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How to Care for Salvaged or Unsealed Wood Furniture

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Many readers wanted to know more about how I stripped the cabinet in my kitchen and how to care for it now that it is unsealed or salvaged wood with questions like:

-Do you leave the wood as it is?

-Did I put a clear polyurethane over it?

If you missed the post on how I stripped the cabinet, you can find it here, Furniture Stripping Basics.

How to protect salvaged or unsealed wood furniture

To answer the questions, I did a little research.  For now I am leaving the cabinet unsealed as it is a piece that does not get too much use.

How to Care For Salvaged or Unsealed Wood Furniture

-If it is a piece that will get a fair amount of use – like a tabletop; apply a coat or two of soft beeswax based paste wax to protect it.  This will condition the wood, keeping it looking very natural with a matte finish while enhancing and protecting the wood grain.

-You can always add a sealant later, or experiment on finishes and sealants like a clear or tinted polyurethane on the underside of your piece to determine your favorite look.

-There is a risk of stains from spills or oils if the wood is left unfinished. Sanding with a combination of first 100 grit and then 220 grit sand paper will typically remove them and restore the look and feel.

– Even though the imperfections in the wood add to its allure, using coasters and placemats will help prevent unwanted stains and marks.

– The best method for cleaning is simply soap and water.  You can also create a solution with a few tablespoons of white vinegar diluted in spray bottle of water. It works well to get off the finger prints and smudges.

I love how the cabinet came out and will consider stripping more furniture in my future.  When my budget allows, I may even end up buying a piece of furniture made from salvaged wood.


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  1. I have been looking to painting or staining some of my older furniture pieces and this book would surely help with inspiration and “how to”. Love your blog and projects!

  2. We inherited a few wonderful pieces after my in-laws passed away this past year. One is a wood dining room table (dark walnut stain and poly urethane) with iron sewing machine legs. My husband built it with his Dad wen he was a pre-teen. I can’t wait to show him your advice so we can refinish this piece properly. The book would be a great help! :)

  3. I have so many pieces that need refinishing! This book looks like the one for me!! Here’s hoping that I win!! Thanks for the give away!

  4. I painted my first piece of furniture of Memorial Day…..a rocker I purchased on Craigslist……and I am so happy with how it turned out, but must admit, I winged it and know I probably didn’t do it “right”, so learning how would be great.