There are several factors to weigh when deciding to use polishes and waxes on furniture and other wooden objects. One critical factor is that the ingredients in commercial polishes and cleaning products are rarely disclosed. Moreover, these ingredients can be, and frequently are, changed without warning or notification. These ingredients may be harmless or harmful to the furniture (and to you) and you have no way of knowing in advance.
Polishing products are available in three forms: aerosol (spray); liquid; and semisolid. Here is a quick look at their benefits and drawbacks:
AEROSOLS (Spray Polishes): Aerosols are convenient. However, they have been among the worst offenders in introducing silicone oils and other contaminants onto furniture. In addition, they may contain solvents that attack varnishes and lacquers. While some of the "dusting" aerosols appear to be benign when applied to a cloth and not the piece of furniture, the result is similar to using a damp, clean dust cloth.
LIQUIDS: Like aerosols, liquid polishes are easy to use. There are two primary forms of commercial liquid products for "furniture care": emulsion cleaner or polishes and "oil type" polishes. Emulsion polishes are waxes, oils, detergents, organic solvents, and other materials suspended in water for ease of application. These products can be extremely powerful cleaners that leave a desirable sheen on the surface. However, the visual effect usually diminishes as the liquid dries. Moreover, like aerosols, emulsion polishes can introduce contaminants onto the furniture, but because they are liquids they place much more volume than sprays on the furniture surface.
Oil polishes are even more troublesome. Much like emulsion polishes, oil polishes can be a complex blend of ingredients including oils, waxes, perfumes, colorants, "cleaners," and organic solvents. They can render extremely pleasing surfaces and are used frequently as final finishes by themselves. However, oils used as polishes or cleaners can be very damaging.
- Nondrying oils (paraffin, mineral, and "lemon oil," which is usually mineral oil with colorants and perfumes added) tend to be more benign than drying oils, but even so some oil remains as a liquid on (or in) the object. Dust and other airborne contaminants readily stick to wet surfaces, especially oils. But nondrying oils don't undergo chemical reactions or directly damage the furniture.
- Drying oils, on the other hand, such as linseed, tung, or walnut oil, are a different matter altogether. These materials solidify, or "dry" through a chemical reaction with the air called oxidation. Over time this reaction makes them increasingly difficult to remove. Their permanence is fine if the oil is employed as the finish, but not good if it is used as a maintenance polish. By itself, having a polish that is difficult to remove would be an irritating but not an insurmountable problem. Unfortunately, as drying oils age they tend to yellow and in the presence of acids they are chromogenic (become Colored), turning a dark, muddy brown or opaque black.
- Traditionally, cleaning and polishing concoctions comprised of linseed oil, turpentine, beeswax, and vinegar (acetic acid) were widely used even in the museum field until recently. They turned out to be a disaster waiting to happen. The results of their use are readily apparent to even the casual observer: a thick incrustation of chocolate-colored goo that is neither hard enough to be durable nor soft enough to wipe off easily. The furniture is left with an unsightly coating that is very difficult to remove without damaging the underlying surface.
SEMISOLIDS: By virtually any measure semisolid polishes are the least damaging to wooden objects. Frequently called "paste waxes," these products are actually a very concentrated solution of waxes. Provided the ingredients do not include undesirable contaminants like silicone or high concentrations of damaging organic solvents such as alcohol, xylene, or toluene, paste waxes are an excellent polish for the surfaces of most wooden objets. Because waxes are exceedingly stable and don't cause many of the problems inherent in the previously mentioned polishes, they are the material of choice for furniture conservators and other caretakers of furniture and wooden objects. But paste waxes have their faults too: unfortunately, they require the most active contact with the surface of the furniture, and also need the most physical labor for proper application. Buffing out a wax polish can be very hard work, and in general, the better quality the wax, the harder the buffing that is needed. However, the results and benefits to the furniture are worth the extra effort. Fortunately, as the most durable and stable polishing material, paste wax needs to be applied much less often than aerosols or liquids. Ideally, wax polishing should be conducted no more than twice a year for areas of extremely heavy wear (desktops, chair arms, etc.) and once every three or four years for table and chair legs, cabinets, and similar areas. If a surface can no longer be buffed to the sheen appropriate for a waxed surface, it is likely that the wax has worn off. In that case, apply another light coat of wax to the affected area in accordance with the product instructions. Wax that is applied too frequently or improperly can build-up and cause an unsightly surface. When the wax is used correctly, however, the solvent content of the new wax will "clean off" any previous wax remaining on the surface and will simply integrate the old into the new.
