|Did you know that up
to half the weight of freshly sawn wood is water? Furniture is crafted
from wood that is carefully dried, retaining just enough moisture for the
furniture to properly acclimate to the relative humidity in your home. The
wood in furniture continues to exchange moisture with the air, shrinking
and expanding in response to changes in relative humidity.
Like your own skin, solid hardwood furniture's natural response to
extremely dry air is to lose moisture and shrink a bit The halves of an
extension table may part slightly or a few tiny openings may appear on a
solid wood surface. This will correct itself as the relative humidity
rises, and the wood absorbs enough moisture to expand slightly.
On the other hand, if you don't have an air conditioner or
dehumidifier, your home's relative humidity may get too high. Parts of
your wood furniture may absorb excess moisture from the air and expand,
perhaps causing drawers to stick. Once again, this will correct itself as
your home's relative humidity decreases. The furniture's quality and
sturdiness are not affected by these natural changes.
Here are some ways to ensure your solid hardwood furniture's longevity:
For your comfort, as well as to protect your furniture, use a humidifier
in the winter and an air conditioner in the summer to keep the relative
humidity at 25 to 35 percent.
Avoid placing furniture directly in front of radiators, heat runs or
Don't expose hardwood furniture to continuous direct sunlight. Draw the
Store table leaves as close as possible to the table. Keep them in an
upstairs closet rather than in a damp basement, so that the table leaves
are adjusting to the same relative humidity.
Tender Loving Care
surprisingly simple to protect and enhance hardwood's natural beauty. All
that's needed is some tender loving care. Here are a few tips from the
Read my care
directions carefully and keep them handy for future reference.
Dust with a soft cloth by following the grain pattern of
the wood. Use an old T-shirt, baby diaper or cheesecloth that's been
laundered to remove the sizing.
Dust often to remove everyday abrasive particles from wood surfaces.
Before dusting, moisten cloth lightly with a spray product. A dry cloth
can leave hairline scratches on the finish.
Surfaces also can be cleaned with a mild non-alkaline soap and water. Use
the suds on a damp sponge or cloth, but be sure to pretest the solution on
an out-of-sight-section to make sure it doesn't damage the finish. Dry
immediately with a soft cloth and buff lightly, following the grain.
Wood finishes benefit from an occasional waxing or polishing. A paste wax
can be applied every six to twelve months. Remove old wax first with a
mild non-alkaline soap and water solution.
Avoid waxing urethane-finished furniture. Waxing these surfaces causes
them to gather dust and dirt rather than repel it.
Minor damage to
solid hardwood furniture can be repaired quickly and effectively with the
right materials, a bit of elbow grease, and some careful attention to
detail. More complex repair or refinishing jobs are best left to
professionals, especially if the piece has one of today's "super
Scratch and Nick
When preparing to
repair small nicks or scratches, always test an inconspicuous area of the
furniture first to make certain the mixture won't damage the finish.