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Amish Furniture Maintenance

Amish furniture is hand crafted by some of the finest Amish wood craftsmen in the Country. If you want to make your purchase last for generations there are steps that must be taken to care for your Amish furniture. Poor maintenance will cause the stain and sealers to start breaking down and allow the elements to destroy your fine Amish furniture.

The following information on repairs and maintenance is based on your Amish finishing shop using a “conversion varnish finish”. You can read about conversion varnish in the “finishes” section. If you are unsure of your finish ask your Amish furniture sales staff.


Maintaining your furniture

• Use of wax and polishes

• Humidity and Amish Furniture

• Floor protecting pads

• Amish Furniture Repair


Keep your Amish Furniture out of direct sunlight and away from heat.

Direct sunlight is the most natural element that destroys Amish furniture finishes. Paste wax and polishes DO NOT block the penetration of sunlight on the Amish furniture.

Oxidation is the process of oxygen actually breaking down the Amish furniture finish. This occurs when Amish furniture sits next to a high heat source for years. Oxidation will turn the finish a darker color. Just remove a piece of old hardware from an antique and you will see the difference.

Maintain your homes humidity in the 35% to 45% range.

Dust the table “with the grain”

Clean table with soap and water. Dry with a clean towel or rag.

Avoid polishes that contain silicones.

Use coasters, hot pads, and try to protect the finish from physical abuse.



Furniture Polishes, Waxes, etc.

There is a huge marketing campaign trying to convince people that their products will “protect” and “replenish” your furniture’s hardwood oils or that it will “feed the wood”. Fact is wood does not need to be fed as there are no natural oils in the hardwoods that Amish furniture craftsmen use. Most Amish furniture craftsmen use conversion varnish which completely seals off the wood from the elements. Waxes and polishes actually just “sit” on top of the varnish finish, never penetrating into the wood.


• What will furniture polish do for Amish furniture?

It will add a “temporary” amount of “protection” until the furniture polish evaporates. This may take from an hour to a day depending on the situation.

It will add a temporary shine or luster to the surface.

Help clean grease and fingerprints from the surface and give the room a nice scent (if scented).


• What furniture polish will NOT do for Amish furniture:

Waxes or polishes will NOT stop the elements of sunlight, oxidation and physical abuse on your Amish furniture. It will NOT stop the drying out or cracking of finishes or protect against heat or solvents. Waxes and polishes will add luster to the top finish to give the illusion of a fresh coat of “protection” on the surface. Often the manufacturer will add some scent. This is only added for the pleasure of the nose, not to protect the wood.


Question: You say nothing will actually “protect” the surface?
So what are the best products to add luster and clean the surface of the Amish furniture?

This question is best answered by asking yourself what is most important to your household. Are you looking for a longer lasting shine or easy dusting? If a long lasting shine is your goal try using paste wax. There are many different types on the market. If your goal is easy cleanup of fingerprints and the “fresh” look and smell in the room we recommend using a furniture polish. Try to find one that has a slower evaporation rate. Remember once the product evaporates off the surface there is no more limited protection.


Humidity and Amish Furniture: Sticky table tops and drawers...

Wood is hydroscopic. That means the tree is basically like a big straw sucking needed nutrients from the ground to the heights. Water in these “straws” is either liquid water or water vapor (humidity).

Amish furniture wood is much like a sponge. If you bring a piece of Amish furniture that was in a high moisture area into a dry or low moisture area, the wood must “release” the extra moisture into the air. This release of moisture will cause the wood to shrink. Wood swells and shrinks more around the growth rings of the tree. This constant exchange of moisture is natural, but the Amish must account for this movement or the wood may crack. STICKING TABLE TOPS: Sometimes the Amish furniture craftsmen builds the table parts a bit "tight". During transport the Amish furniture travels across the Country in a non air conditioned vehicle. Sometimes the furniture enters a very different temp and climate than where it was built. This may cause your Amish dining table to stick shut. Our best remidy is time. Give the table a week in your home and get the humidity level normal. Summer humidity can cause some table tops to stick fairly tight. When you get the table open you can apply some wax on the dowel pins and slides. We have found that works the best.

Rule of thumb:

If you live in a high moisture area and have no ability to control your humidity level (you don’t have a humidifier), give some extra thought to buying Amish furniture built from quartersawn white oak. White oak is naturally resistant to water damage and the quatersawing places the growth rings nearly vertical. This causes the wood to “swell” nearly vertical. This allows the wood to expand and contract with little chance of twisting, cupping or cracking.


Floor Protection Pads:

It is highly recommended that after purchasing Amish furniture that you invest in bumper pads for the table legs and chair bottoms. They can be nailed or glued to the bottom of Amish chairs and they protect the floor from being scratched. They also help buffer a slightly uneven floor so the chairs will not wobble. You can purchase them at your local home center.


Amish Furniture Table repairs:

Cigarette Burns:

Minor burns can be fixed by rubbing with a paste or linseed oil and rottenstone. You can get these items at your local hardware store. Work with the grain pattern while rubbing.


Heat Marks:

Rub with the grain with a dry steel wool soap pad, extra fine (0000) steel wool or a cloth damp with mineral spirits. Work slow and rub soft.


Nail Polish:

Blot the spill immediately, then rub with fine steel wool (0) dipped in guardsman furniture polish. Wipe dry.


Paint:

If fresh, remove latex paint with water. If the paint is oil based use mineral spirits.


Water Marks:

Rings are often in the wax, not the finish. Most of the high end Amish dining tables are finished with conversion varnish. Rub with white toothpaste, mayonnaise or salad oil and wipe dry.


Wax or gum:

Harden the spot by holding an ice cube wrapped in a cloth until hard. Pry off with your fingernail. Rub the area with extra fine (0000) steel wool if needed. Use a bit of mineral spirits if needed. Wipe dry.


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