Outlines the materials and rules necessary to organize and maintain a genealogy book or chart; also includes how to record data properly and tips on where to get started researching. Is there royalty in your bloodline? As interest in genealogy grows, the resources available are multiplying right along with it. Information is more widely accessible than ever before, but for beginners it can be a little confusing exactly how or where to start. The key to successfully discovering your roots is preparation and organization. The first thing one must do before stepping into the world of family history is make a notebook. Supplies can be obtained from a discount store or office warehouse. You will need: a three-ring notebook, dividers and/or tabs, pedigree charts, notebook paper, plastic slipcovers, pen and pencil, plastic pouch, and magnifying glass.
1. Purchase a three-ring binder. You will be surprised at how quickly you accumulate information, so do not skimp on size or quality. Make sure the metal rings meet evenly together, and clasp tightly. 2. Dividers and tabs: Dividers are necessary to separate the different family lines you research. You still need dividers to separate the different sources from where you glean your information. 3. Pedigree charts: Pedigree charts are available in Family History Kits and from genealogical organizations. These forms are a lateral representation of your family tree. Your name--along with your parents, grandparents, and great grandparents--can be listed with space permitted for personal information such as birth, death, and marriages. 4. Notebook paper is essential for jotting down notes and references. It is also necessary to create a research log (with names, dates, and sources researched) to prevent duplication of your inquiries.
5. Plastic sheet covers are sheets that are sealed around both sides and the bottom so that documents or photographs may be slipped inside from the top. Charts and computer printouts also benefit since no holes have to be punched into the paper. Make sure your sheet covers have pre-punched holes and fit correctly inside your notebook. 6. A sharp No. 2 pencil or quality ink pen that will not smear is essential for note taking. Notes should be written neatly the first time so that they do not have to be redone. Printing is preferred over cursive because it is easier to read. 7. A small plastic pouch with a zipper is a handy accessory to have in your notebook. This item totes your writing utensils and also can carry change necessary for copy machines and order forms. 8. A small magnifying glass is a helpful tool when searching through old or illegible documents. A genealogy notebook is best kept in alphabetical order. Write each surname on a tab or divider. Behind each section, add paper, pedigree charts (filled out as far as possible to the best of your knowledge), and a few plastic slipcovers. Do this behind every divider to create a unit for each family line. Do not forget to add a research log in the beginning of your notebook to keep track of your work and expenditures.
Once organized, familiarize yourself with the written formats used by genealogists. In most instances, you will find names, dates, and places written the same way. Names are recorded with the last name first, followed by the first name and middle initial. Nicknames are often added last in parentheses (for example: Doe, John A).
Dates are written with the day first, followed by the first three letters of the month, and then by the complete year (for example: 25 Dec 1999). Places have a preferred format as well. First listed is the city or town, followed by the county, and then the state and country (for example: Nashville, Davidson County, Tennessee, USA).
Once you have prepared your notebook and recorded all the information available from your relatives and personal records, you are ready to begin searching national and state archives to find your distant relatives. Again, preparation is the key. Study and learn about the different resources available to family historians and where to get them.
Some of the most helpful resources available are probate records, wills, periodicals and newspapers, and census information; cemetery, military, birth, death, and marriage records; and christening, baptism, and congregation indexes. Do not forget the Internet with its genealogical sites, clubs, and message boards. Many churches and states are now making available online many of the records mentioned above. These wonderful opportunities save time and money and are good ways to meet others searching for the very same family members you are.
With a little groundwork and a lot of enthusiasm, you can be your own family historian. It is an exciting hobby and will be of value to you and generations to come as you discover your ancestral roots.
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