June 29, 2010
Revive Your Furniture's Finish
If the finish on your furniture appears dull and dry, but is otherwise intact, you can revive it with a simple cleaning and a coat of wax.
Start by wiping the finish thoroughly with a clean rag dampened with naphtha. Naphtha is a fast drying solvent that is often used as a lubricant for rubbing out hardened shellac finishes and can improve an older shellac coating with a simple rub down. One of the most popular is VM&P Naphtha, which should be available at the big box home improvement stores as well as hardware stores and paint stores. This step removes any oil-soluble grime.
Then, switch to a detergent to remove water-soluble dirt. One squirt of Dawn
brand dishwashing liquid mixed into a pint of warm water. Use a slightly dampened cloth, not one that is dripping wet!
Next, lightly dry sand the finish with a 400 grit sandpaper and follow up with a 600 grit. The goal here is to remove only the very top layer of finish, but not to sand all the way through to the wood.
Wipe off the sanding dust with a rag dampened with the naphtha and then use a natural or dark-colored paste wax (depending on the color of your wood) to bring the luster back up.