After writing a blog post for 5 days in a row last week, I think I'm actually beginning to run out of material. But not just yet! I have to share with you my lovely little vintage high chair now that it's had a good cleaning and a little TLC.
When I bought it at "The Yard Sale" it was quite dirty and had some of the old finish that was basically flaking off. But I loved the time worn look that it had and meant to keep it. Since I was planning on putting this chair back to work, I knew it would need to be protected somehow so that spills wouldn't just absorb into the wood. However, I didn't want it to become shiny, which a polyurethane would do. So for a solution I turned to a blogger who is much more knowledgeable about such things than I am.
After reading over a very helpful post chock full of information written by Kristine at The Painted Hive, I decided that Danish Oil might be the product I ought to use on this beauty. Just to be sure, I e-mailed her a photo of the chair and asked her what she thought I should do. In just a couple of hours she'd replied and given me oodles of info!
Here's what she had to say:
Using a liquid sealer over any raw wood will inevitably cause some change in the timbers appearance. Try brushing on a little water to see if you like the look of the timber when it's damp. A sealer will most likely cause the same type of effect (perhaps a little lighter) though of course water will promptly dry whereas a sealer will penetrate the timber, locking in moisture and providing a (usually shiny) barrier, thus repelling stains and maintaining a richer look.
I would say you're right in that danish oil (sometimes called Scandinavian oil) is your best bet for a liquid sealer as it has a much more natural, subtle finish than poly. Another option would be to try beeswax. Beeswax is less penetrating than a liquid sealer so will maintain the silvers in your timber better though, while it does seal well when done properly, the seal is not as effective as a liquid based sealer.
She answered my question so thoroughly that I was left with no doubt that Danish oil was the way to go. While I really liked the "silver" look of the wood, I didn't want to take any chances using something that might not seal it from food stains. I'm so, so happy with the results!
It's not a dramatic change, but that's what I was hoping for! You can see that the wood was given an overall richer look and darkened quite a bit, but I don't mind that at all.
There's still quite a variation in the tones of wood throughout the chair which gives it tons of character. I also love that the Danish oil didn't add any sort of sheen to the wood. In some places it looks almost raw, but I know that it's protected.
Since the tray had split in a couple of places and had been "repaired" with some sort of glue before I bought it, the Danish oil caused the glue to become tacky and it stayed tacky. My solution was to lightly sand over the whole tray with fine sand paper, then just wiped one some satin polyurethane. This got rid of the tackiness and made me feel like the tray (which will obviously be the most used part of the chair) got a little extra protection. (Isn't that little leather strap adorable? It's attached to the underside of the tray and snaps to the bottom of the chair. Cute!)
Finnley hasn't had a chance to really use it yet, but doesn't he look excited?!
One more comparison for ya.
SUPER HUGE THANK YOU to Kristine for taking the time to answer my question, and for imparting so much wonderful information to a novice like me! I really love this chair and feel confident now in letting my little one actually use it.