How to clean wood before restoration
May 23, 2012 10:16 AM   Subscribe

What is the best way to clean wood furniture BEFORE applying the Tung Oil?

I want to wash a piece of wood furniture as best I can, before applying some Tung Oil to make it nice and shiny. Do I use Murphy's Oil Soap, ordinary soap, no soap at all? Do I rinse it in water for a day, first? Do I make it as dry as I possibly can, before applying the Tung Oil?
posted by shipbreaker to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (3 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
What does the label on the tung oil say about surface prep ?

(Some finishes say on the bottle what to clean with.. Granted, that's usually in reference to a un-finished piece, so things like mineral spirits or denatured alcohol are suggested..)
posted by k5.user at 10:20 AM on May 23, 2012

How dirty is the furniture? Normally, assuming the wood is bare and freshly sanded, I dampen a cloth with mineral spirits or turpentine, and wipe down the wood to remove as much wood dust as possible. It evaporates quickly enough.

If the furniture has had an oil finish before, and is just grungy, sometimes a more vigorous wiping with turpentine helps remove the dirt. If it's really bad, some sanding is in order.
posted by 2N2222 at 11:43 AM on May 23, 2012

Depends a lot on what's on there now. Is there an existing stain that you want to keep, or do you want to put the tung oil on bare wood?

I'd probably start by wiping it down well with mineral spirits and paper towels - if it's been waxed in the past, you'll need to get that off first. After that, if you want to keep the color that it is, I'd wash it with a general purpose spray cleaner. Make sure it's dried completely, check to see if it needs sanding (use 220 or 320 grit), and start with the tung oil.

Follow the directions on the bottle of tung oil. Bear in mind that there's difference between "100% Tung Oil" and "Tung Oil Finish," the latter of which can contain any amount of oil from actual tung, including none at all. Real tung oil takes a long time to dry and needs to be sanded between every coat. Other finishes can be less finicky.

Oh, and don't soak it in water unless you're looking for the best way to ruin it quickly.
posted by echo target at 12:08 PM on May 23, 2012

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