Wednesday, March 6, 2013
Caring for your wood furniture
Wax, Shellac and Varnish
The sealing agent used over the grain filler and color applied onto the wood acts like kind of "skin" that protects the main visible surfaces of the object. The protective "skins" likely to be encountered are wax, shellac and varnish. In England, oak and country-made furniture is often wax-finished. Shellac and varnishing tended to be used on the finer-surfaced woods, such as mahogany, satinwood and rosewood.
Furniture that has a wax finish is not very easily marked, and the surface is relatively easy to look after. The wax is vulnerable to heat, so insulating mats should be used on tables. Spillages of cold water and alcohol should be mopped up as quickly as possible using absorbent paper, which should always be kept handy if food and drink are to be consumed anywhere near valuable furniture. Wax finish is a much more "tolerant" finish than shellac: if you were to leave a spillage on it inadvertently for ten minutes before mopping it up, it is unlikely than any serious harm would be done. Wax finishes will also accommodate bruising better than shellac or varnishes. (Source: Sotheby´s Caring for Antiques).