Updated: Mar 13, 2020
1. Keep your antique wood furniture out of direct sunlight and away from heat sources, like a fireplace or heater.
Sunlight can degrade the wood and heat sources cause the wood to dry and shrink, which damages the wood and joints.
I inherited an antique dresser and secretary about 15 years ago. They're beautiful pieces, Heavy, solid wood pieces that we estimate to be about 150 years old, give or take 50 years. Every so often I search the internet to try and identify their origins. The secretary has a handwritten inscription on the bottom of a small draw that says "Repaired by R.O. Broyles, Shenandoah Junction, West Virginia, May 20, 1915. "
If it was repaired in 1915, just how old is it? And I'm not sure if the drawer was repaired, or some other part of the secretary.
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2. Keep the environment at about 50% humidity.
A stable, part-humid environment prevents the wood from shrinking, swelling, splitting and warping which can loosen the joints and hardware.
I used Feed-N-Wax on this secretary 2 weeks ago It's really soaked up the polish.
I added another coat today. The secretary will have that polished look for about a week.
I've been dusting and polishing and oiling these pieces for the last 15 years. I've used Old English tinted oil, regular furniture polish, plain lemon oil and most recently something my aunt told me about called Howard Restor-A-Finish. The Restor-A-Finish works like the Old English tinted oil and covers scratches and brings the wood to life. I've used this off and on for the last year or so.
Recently, I bought a butcher block top to make a table top for my son's apartment. You can see that post here. The butcher block wasn't sealed, so I asked a guy at the home improvement store if they had any food safe mineral oil or any other kind of treatment that I could put on the butcher block to seal it and make it water repellant. He showed me Howard Butcher Block Oil and Howard Butcher Block Conditioner. I realized that these were made by the same people that make Restor-A-Finish. So, I bought both and they didn't dissappoint. The butcher block is beautiful and water repellant.
3. Apply a quality beeswax based polish to bring out the color and grain of the wood and provide some protection.
I'm using Howard Feed-N-Wax. This is the best furniture polish for old wood because it's made of beeswax, carnauba wax and orange oil. I've included some photos of before and after throughout this post.
While I was looking at the mineral oil and conditioner I saw another
product called Howard Feed-N-Wax wood polish and conditioner. Hmmm. I've got to try this too. So, I bought it.
I went on the Howard website and watched their videos and read about their products and how they worked. The Feed-N-Wax is made out of #beeswax, carnauba wax and orange oil and it feeds the wood and brings out the natural grain of the wood. You wipe it on pretty thick, then go back later and "buff" it with a clean, soft cloth. They recommend that you use it along with the Restor-A-Finish.
In my experience, furniture polishes "disappear" after a day or two, but this one has staying power and a pleasant orange smell. Your furniture will glow for about a week. This #furniturepolish actually soaks into the wood and brings it to life!
Before Feed-N-Wax on the left.
After Feed-N-Wax on the right.
Before on the left.
After on the right,
Below are some photos of the dresser top before and after Howard Feed-N-Wax. I used a line on the top of the dresser to separate the treated side from the untreated side. (I didn't draw the line. I don't know how it got there. ). The light was a little different because of the time of day when I took these photos, but you can still see a big difference in the sides.
I wiped a thick coat of Howard Feed-N-Wax on the right side of the line.