Stabilizing Wet Furniture and Wood

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Facts about wood[edit | edit source]

Because wood is porous it will easily take up and release water and expand and contract.

What to expect when wood gets wet[edit | edit source]

  • Because wood move differently in different directions, contracting at different rates it is prone to warping and cracking as it dries.
  • Surface layers on artifacts (e.g. paints and varnishes)become fragile when damp, and are easily lost or damaged so great care is needed in handling.
  • Hide or fish glues commonly used on wooden objcts and furniture are softened by moisutre, so joins may separate and veneers may lift.
  • Drawers and doors may stick.
  • Mold may grow on damp wooden surfaces

Drying wood[edit | edit source]

  • If wood is fully wet and dirty consider rinsing it with clean water
  • Pat dry, don't wipe
  • Dry slowly, not in direct heat; cover with polyethylene to slow drying if necessary
  • If possible, open doors and drawers to allow air to circulate
  • Remember that you can take the back off if you need to
  • Be prepared to freeze show fabrics from upholstered items. If you have cotton stuffing material you will almost certainly need to replace it. Horsehair stuffing can usually be saved.

Salvage priorities[edit | edit source]

  • Objects of composite construction (e.g. musical instruments objects with inlay)
  • Objects with veneer/fine surfaces