Cleaning Your Wood

Clean off dirt and loose debris first

  • Spray off dirt, sand, and mud with high pressure spray from a hose
  • Use stiff brush and sturdy picking tool (screw driver or knife) to get soft debris off
  • Only scrape off the very heaviest debris while wet, let dry for further removal

Thoroughly scrape off all weathered wood

  • The router blades for X-Acto or Excel handles are the basic tool, several shapes available
  • It is important to scrape -not gouge
  • Scrape with the grain. If catching, turn piece 180 degrees to work in opposite direction
  • If wood shreds, it can work well to scrape across the grain
  • On burls, scrape or wire brush in circular motions around the swirls to preserve designs

Moisten wood while scraping

  • Sometimes easier to scrape when wood is moistened with water or a combination of water and Murphy’s Oil Soap or other environmentally safe cleaner, diluted (50/50 oil/water)
  • Spray or paint on the mixture (sometimes the spray creates allergic reactions)
  • Softening can be done by dipping in hot water with some Murphy Oil added or just hot water
  • Clean areas will dry quickly, dull areas will need more cleaning
  • If shredding occurs, stop using moisture
  • Goop, GoJo or other non-pumice hand cleaners can then be used to help in cleaning

Cleaning tools

  • Stiff brushes for inside areas and crevices, and where texture is important to maintain
  • Various files, rifflers and rasps on hard-to-reach areas or battered edges
  • Always use tool toward the edge to avoid possibility of snagging the edge
  • Smaller areas can often be cleaned with smaller files and rifflers as well as different dental tools

Working oils

  • Basic working oils: Boiled Linseed Oil and Turpentine, Watco Danish Oil 80% and Turpentine 20%, Lemon oil
  • Use once grain of wood has been uncovered (router will often squeak), soft wood no longer comes off, and it is time to start sanding
  • Used to nourish, wood especially on dry, brittle wood where it can lessen cracks
  • Working oil gives clear indications as to where more cleaning needs to be done by darkening areas
  • Many people like to use working oil when sanding to help feed wood, to harden the surface and reveal areas that need more cleaning
  • Repeated applications should be reduced to 80/20 oil/turpentine
  • Apply to small areas at a time and clean or sand immediately or will become tacky
  • Test wood as working oils may darken
    Lexie Bakewell