How to Care for Walnut Furniture

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Caring for furniture made from the wood of the walnut tree is easy if you follow a few simple tips. Keep in mind, the lumber used to create your wooden cupboard or table was once a living plant.

Wood, like skin, reacts to the amount of humidity, or moisture, in the air. It can become dry and brittle during the winter when the air is dry or swell and fit tight when spring and summer rains arrive.

When your table or cupboard was built, the manufacturer sealed the wood with a finish to help prevent the effect humidity has on your fine, wood furniture. The type of finish used to seal the wood will determine the best method you use to care for your individual pieces of handcrafted furniture.

No matter what type of finish is on your walnut furniture you need to protect the surface from scratches and spills whenever possible. Always use tablecloths, mats and coasters to minimize the chance something will mar the wood.

Three basic finishes can be used to seal wood furniture. If you inherited Great-aunt Mamie’s walnut dining table and sideboard, chances are good it was finished with varnish, oiled or waxed. These finishes require more care than pieces finished with polyurethane blends used in furniture manufacturing today.

Caring for antique pieces with their varnished, waxed or oiled finishes will require more time. Proper care will not only prolong the life of the furniture, it will increase the value of the piece and enrich the patina of the wood as it ages.

Dry dusting is best done using a tack cloth. A tack cloth is sticky to the touch and causes dust and other minute particles to stick to it instead of being dragged across the wood where it can leave microscopic scratches on the surface. Tack cloths can be bought in the paint sections of building supply and home improvement stores.

Do not slide vases and picture frames along the surface of your furniture so you can dust underneath them. Instead pick them up, dust the surface underneath and set them gently back in place.

If a spill occurrs, wipe it up as quickly as possible. If a white film develops, rub it vigorously with the tip of your finger until it disappears. For larger milky spots, wear rubber gloves. Dip cheese cloth in very hot water, wring excess water from the cloth and fold it to form a thick pad. Put household ammonia on the folded section and rub the white film until it disappears. Apply linseed oil to the area immediately. Use a soft, dry cloth to rub the oil into the wood e until the oil is absorbed.

Unless your walnut furniture is finished with a coat of polyurethane, you should polish your wood furniture twice a year with a silicone based wax. Pick the time of the year when humidity levels vary the most in your climate. For example, spring and winter are ideal choices. Waxing your wooden furniture during changes in humidity levels in your home will help minimize the effect moisture, or lack of it will have on your furniture investment. 

With a small investment of time and some tender loving care, you can reap a lifetime of enjoyment and pleasure from your walnut furniture.

More about this author: Jan Lazor

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