Cleaning Furniture

Part of Metal Type’s Printing Advice section, here Phil discusses cleaning furniture.

Furniture is made of wood or iron or plastic or aluminium or lead.  I have found that a different cleaning process is best for all of these materials.

The easiest is wood, but it can be the cleaning method that produces the most dust.  

I use a small four inch wide belt sander with six inch disc.  I use the coarsest sanding paper for the disc that is obtainable and a pretty coarse grit for the belt.  I have a fairly powerful vacuum attachment on my machine to suck up the sanding dust and I can use this machine indoors quite safely.  To be entirely accurate there is two vacuums on this machine. One is for the disc and the other works on the belt only.

I sand only the edges and ends of the dirty wood furniture that I have, until I can see new surfaces that are mostly  free of ink.    I leave the top and bottom dirty as most of the time this wood furniture is just super dirty with many years of accumulated ink on the six surfaces.  Another reason is that I have found that I can obtain a good and tight lock up by cleaning the edges of the furniture only.  The top and bottom of wood furniture  play no part in a good lockup.

Cleaning Iron Furniture

The second easiest to clean furniture is that made of iron; and for that I use a power, rotary wire buffing wheel with a medium bristle.   But this time I clean, read here buff the four  edges  and  the  top  and bottom  surfaces .   You will  note here that most of the time cast iron furniture has a  sort of lip or edge on the top and bottom with the interior space sunken down and not  touching anything.  If that is dirty or ink encrusted, I just leave it alone.   I really do not know if I have adequately described this.  I don’t know what other words to use.  Please note here that this method also produces lots of ink dust and I mostly do this kind of cleaning outdoors in my driveway and then I sweep up this ink dust and discard in the garbage.

Cast Iron furniture that is cleaned in this manner and on these surfaces or edges will provide a good and tight lockup.

The solution for cleaning lead furniture is pretty easy.   A light sanding with medium coarse sand paper will do the job.   But one must be very careful as lead is way softer than iron and you can go too far really quickly. Place a new and full size sheet of sandpaper on a good flat surface grit side up, and manually rub the furniture over it.
Vacuum  the lead dust off after sanding each piece.

Apart from that, I just dump the lead furniture that is too dirty and cast new material or buy newer and cleaner material.  

Aluminium Furniture

Lastly for this writing, I will mention cleaning aluminium furniture.   And for this I  go to the automotive supply store and buy one of the commercial automobile carburetor cleaning solutions that is specially formulated for aluminium.  

However, I do this cleaning outside as these solutions  are quite smelly.  I have a large shallow oil drainage pan that was used to drain oil from car motors  and I fill this with the cleaning solution and fill the pan with aluminum furniture and let soak over night. This pan will hold a gallon of cleaning solution.

The next day all of the ink on the furniture will be loose and is easily scraped off with an ink pallet knife or a paint brush with stiff bristles.  I have a pile of old newspapers right beside this soaking pan and scrape or brush the thick accumulate of ink on to these papers and the let dry somewhat and then discard into the garbage.

Once thus cleaned, I wash the aluminum off with mild soapy water and then rinse in clear water and let air dry.  This will stop the cleaning action of the chemicals involved.

When I am finally finished with the job, the cleaning solution is pretty much spent and I put in old paint tins and take to the corner filling station and they accept this from me and add to their chemical waste to send back to their suppliers to be recycled.

All of the above cleaning methods have worked well for me and I have used these procedures for years.

I have never cleaned plastic furniture.