Restoring old furniture

Birdie

Farm Hand
Messages
57
I've recently inherited my great-great-grandmother's display hutch. Unfortunately, it's seen better days. The glass is foggy, no matter how many times I clean it and the wood has turned milky in spots. Any tips for how to clean this up? I'm not worried about ruining an antique. As far as I know, this case was handmade by another relative. It's solid wood if that helps at all.
 

Riin

Farm Hand
Messages
29
The choice of cleaner is quite important. If it’s too strong, it can harm the surface of the furniture. Mild ones should be good to go. Clean it gently and patience is usually very important if you don’t want to ruin anything.
 

RichZ

Golden Chicken
Top Poster Of Month
Messages
184
Milky spots on furniture are often caused by putting something damp on the furniture, such as a wet glass. To remove it, make paste of 1 tablespoon baking soda and 1 teaspoon water. Gently rub the spotin a circular motion and hopefully it disappears.

As far as the glass, there must be something coating it to make it foggy. I assume you've tried various glass cleaners. Maybe try a little bit of various solvents to a corner of the glass to see if it removes it.
 

Birdie

Farm Hand
Messages
57
Milky spots on furniture are often caused by putting something damp on the furniture, such as a wet glass. To remove it, make paste of 1 tablespoon baking soda and 1 teaspoon water.
It's a glass case for displaying things. Even the sides have milky spots. It was stored in the basement. They used a dehumidifier, but I wonder whether the humidity still managed to cause the milky white spots. It's not like a ring you'd see on a coffee table from a glasses' condensation where the person failed to use a coaster. It's more like a cloudy mess in spots. I've tried photographing it, but it doesn't show up in the image. I tried your remedy and it helped to remove a lot of the grime, but it did nothing for the milky spots. You reckon I'll have to strip it? I might be able to paint over the milky spots, but I'd have to paint the whole thing. It's black. I'm not sure what kind of wood is underneath.

I don't mind stripping it or repainting it, but I don't want to do more damage than has already been done. Though I'm not sure why I'm so protective of it when my kids have already called "not it" when it comes their turn to inherit the thing. It's pretty unique looking, but it has a sweet story of origin. My great-great-great-grandfather couldn't afford to buy one for his daughter when she got married and it was something she really wanted, so he made her one instead. Ever since then, the women in our family have received a display case as a wedding gift, to hold their new keepsakes, knickknacks, and other special mementos in. Huh, that sounds pretty sexist now that I think about it. Well, I'd gift one to any son or daughter of mine who was starting out on their own whether they were married or not.
 

RichZ

Golden Chicken
Top Poster Of Month
Messages
184
It's a glass case for displaying things. Even the sides have milky spots. It was stored in the basement. They used a dehumidifier, but I wonder whether the humidity still managed to cause the milky white spots. It's not like a ring you'd see on a coffee table from a glasses' condensation where the person failed to use a coaster. It's more like a cloudy mess in spots. I've tried photographing it, but it doesn't show up in the image. I tried your remedy and it helped to remove a lot of the grime, but it did nothing for the milky spots. You reckon I'll have to strip it? I might be able to paint over the milky spots, but I'd have to paint the whole thing. It's black. I'm not sure what kind of wood is underneath.

I don't mind stripping it or repainting it, but I don't want to do more damage than has already been done. Though I'm not sure why I'm so protective of it when my kids have already called "not it" when it comes their turn to inherit the thing. It's pretty unique looking, but it has a sweet story of origin. My great-great-great-grandfather couldn't afford to buy one for his daughter when she got married and it was something she really wanted, so he made her one instead. Ever since then, the women in our family have received a display case as a wedding gift, to hold their new keepsakes, knickknacks, and other special mementos in. Huh, that sounds pretty sexist now that I think about it. Well, I'd gift one to any son or daughter of mine who was starting out on their own whether they were married or not.
It would be a shame to paint it. I would strip it and refinish it. It has a lot of sentimental value and should be preserved, if possible. It sounds like the finish absorbed moisture.

My wife and I used to own an antiques shop, and I would refinish a lot of the furniture we sold. I always tried to restore the furniture in the fashion in which it was made. For example, polyurethane is a modern finish, and not really appropriate for furniture. It sounds like it's a Victorian piece, or even older. I would strip it and use a natural stain to bring out whatever stain it originally had, and I would use laquer as the finish. Good luck, I hope yn restore it. Let me know if I can offer any advice. I'd sure like to see a picture of it.
 

Skyline

Farm Hand
Messages
67
Old furniture is always a headache for me to clean but there are many precious pieces of old furniture stored in my old house. I heard of baking soda as well, but it doesn’t work well for me all the time.
 

RichZ

Golden Chicken
Top Poster Of Month
Messages
184
Sometimes an old finish just doesn't clean up. I always try to salvage the original finish, but sometimes you have to refinish it. Sometimes a light sanding will take off the bad part of the old finish, and then you can use Minwax Natural stain on it to bring back the original color and then a couple of coats of lacquer. If the finish is really bad you have to use stripper and start all over again.
 
 
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