Wednesday, March 26, 2014

removing water stains from a dresser

I have a veneered 1928 dresser with Bakelite drawer pulls that I found at a thrift store a really lot of years ago. We were mostly broke at the time, so it was kind of a big deal. It came with a vanity and a headboard, too (which aren't currently in use); I think I carted it home piece by piece in my car? Or maybe I borrowed a truck? It was a lot of years ago. I was really into Bakelite at the time, so I was pretty excited.

Right before we left on our road trip to Montana a year and a half ago, I tipped over a glass of water that had been on top and it splashed and dripped all down the front. The water stains appeared right away. I mopped up all the water, made sure everything in the drawers was dry and in good shape, and hoped that the water stains might dry out and disappear by the time we returned.

But that's not how water stains work, as it turns out. I've just been staring at my ruined treasure since then, wondering whether it was salvageable or whether it'd have to wait until I could pull it out and completely refinish it.

Good news: while cleaning my room, I finally decided to do a little on-line research to see if there was a safe, non-toxic, simple solution that'd tide me over until refinishing. There is!

Denatured alcohol is recommended; as I don't have any of that, I used standard rubbing alcohol from my first aid box. I just poured a little on a wash cloth, and rubbed it on.

I had stared at those water stains for so long, I really didn't expect them to disappear so quickly, but they did. It worked so quickly that I didn't even take the time to run down the hall for my camera; I just snapped some quick photos with my smart phone. (Sorry about that.)

The alcohol took a little of the finish off, too (totally expected), so I followed up with some thorough drying and some paste wax.

Eventually the whole thing needs to be refinished (the shellac, like the shellac on my piano, is starting to crackle), but in the meantime, I don't have to stare at those accusatory water stains anymore. You might be amazed how much that improves the feeling I have when I walk into the bedroom, unless you've got some water stains of your own that you've been staring at for over a year. You will want to try this on your own.

Thanks for stopping in! 

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