Ask the Expert! – Wood Reviver

With the launch of our first newsletter last month we have introduced ‘Ask the Expert!’   a great way for you find practical, tried and tested, advice on vintage furniture renovation, upcycling techniques, or tips on how to care for you precious piece to keep it in tip-top condition. Just email us and we’ll do our very best to answer them for you.

This week Andrea has asked the expert! – “I have 2 badly neglected & stained vintage tables, have just rescued them from an outhouse. mould, badly dried out in some areas & showing bare wood. I am a wheelchair user with little strength & energy. I’ve put on a quick application of beeswax polish. Is there anything else I can do which I can manage with my limitations? “

Our expert’s reply;

“The type of staining would depend on the timber these tables are made from; if they are Teak or Oak then the stains could be black (a reaction of water with Tannic acid in the timber) and so they would need bleaching.  If the stains are not black then we would use a reviver ( available online , or you can make it yourself – see recipe ideas below) on the tops to clean and balance the colour. Then we’d assess the results and decide if they needed a more severe approach such as in sanding. If not, then we would finish off with an appropriate stain and then beeswax.”

Making the perfect wood reviver

Recipe 1

Ingredients 1 part linseed oil, 2 parts methylated spirits, 2 parts turpentine, 2 parts distilled vinegar

Method – Put all the above into a bottle and shake well. Apply to furniture a little at a time, small amounts and rub in well.

Recipe 2

Make your own reviver by mixing 1 part malt vinegar, 1 part methylated spirit, 1 part linseed oil.

Method – Mix well in an empty jam jar, put a lid on it and it will last for months. Apply to furniture a little at a time, small amounts and rub in well.

If the surface isn’t too bad then you can just wax polish the surface; it isn’t always necessary to clean off first if the surface has a relatively good finish.  To find out what the surface finish is, try a test patch in an inconspicuous area with a cloth moistened with methylated spirits. If the cloth becomes grey you are merely removing wax polish, but if brown stains appear on the cloth this will mean you are dissolving the French polish. Therefore you cannot use a cleaner which contains Methylated Spirit, on a French Polished surface.

Recipe 3

  1. Add equal parts linseed oil and turpentine to a glass jar or metal container. Do not use plastic because it may react with the turpentine or linseed oil and melt the container. Use raw linseed oil for outdoor furniture and boiled linseed oil for indoor furniture.
  2. Shake the ingredients to emulsify them.
  3. Dip the corner of a soft cloth into the mixture. Rub a light application onto the surface. Allow the mixture to sit on the surface for five minutes.
  4. Rub the excess mixture off the surface with a soft cloth, lint-free cloth until it feels dry and no longer sticky to the touch. Outdoor furniture may feel slightly tacky and oily. The sticky feel will dissipate as the oil evaporates. Drying times vary depending on temperature and humidity.

About resourcevintage2014

Fabulous Upcycled Midcentury and Vintage Furniture, handfinished by Volunteers and Trainees
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2 Responses to Ask the Expert! – Wood Reviver

  1. Guillermo says:

    Hi guys,

    I hope you can help, I’ve just sanded my kitchen table and then applied wood reviver, this really made the table shine and brought it back to live.
    After this I noticed I’ve made some scratches on the table while sanding, so I decided to sand part of the table again so erase these marks, i managed to do this
    then I applied more wood reviver, but I think now there is a bit of excess on the table and this is visible.
    I’m planning to apply Frech Polish as a finish, but before I do this I would like to get rid of the excess.
    would you advice using dry/wet sanding paper to clear this excess and then apply the French Polish?

    Thanks very much for your help in advance

    Kind Regards


    • Hi!
      thank you for your query; In the workshop we use reviver for cleaning off old wax and dirt, or getting rid of heat / water marks to save us sanding. Once the top was sanded there should have been no need to revive. If there is an excess of reviver now you should use a course wire wool such as ‘0’ grade working with the grain. The most important thing is that you get all the linseed oil off as this can potentially bleed through your French polish and cause blemishes to appear.
      Hope this was of some help to you.


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