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Sunday, 16 September 2007

Care instruction for period antiques and French polished furniture

Ensuring your antiques are displayed, stored and handled correctly is essential to preserving them for future generations. It is important to remember that furniture isn't just wood and the beauty of it is often how the wood is aged as well as the other materials used. French polish is fine and beautiful finish from a natural source, unlike any other finish French polish never cures which means it continues to harden with age. Below are unique instructions to keep the polish in pristine condition.

General housekeeping tips
The temperature in your home can greatly affect the condition of your furniture. Excessively dry conditions can cause furniture to dry out and shrink, while excessively damp conditions can cause mould growth. Try to keep your pieces in a stable environment where the temperature and relative humidity don't fluctuate dramatically. The following points are worth bearing in mind:

Don't place furniture near heat sources as heat causes shrinkage. This can loosen joints and veneers and change the shape of the piece over time. High heat will also soften the polish and sometimes leave a white mark. To avoid this coffee or tea and hot plates should lay on top of suitable place mats.

Light can also damage furniture. Natural or artificial light of a high intensity can alter finishes and if severe can break down the wood. Use blinds or curtains to reduce light levels.

Drips of alcohol/nail varnish remover on a polished surface will soften the polish or leave a mark if not removed immediately.
Water on a polished surface should also be removed immediately as with time it will leave a mark in the finish.

Keys and hard objects may scratch the surface.

All commercial spray polishes contain silicone that will eat away at the wood beneath the finish. Cleaning a French polished surface should be done with one lightly damp lint-free cheese cloth. The surface can then be wiped with a lint-free dry cheese cloth, fast strokes along the grain with minimal pressure will restore a glossy surface.

If moving furniture, remove drawers and lock doors so they don't open. Pieces should be padded and covered for transport. Use clean white cotton gloves when moving gilded furniture.

Lifting furniture should be done carefully. Check for loose areas. Chairs should be lifted by the seat rather than the back or arms. Tables should be lifted by the legs rather than the top, which could come off.

After taking these care instructions into consideration you may feel that antique and French polished finishes may not be suitable for your woodwork, however it is also worth keeping in mind that the French polish is far more forgiving than any other finish in the sense that unlike lacquers, it can be efficiently repaired.


  1. This is a very good blog , how do i subscribe to your newsletter ?

  2. Bryce,

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