DEAR SAM: I have acquired some furniture - some about 60 years old, some about 20 and some new - all of which I would like to maintain in good condition. Can you advise me how I can determine the finish of the furniture and whether I should use wax, furniture polish or oil to preserve it? ANSWER: The 60-year old furniture may be the type that is rubbed down with linseed oil, especially if the wood is natural walnut of dark grain. To replenish the oil base, obtain some boiled linseed oil and dilute a pint or quart with about half as much turpentine, which acts as a paint drier.
Use a clean cheesecloth to spread the mixture over the furniture. Let it penetrate the wood and then rub it down with a soft cloth, causing a warm friction to develop. Additional coats of boiled linseed/turpentine may be applied similarly for a few days until you are satisfied with the surface texture. Finally, a thin coat of paste furniture wax is applied and buffed for a gloss finish.
The 20-year-old furniture probably is made with lacquer finish, which can be tested buy using acetone (nail polish remover) on a cotton swab. Slight mars in the finish can be touched up by rotating the swab with some of the existing lacquer. New quick-drying lacquer is available for brushing or spraying. In either case, the finish must be cleaned of wax or any existing polish. "Was-Off" is a power, dissolved in water, for removing surface dirt without affecting the coloring stain of the base. The lacquer odor is pungent and good ventilation is necessary. Follow container directions. A thin coat of buffing wax paste is desirable for easy maintenance.
DEAR SAM: The casement windows in my 40-foot brick rambler have always had condensation. After we put in a humidifier, however, the condensation double. Should we put in storm windows?
ANSWER: The condensation has increased because of the humidifier -- and you may need to lower the humidity. Storm windows; however, will reduce the condensation.