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    • CommentTimeSep 5th 2009
    Thinking that my next project will be to brighten the kitchen cabinets. They are solid oak, and were built and installed 14 years ago. They now have a sticky film on the edges from kitchen oils and hands. As upcoming foot surgery will have me laid up for 2 to 3 months, this seems like a nice slow project that I can work on around the table, with my foot up.
    Questions: I was thinking to clean with pure alcohol then orange oil. But I just saw in info-mercal on the Orick steam cleaner, and I wonder is steam might work to cut the goo.
    After cleaning I was going to smooth the raised grain (some grain is now raised) with 600 grit paper.
    Then would I finish with Lacquer, Bulls Eye shellac, or poly?
    Forum expertize will be greatly appreciated.
    • CommentTimeSep 5th 2009
    Steam cleaning may be contra-indicated for several reasons. First and foremeost, most wood glues loose strength and go thermoplastic long before the boiling point of water. Steam also penetrates wood to a much greater depth than room-temperature water. If any of the food stains are water-soluble, this will carry them down into the wood far beyond the reach of what can be sanded out easily. Deep penetration of moisture will also mean that the stresses of the wood shrinking and swelling will far exceed those caused by changes in relative humidity. This may not only weaken the joints, but also cause some assemblies to warp or twist. Finally, moisture often reacts with the tannin in oak to create black stains. The water dissolves the tannin to make tannic acid, the acid reacts with the metal in a nearby fastener or sometimes just the minerals in the water and leaves a black streak.

    Other than that, I see no potential problems with a good steam cleaning. Try it and let us know how it turns out.

    With all good wishes,

    PS -- Wish you well on your upcoming surgery.
    • CommentAuthorAijca
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