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I have a set of wooden pieces, bought by myself in Frankfurt about thirty-five years ago. They're a bit dingy, lots of wear. I just bought a new wooden board for them, and I want to spruce up the pieces for their new home.
I've got lemon oil for the final finish, and I would like some ideas on the best way to clean the years of dirt before I do the final shine. I have no idea what kind of wood they are made of, the Whites are a natural wood finish, the Blacks a simple thin, worn paint. Thanks!
I would clean first with an old toothbrush to get the old paint/dirt out. Then apply some 'Circa 1850' paint stripper and let sit for about 5 minutes. Put lots on with the same toothbrush. Brush off the peeled paint. You might have to do it a few times to get most of it off...
Ive done lots of furniture with this method, but nothing as small as chess pieces.
I wouldn't use paint stripper, at least not at first. My preferred method is to mix a bowl of warm water and Murphy's Oil Soap . . . quickly dip each piece in the soapy mixture, scrub lightly with a soft toothbrush, rinse quickly, then place on paper towels to dry. If any spots seem particularly soiled you can brush them a bit longer before the rinse.
If they look dull after the wash and rinse, you can treat them with some paste wax . . . apply lightly, let dry, them rub with a soft cloth to shine.
The water/Murphy's soap treatment will usually loosen old felts, too--it's a good time to replace those.
What I ended up doing is gently washing the pieces with a toothbrush and a mild, diluted liquid body soap. Then I rubbed in lemon oil with a soft cloth. They still look suitibly worn, but aren't dirty anymore and have a nice sheen to them. Next step is to replace the felt with pool table cloth scraps.
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