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Subject: Nakashima table

Nakashima table

From: Martin O'Brien <martinjob>
Date: Tuesday, September 11, 2007
Zbynek Jonak <zjonak [at] yahoo__com> writes

>We are treating several pieces of furniture at a private residence.
>One of the pieces is a large Nakashima dining table which has
>developed a dull, sticky finish. According to the owner, the
>housekeepers were using lemon oil for the top. As far as we know,
>Nakashima's pieces were finished with Tung oil. Would reapplication
>of Tung oil be marred by the Lemon oil residue? What would be the
>best way of cleaning the top besides mechanically with steel wool
>before application of Tung oil? Could a coat of hard wax
>(Butcher's)be applied over the Lemon oil? We would appreciate any
>ideas and insights.

A coat of Butcher's wax or other quality paste would be my
suggestion, but first you must clean the surface/remove the lemon
oil or else you will end up with an even duller and stickier finish.
You should start by doing some solvent testing.  My feeling is that
the stickiness/lemon oil/accumulated dirt can be mostly removed with
odorless mineral spirits or VM and P Naphtha.  Try it without steel
wool first.  It could be that you could follow-up this up with a
very dilute solution of deionized water and a non-ionic surfactant
such as Triton (availability is in question call your supplier for a
replacement product).

Unless the wax fails to give you proper color saturation, I would
not attempt to apply tung oil.  You might consider contacting the
Nakashima Studio.  I believe they are still quite active in New
Hope, PA.

Lemon Oil is typically (but not always) a non-drying oil like
mineral oil with an industrial perfume added.  It is generally
over-used and combines with dust, airborne oils (from cooking) and
other dirt to form the dull, sticky surface you describe.  I believe
that a hard paste wax polish is better because it is not a 'wet'
product like the lemon oil, provided it is applied thinly and almost
completely buffed off.

Don Williams of the Smithsonian has written quite a bit about
furniture polishes as has Bob Flexner in his book Understanding Wood
Finishing.  I would be happy to forward Don's paper on polishes to
you if you wish, but it may be on the Smithsonian MCI website

Martin O'Brien
Conservator in Private Practice
606 N. Trade St.
Winston-Salem, NC 27101

                  Conservation DistList Instance 21:25
                 Distributed: Saturday, October 6, 2007
                       Message Id: cdl-21-25-005
Received on Tuesday, 11 September, 2007

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