it is made.
If it is either mahogany or
walnut, it will have to be scraped and sandpapered until the old coats of paint or varnish are removed. Any other wood may be washed free. Commercial paint removers are excellent, but equally good results may be obtained with the following preparation.
Take one large bucket of boiling water and one of cold water, a long-handled dish-mop, a can of potash and a bottle of vinegar. A pair of rubber gloves and a rubber apron over old clothes may be considered as part of the precaution. Dissolve potash in the boiling water, shaking in little by little to prevent boiling over. Cold water may be used, but the action on the paint is slower. Apply the mop saturated with the potash water and rub off the old surface. If there is any carving, a brush may be necessary to get into the crevices. When clean down to the natural wood, the article should be rinsed in clear, cool
water. A hose is good if you have it, otherwise simply pour the water over with a cup or dipper. In order to protect the wood from any potash which might still remain, go over it again with vinegar which will neutralize the powerful alkali. Apply carefully over the whole surface with a soft cloth—being certain not to miss any part. If the lye is not neutralized in every part it will eat into the wood and, later, form bubbles under the new finish. Set the furniture out-of-doors to dry for at least three days. When completely dry, smooth down with No. 00 sandpaper, for the washing process will have noticeably roughened the wood.
When the process has gone this far, the piece is ready for a new finish—stain, varnish, or wax, or paint. Some interesting effects may be obtained with various stains. For instance, almost any stain or color may be used in finishing oak save mahogany, which is impossible because of the characteristic grain. Silver gray effects are particularly effective, and so are green. Pine is usually best painted or lacquered, although it will take stain also. Walnut may be finished in its natural color, or stained darker as desired. Waxing and lacquering are the two final polishes. Waxing requires some rubbing, but it is one of the most beautiful
finishes possible. Mahogany requires mahogany stain and fine shellacking, sandpapering and re-shellacking. Although waxing or oiling is a possible treatment, the process described above is the most satisfactory. Cherry is best treated in the same way.
For country-house bedrooms, a very effective finish is gray, green blue or brown stain on any kind of rough undressed furniture. No over-glaze is necessary—the wood being well sand-papered before the stain is applied.
Wax and boiled linseed oil make good top coats over any stain or natural wood. The great advantage of these, is that hot dishes do not leave rings on the surface, and any little blemishes that occur can be easily repaired with a little application of wax or oil, according to which has been used. If wax is used, rubbing the surface with a soft cloth about twenty minutes after it has been applied, will bring a soft lustre to the surface. Boiled linseed oil requires aboutthree days to dry. Although neither of these finishes give a high polish, they give great charm to a good piece of furniture.
The Ounce of Prevention
XTOW we consider the shabby piece of
^ furniture, which perhaps has been shunted from room to room—even placed outside on the rain-drenched porch, and which at present suggests only one fate—to be thrust out of sight. Before you discard it, investigate its possibilities. Though you may have no painted bedroom sets in the house, an ‘incidental’ piece of colorful painted furniture may not go amiss in any of the rooms. Or have you ever thought that all the rag-tag and bobtail pieces of different wood, color, andeven design, which are scattered about the house might be welded into an integrate whole for the furnishing of a whole room, by a uniform treatment of paint?
However, passé such things may look in their present state, there is every assurance that they can be transformed into a semblance of the latest mode.
In undertaking to paint furniture, try to do it in a room that is free from dust. The use of lacquer which is so quick-drying, has removed a great deal of the likelihood of dust specking in wet paint, however. If pieces to be painted are varnished this finish should be removed with lye water fa tablespoonful of lye powder to two quarts of water). Allow to stand a few minutes after application and then rinse with clear water. Most lacquers will ‘lift’ old varnish, if not removed, and ordinary paint cannot get a good purchase on the wood over a glazed surface. There is one brand of lacquer which is guaranteed not to disturb varnish, but even so, a coat applied over old heavy surfaces always has a tendency to peel and chip. Whether you use home-made remover for varnish, or preparations bought at the paint store, always rinse with clear water and dry with a cloth after each application.
In painting with oil paints, follow the grain of the wood, applying first a wellthinned coat and, second, after the first has dried thoroughly, a glossy coat. Always see the paint is brushed well into the wood. In using lacquer, on the other hand, be sure that you allow it to flow on. Brushing will result in an uneven finish. One coat of lacquer often will be satisfactory and it will dry immediately.
Before using paint, make sure that it is
well mixed. Pour off the top fluid into a spare can, and then mix thoroughly with a stick the pigment and oil which remain, stirring up from the bottom. Now pour back the other fluid, mixing with the stick as it flows. If paint seems thick, thin with a little turpentine or raw linseed oil for the first coat. The coat which goes directly on the wood is better and more lasting if it is thin, than thick. It then penetrates the wood and gives a permanent tooth for the outside or glossy coat. Lacquer, on the other hand, may be flowed on with a full brush.
To remove marks left by hot plates, treat with nitre followed by olive oil.
Some housekeepers find that white rings can be removed by a mixture of salt and olive oil. The spot is thickly covered with salt, and then as much olive oil as it will tàke up is poured over it. The mixture is allowed to stand all night, and in the morning the spot is rubbed with pure olive oil. Grease spots may be removed by turpentine or hot water.
Ugly cracks or splits can be filled up with beeswax and sandpapered. The dust from the sand papering falls into the cracks and when a refinishing process is carried out as described before, the cracks will have disappeared.
Dark bruises can be removed by placing pads of brown paper, soaked in warm water, over them and applying a warm iron. Wait until the wood is thoroughly warmed and damp, then apply the iron until the paper is dry. It may take several treatments, but results are very successful in the end. Dirty leather may be cleaned with milk applied with a soft cloth.
Cane or porch chairs, whose seats are sagging, may be toned, up by wetting on the under side, and being placed in the
HTHE stencilling of both furniture and fabrics have been treated quite extensively in a previous article. Suitable stencil designs may be obtained from a source which I shall be glad to recommend on inquiry. Another and new method of decorating furniture is with wallpaper design. A motif is cut from the paper, soaked in a special preparation, applied where desired, and the complete design is transferred. The same effect can be obtained by glueing down medallions cut from chintz. In both cases, these should be applied on flat paint, and afterwards varnished for protection.
Where they are used, the second coat of paint may be replaced by shellac or varnish, or in the case of lacquer, a flat color followed by a transparent finish.
Just a Case of Sprucing Up
CAFTEN furniture which has a hope-
lessly run down appearance is only in need of a little elbow grease applied with the right restorer. Furniture often can be revived by rubbing the wood with a flannel saturated with turpentine or soap and warm water. Rub dry and apply a solution composed of equal parts of vinegar, methylated spirits and linseed oil. Shake the solution thoroughly each time, and be sure and rub the wood perfectly dry after applying.
Stains made by ink may be removed by nitre applied with a feather. As soon as the ink disappears, rub the spot with a cloth wet in cold water, or there will be a white spot.
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