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Cleaning Off Skin Grease From Bare Wood


Debora B

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Hi every one,

 

I have a question that might be answered on this forum, but my search was unfruitful. And on the net (WWW) i could not find it either so here it goes;

 

How do i get skin grease/dirt from bare wood?

 

Most answers on the internet assume you want to clean finished furniture from the film that builds up (dust, skin particles and grease etc) over the years. Suggestions are made to use vinegar, but will that be as effective on unfinished (pear) wood?

 

Although i did wash my hands as often as someone with a microbe phobia, sad to say my small and detailed carvings have gotten a tiny bit of stain from my hands, handling the pieces while carving :( I always test things out, and thought of making a test piece to find out about cleaning. But that would mean extra carving (to simulate the intricate 3d surface where high points suffer the most from being effected) and extended exposure to being handled would take me another week (?) to make a test piece itself, so i figured i might as well just ask?

 

The problem is the carving is very detailed and small so i want to stay away from abrasives as much as i can. I tried steel wool (0000) in an tiny invisible corner, but that seemed to merely polish the film ;) Any suggestions on vinegar perhaps? All other comments would be highly appreciated,

 

Thanks! Debora

 

ps. i've added some pics to sort of explain, the work is not finished though.

post-3337-0-76694700-1376474046.jpg

post-3337-0-28311100-1376474048.jpg

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Hi Debora,

 

I know exactly what you are describing. I eventually began to wear white gloves during the detail carving phase which keeps the boxwood that I use cleaner. These gloves are really cheap and purchased by the bundle.

 

As a suggestion, which I have not tried on a carving but did on an un-finished door that sees much use at our studio, I used acetone on a rag and removed a significant amount of the residue from our hands touching the door in a certain place. I have acetone and denatured alcohol for various purposes in my studio, and use acetone to clean mammoth tusk before staining and silver before patina.

 

You might try acetone on a firm cotton swab or on a rag shaped to suit your needs while cleaning the detail. It is my hope that this will clean the wood and not raise the wood grain. I will try it some time. I do not have a piece dirtied by handling at the moment though.

 

Good luck,

 

Janel

 

PS I purchase both acetone and denatured alcohol at a hardware store.

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Hi Janel, thanks so much for your speedy response! Funny you mention the white gloves. Those had crossed my mind too, but i sort of discarded them. Like working in the garden without gloves, i love to feel what i'm doing. I know they are cheap to get by, but the pair i once bought were too big (very small hands) and they felt a bit too smooth? ...so I sort of lost grip. I then went on and tried bandaging tape (3M Vetrap). It sticks to itself, not on your fingers and at the same time protects your fingers a bit from cuts (should they occur). Wrapping my thumb and first finger sort of helped, but i found myself preferring bare hands.

 

I've learned my lesson now, cos being hard headed i was faced with a bit of cleaning, even while trying to be phobically clean. Your tip worked well; I just tried a bit of alcohol and cautious and gentle cleaning seemed to have fixed it. At least to the stage it's acceptable, no raising of the grain either :)

 

Guess i have to make wrapping my finger tips a habit then. Thin! :))

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Hi Debora,

 

Phew! I am relieved that it was a good suggestion. The gloves I purchased are these or similar to these. S-7892L for Ladies. I cut the finger tips off of the tool holding fingers and the fingers that touch the wood the glove fingers are left intact. I also cover the wad of poster tacky stuff that is on my carving peg because it may impart a tiny bit of oil to the wood.

 

I am glad that the suggestion was helpful.

 

Janel

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hi Debora / Janel

 

yup, gloves and clean hands; there is an fine abrasive wheel jewellers use 18mm in diameter, I use it some time, alcohol also works on boxwood with a tooth brush.

 

Don't know anything about pear wood.

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