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Contamination in Antique Restoration

wood finishing

by Alan Noel
Professional Wood Finisher


When restoring antique furniture, it is quite common to run into problems caused by previous owners who applied "magic polishes" and other concoctions to the finished surfaces. These, along with modern mineral oil based polishes which contain silicone can cause big headaches down the road.

Here are SEVEN tips to help with these problems.

  1. Never use any liquid polish, especially ones that contain silicone.

  2. Always use a good paste wax to polish and protect furniture finishes.

  3. Use mineral spirits to wipe down and clean the surfaces.

  4. Use mineral spirits in good ventilation for wet sanding. This will also help to remove any old wax and dirt.

  5. Since silicone cannot be removed, first seal the prepped surface with a very light coat of fresh shellac as a barrier for the finish coat.

  6. On bare wood, lightly bleach the surface with a weak solution, rinse and let dry.

  7. Sand all surfaces, stain and then apply a light barrier coat of shellac. This will seal in the silicone.


Visiting Atlanta? Attend one of Alan's upcoming highly informative Highland Woodworking wood finishing seminars:


August 4  Spray Finishing

August 11  Antiques Show & Tell

August 25 & 26  Antique Restoration




Visit Highland Woodworking's Online
Wood Finishing Supplies Department




Alan can be reached directly via email c/o Alan Noel Furniture Refinishing at anoelfurniturere@bellsouth.net.


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