Q: My kitchen cabinets have a natural finish (the wood grain shows through) but I am not sure what kind of finish it is. The cabinets are sticky in spots and because of frequent wiping with a wet rag, the grain is raised in places. I have tried various wood cleaners but they don't work. Can I use terpentine or kerosene to remove the gumminess without harming the finish, and can I sand the grain down where it is raised?
A: You can probably remove the sticky residue by wiping down with a rag or piece of fine steel wool that has been dipped into paint thinner, but whether this will harm the finish I cannot say, because you are not sure what the finish is. From your description I doubt there is much finish left anyway, so I think your best beet is to do a complete job of stripping the cabinets to the bare wood, then sanding and refinishing them. For the new finish you can use either several coats of varnish or penetrating resin-type wood sealer.
Q: The house I bought was covered with vinyl siding on the outside by the previous owner. When this was done, the siding was applied as it covered the air vent in the attic. I have an attic fan for the other end of the attic. Do you think I should have the vinyl siding cut open to expose the original air vent?
A: Yes, definitely. For proper ventilation an attic should have vents at each end, or along the eaves and the ridge, to insure through-ventilation. Openings should be large enough to provide a total of at least 1 square foot of free opening for each 300 square feet of attic floor space.