Furniture Care


The wood in your piece of furniture was dried in a wood kiln in a carefully orchestrated process that left the wood at 6% moisture content. From that point on the wood is exposed to the ambient relative humidity and temperature of its environment. Where I live and work in Central Texas most furniture wood stabilizes between 10% - 12% moisture content. Wood acts like a sponge absorbing moisture and swelling during humid times and drying out and shrinking during periods of low relative humidity. This is a natural process which, if monitored and controlled in the extremes, will not result in permanent damage to a piece of furniture. As a piece of furniture that contains panels ages you will begin to notice in the dry season a subtle line where the panel has shrunk. This is normal and in the next humid season it will expand.

Relative Humidity should be maintained between 40%-60% in your home. Obviously, this will vary from time to time but extended periods of very high humidity or very low humidity will cause problems for drawers, doors, solid wood panels and finish. Avoid storing fine furniture in attics, basements, near fireplaces, wood stoves or heating vents. Relative humidity can be monitored with inexpensive thermometers and hygrometers available at a hardware or electronics store. Humidifiers and dehumidifiers can be used to keep your home within a range that will protect your investment.

Light, in particular direct sunlight, can be very damaging to wood and finishes. The finishes I use contain a ultra violet (UV) block but it can only slow down the negative effects of bleaching and drying of wood and finish caused by direct sunlight. Modern windows also use UV block which can help but the Furniture Conservationist of Historic and Artistic Works recommend keeping valuable pieces out of any direct sunlight, utilizing blinds or curtains to block direct sunlight.


No amount of oil can be added to a piece of furniture to prevent it from drying out if the relative humidity remains below 30% for an extended period of time. The pre-catalyzed lacquer I use does not require any special ointment.  I recommend dry dusting to clean your furniture. The dust rag can be slightly moistened to help it hold the dust. I do not recommend lemon oil because it tends to remain wet and collect dust. Drying oils labeled as "Danish Oil" contain linseed or tung oil which can be built into a finish but contain little protection against moisture. Silicone polishes create a film that is difficult to remove and hampers future efforts at re-finishing. I have in the past used oil based rub-on finishes but have moved away from them because of the fragility of the finish when it comes to moisture. This decision came from living with these finishes. Of course, if you prefer, I can finish your piece as you would like. Please feel free to talk to me about this decision.