Cleaning off Dirt and Wax Buildup
- Clean the furniture of all wax, grime and dirt. Use a mild detergent cleaner mixed with water. Follow directions on the package. They will vary, depending on brand used. Clean small areas at a time and wipe frequently with a dry cloth. You can try using steel wool on areas that are heavily soiled with built up wax and dirt. Old toothbrushes, toothpicks, heavy twine and scrapers will help you get into all the nooks and crannies that harbor dirt and wax. There still might be a wonderful finish that is salvageable under all the build up. If the stain still appears intact, simply finish off with polymerized finish oil. If there are patches of shellac or varnish, you will need to strip the wood.
- Strip the furniture of any old varnishes. This is an important step to prepare the piece for staining. It will not take stain in any areas that are still covered in a varnish or lacquer. Allow the stripping agent to soak a few minutes and scrape the old varnish and stripper off. Dispose of the rags and scraped materials in a metal, fireproof container. Both the chemical remnants and rags can spontaneously combust. Clean the furniture with cleaning solution again and let it dry for 24 hours.
- Sand the furniture lightly, if needed. Run your hands along the entire piece to feel for snags or uneven areas. Sanding with the grain of the wood will allow a smooth finish. Wipe with tack cloth to remove all dust.
- Stain the piece with a product that is suitable for maple wood. It is a harder wood and has a difficult time taking on colors. There are many products available that are designed for harder woods. See Resources for information regarding suitable maple stains. Use a brush or cloth to coat the furniture evenly. Wipe off the excess and let dry overnight.
- Use an oil finish such as polymerized tung or linseed oil to get a natural, antique look. Polymerized oils act much like a varnish, but do not yellow with age. Brushed one of these on and let dry for 24 to 48 hours.
Things You Will Need
- Steel wool
- Mild furniture cleaner
- Old toothbrush
- Polymerized tung or linseed oil
- Furniture stripper
- Metal trash bin
- Fine-grade sandpaper
- Tack cloth
- Furniture stain
- Allow drying time between steps. Mixing chemicals when wet can cause irreparable damage to finish and furniture. Take your time during the cleaning and stripping steps. Getting all the old dirt and varnish off makes the difference in a good new finish.