Q: We have a beautiful large chest of drawers that has been in my family for many years. Before we moved into our present turn-of-the-century house about a year ago we had the chest completely refinished. Of course none of the drawers of the chest itself was finished on the inside, only on the outside. The problem is that now the drawers all seem to be hard to open and close, yet they always worked fine before we had the chest refinished. We have tried a lubricant, which helped a little but not enough. Do you think the refinishing job affected them - or is there any suggestion you can make to correct this condition?
A: Since your "new" house was built many years ago it is possible that the floor on which the chest stands is not level, and this may have caused a slight warping of the frame that would couse drawers to stick. Place a level on top of the chest to see if it is standing level. If it isn't, place shims or wedges under the low end to make it level. Then let it stand for a couple of days so it settles back into its original shape.
If this doesn't cure the problem, take the drawers out and lubricate the slides on which each drawer rides, as well as the edges of the drawers where they show signs of rubbing. Use a silicone spray, or a stick-type lubricant sold for use on doors. While the drawers are out inspect all the edges to see if the refinisher allowed paint or varnish to build up along the edges; if so, sand slightly. As a last resort you many have to sand or plane the drawer edges at the places where rubbing ro sticking occurs.
Q: I was planning to line all the closets in my home with cedar, but someone told me this was not practical for closets in regular daily use. Is this true?
A: There is nothing wrong with your idea. It's just that the principal advantage of cedar is its aroma. It not only smells nice, it also repels moths (it does not kill them). Naturally in a closet that is opened often the odor will dissipate rapidly, therefore it may not remain as effective for as long.
Q: Can you tell me how to clean a chrome breakfast set? The legs on the table and the chairs are pitted, and there are black spots in many places.
A: Chrome normally needs very little polishing, but a good metal polish of the kind sold for use on automobile trim often helps restore and maintain the luster. No polish will remove pit marks; it will help keep more from developing. It sounds as though your chrome plating is pretty well gond; you can try a polish, rubbing especially hard on the black spots, but if this doesn't work, I'm afraid there is little you can do.
Q: The aluminum siding on the upper part of our house has run down onto the red brick that covers the lower story, and it looks terrible.
My husband tried muriatic acid, but it didn't work. What can we use to take the white off the brick?
A: I assume you mean that the white finish or white paint has chalked and run down, or has been washed down by the rain. This is a common problem with some paints on wood siding, but this is the first time I've heard of it happening on aluminum, because this type of siding material usually has a tough, baked-on finish. Yours must be quite old, or the finish was a poor grade in the first place. In some cases the whitish stains you describe can be washed off with muriatic acid, but if yours won't come off this way, perhaps the solution was not strong enough, or you didn't leave it on long enough. If acid won't take it off, there are two other choices: sandblasting, or just waiting until it weathers off. You shoudl refinish the aluminum because more paint will keep running down. CAPTION: Illustration, no caption, By Mary Myers for The Washington Post