Caring for Crazed Finishes

I applied a furniture polish to the left half of this crazed finish and paste wax to the right half (with an inch gap in the middle). The furniture polish highlights the crazing.

Here’s a problem you’re probably familiar with if you have old furniture or woodwork: finishes that are crazed. Old crazed finishes are very fragile. They damage easily. The best thing you can do to reduce damage is apply a slick furniture polish or paste wax.

Slick furniture polishes are those that contain silicone oil. This oil is much slicker than mineral oil, for example. You can put a dab of each oil between the thumb and forefinger of each hand and easily feel the difference when you rub them together. Most furniture polishes in aerosol containers and also Orange Glo contain silicone oil, though manufacturers never tell you this because refinishers, conservators and antique dealers have given “silicone” an undeserved bad reputation. But consumers love these polishes because they perform better than polishes that don’t contain silicone oil.

The problem with any furniture polish on a crazed finish, however, is that the polish highlights the crazing.

So for old crazed surfaces applying paste wax is the better solution.

2 thoughts on “Caring for Crazed Finishes

  1. Sullivans Papa

    Hello Bob,
    Thank you for your timely and informative posts. Will you post a column on how to refinish a crazed finish?

    1. Bob FlexnerBob Flexner Post author

      To me “refinish” means to strip the existing finish and put on a new one. So the crazing will be removed in the stripping. Sometimes when the crazing is superficial, not like the crazing pictured, you can sand through the crazing without sanding to the wood, and apply more finish on top. Shallac or varnish would be safest to use.

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