Tag Archives: maintenance

Caring for Rustic and Reclaimed Furniture

We are often asked the best way to care for rustic and reclaimed furniture as well as stick work and driftwood furnishings.  LittleBranch Farms in Tennessee has put together a little primer published by mountainiving.com with great tips to help you keep your treasures looking their best for many years to come!

Caring for Rustic and Reclaimed Furniture

How Do I Protect My Stickwork Furniture?

There are certainly a wide array of products available on the market these days for giving your handcrafted stickwork furniture a protective coating.  Today I want to share with you the product we favor: Helmsman Spar Urethane by Minwax.  We love this product as it gives an excellent protection and it is readily available to most people.  It also comes in Gloss, Semi-Gloss and Satin finishes giving us a wide range of sheens for our artisan furniture.  Of course our focus for the product started with outdoor funiture, but I have to share that we have used it multiple times on furniture intended for indoor use, and I love the finish inside as well!

Minwax Helmsman Spar Urethane
Minwax Helmsman
Spar Urethane

We often give the horizontal surfaces of our handcrafted furniture several coats of Helmsman before making them available for sale. These surfaces are the most vulnerable to standing water and UV damage which can lead to issues.  We then instruct our customers that the pieces will benefit from additional applications in the following years as a matter of maintenance.  Obviously, outdoor furniture will require more maintenance than indoor pieces.

Jeff applying Helmsman to a      Stick-a-rondack chair
Jeff applying Helmsman to a
Stick-a-rondack chair

Taking a look at the Helmsman website (http://bit.ly/1oXXAzS), it is really easy to see why we favor this product so much:

Minwax® Helmsman® Spar Urethane is specially formulated as a protective clear finish for exterior or interior wood exposed to sunlight, water, or temperature changes.

  • Contains UV blockers to reduce the sun’s graying and fading effects.
  • Forms a protective barrier against rain and moisture.
  • Special oils allow the finish to expand and contract with the wood as seasons and temperatures change.
  • Ideal for use on doors, windows, trim, bathroom cabinets, bar tops, kitchen countertops, outdoor furniture.

Here’s a sample of our Stickwork furniture to which we have given several coats of Helmsman Spar Urethane…

rack3 LIChairs2.5

DIY Projects –

Today I conquered the dishwasher!  The battle was not heated, but it was fought across territory that was very unfamiliar to me.  The fact that I prevailed has surprised me.  The best weapon?  My iPhone.  I was able to take photos of the parts all spread out so that I

DIY DIshwasher cleanout

could check that I had nothing left outside the dishwasher when I thought I had it all back together (surely, someone besides me has had the experience of getting something back together only to find a screw that ought to be attached to something inside whatever you just reassembled?)

Let me share with you that I am a convert to doing routine maintenance on the dishwasher.  Our dishwasher is 7 years old, and I had never before done what I did today. I became aware of the process of cleaning out the dishwasher because the dishes on the bottom rack were routinely coming out of the dishwasher with more debris on them that what they had when they were put in before the wash cycle.  A little research on the web, and I found www.appliancerepair.net/dishwasher-repair.html.  A deep breath, and I was off and running to find the right screwdriver to take on this project.

The disassembly was amazingly quick – I had all the parts removed in less than 10 minutes.  What took a really long time was cleaning the gunk off all those parts!  I spent almost an hour cleaning!  Calcium had built up just about everywhere, and where it wasn’t there were other strange substances: 2 toothpicks, one square plastic clip that comes on loaves of bread, a few strands of alfalfa, 3 or 4 popcorn kernels, and one small plastic tip that had broken off a removable basket from the dishwasher.  No wonder there was water standing in the bottom most of the time after the dishwasher had been run!

Reassembly was almost as fast as taking things apart – about 15 minutes – mostly due to my trying to install one piece too soon and having to take it back out when I realized things were out of order.

I have now run the dishwasher for its inaugural load, and I can honestly say that the volume of noise is significantly reduced, and everything on the bottom rack came out clean!

So, how does this apply to artisan stickwork furniture made from natural materials?  Good question!  It really does.  Stickwork furniture, although fairly rustic and tough stuff in the furniture realm, can still benefit from some routine maintenance, especially if it is being used as outdoor furniture.  Covering furniture for the winter months with a tarp, or relocating to a protected garage or covered patio area is optimum.  Additionally, we like to tell people that a coat or two of Helmsmans Spar Urethane is a great way to give stickwork furniture the advantage in all weather and in all climates.