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Cleaning a Finish

wood finishing

by Alan Noel
Professional Wood Finisher



To give a good cleaning to a piece of furniture that has a viable finish is not an arduous task if one uses the right tool for the job. In my shop we always use waterless hand cleaner. This type of cleaner is used primarily by auto mechanics to clean the grease and grime off their hands and is also great for cleaning furniture finishes. Here are eleven tips for cleaning a finish.

  1. Go Jo and D&L are the two brands we prefer in my shop.
  2. DO NOT use a cleaner that has pumice in it.
  3. DO NOT use sanitizing waterless cleaners that are designed for killing germs.
  4. Use Naptha to clean off any initial dirt and old wax.
  5. Do not use mineral spirits. It dries too slowly and may leach under or through the finish.
  6. After the Naptha dries, apply the waterless hand cleaner in a circular motion with a soft cloth to loosen the remaining dirt and grime.
  7. Allow the cleaner to work for a couple minutes to loosen heavily soiled areas.
  8. With a clean cloth, wipe off the loosened dirt and the cleaner.
  9. In hard to reach areas, use an old clean tooth brush or any soft nylon brush.
  10. After all is clean and dry, apply paste wax and buff.
  11. Admire your clean hands!


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


December 8  Secrets of the Scott Antique Show

December 12  Finishing the Finish

December 18  French Polish Workshop




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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