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Need help repairing cigarette smoke damage to oak roll top desk

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Forum topic by Sabre posted 08-27-2016 04:06 PM 2282 views 0 times favorited 17 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Sabre

5 posts in 105 days


08-27-2016 04:06 PM

Topic tags/keywords: oak question finishing

Father past away and left my wife and I a large oak roll top desk he and mom bought back in the 70’s. Both smoked heavily and the desk smells so strong we have not been able to bring it into the house. In some areas the finish was actually tacky and it stuck to the moving pads we protected it with when we picked it up. We spent last weekend and several times this past week ‘gently’ wiping it down switching between Mineral spirits, Vinegar, and Murphy’s wood cleaner being careful to blend the overall appearance of the piece as we go and avoiding streaks and light spots. We’ve removed a lot of the smell but it is still to strong to bring into the house. We would appreciate any help or advice anyone has.
I’ve been a woodworker for over 40 years but finishes are not my strong suit.


17 replies so far

View jbay's profile (online now)

jbay

819 posts in 366 days


#1 posted 08-27-2016 04:18 PM

I would try a citrus orange cleaner. Test on an inconspicuous place first though.
Something like these:
https://www.amazon.com/Trewax-Natural-Cleaner-Degreaser-32-Ounce/dp/B000I18QYS/ref=sr_1_3/153-4573421-1525429?ie=UTF8&qid=1472314583&sr=8-3&keywords=citrus+orange+cleaner

https://www.amazon.com/Magic-NA200-Citrus-Orange-Cleaner/dp/B002UIW66Q/ref=sr_1_4/153-4573421-1525429?ie=UTF8&qid=1472314583&sr=8-4&keywords=citrus+orange+cleaner

-- My “MO” involves Judging others, playing God, acting as LJs law enforcement, and never admitting any of my ideas could possibly be wrong or anyone else's idea could possibly be correct -- (A1Jim)

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diverlloyd

1451 posts in 1324 days


#2 posted 08-27-2016 04:43 PM

+1 on the citrus cleaner and you may need to do some scrubbing. Tar and nicotine can be a tough one to clean. Dawn dish soap works well to.

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jwmalone

769 posts in 169 days


#3 posted 08-27-2016 04:50 PM

Ive used the citrus as well with fairly decent results. Unfortunately I’ve also had to strip and refinish pieces that have been exposed to that much smoke, It eventually works its way down into the finish and the wood just like moister would:(

-- "Boy you could get more work done it you quit flapping your pie hole" Grandpa

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Sabre

5 posts in 105 days


#4 posted 08-27-2016 05:46 PM

jbay; Thank you for your help we’re on Lowes nor Wal-mart had any true citrus cleaners, we’re on amazon now looking at options.
diverlloyd; Your right about the Dawn, Forgot to mention that we did use Dawn and it did a great job on removing the tacky finish from the piece.
jwmalone: you may be right it may need to be completed refinished which would be sad, it has a beautiful orange glow to it now with light witness areas where my moms desk pad, phone and other items sat for years.
Thank you all again for taking time to help.

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Luthierman

157 posts in 554 days


#5 posted 08-27-2016 06:12 PM

There is also trisodium phosphate. I used to do fire restoration and we used that stuff constantly to remove smoke damage. It also worked really well on nicotine stains. Any hardware store has it. Most of the time its just labeled TSP.

-- Jesse, West Lafayette, Indiana

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Gene Howe

8262 posts in 2896 days


#6 posted 08-27-2016 06:22 PM

Sounds like you’ve got the surfaces pretty clean.
For the deeper odors, ry putting small bowls of baking soda in all the drawers and a couple or three on the desk top and close it up. Let it set for at least a week. Then see if the odor is gone. Do it again for any odor that lingers.

-- Gene 'The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.' G. K. Chesterton

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Sabre

5 posts in 105 days


#7 posted 08-27-2016 06:51 PM

Luthiermann; I saw the TSP at Lowe’s but I thought it said it wasn’t recommended for wood. I’ll check it out again.
Gene; thanks for the info, we have a roll of plastice and will wrap it up tonight with the baking soda in it.

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gator9t9

322 posts in 3172 days


#8 posted 08-27-2016 08:39 PM

Did you remove the tamboor rolling door….remove and replace…...the cloth on that door.And fill every drawer with.
Cedar shavings.leave it for a good month…...if that does not work. Its down to bare wood on every piece
Of the desk…..and roll top desks have a lot of parts….....and dont forget the secret compartment.

Good luck

Gator9t9

-- Mike in Bonney Lake " If you are real real real good your whole life, You 'll be buried in a curly maple coffin when you die."

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MrUnix

4244 posts in 1666 days


#9 posted 08-27-2016 08:48 PM

Sounds like you ve got the surfaces pretty clean.
For the deeper odors, ry putting small bowls of baking soda in all the drawers and a couple or three on the desk top and close it up. Let it set for at least a week. Then see if the odor is gone. Do it again for any odor that lingers.
- Gene Howe

Along those lines, I got a tip from a contractor years ago that works wonders… coffee. Sprinkle it around, put it in bowls, whatever. If it can get rid of the smells in an old refrigerator after the power was out for over a month, it can get rid of just about anything :)

Cheers,
Brad

-- Brad in FL - To be old and wise, you must first be young and stupid

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Sabre

5 posts in 105 days


#10 posted 08-27-2016 08:57 PM

Thankso Gator, it has a removal back and the tambour can be removed easily, odd thing is it has barely a smell to it, might be because it was never closed.
Thanks Brad, adding coffee and baking powder to the mornings shopping list

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gator9t9

322 posts in 3172 days


#11 posted 08-27-2016 09:34 PM

Ah the good old days…...coffee and a pall mall….

Gator9t9

-- Mike in Bonney Lake " If you are real real real good your whole life, You 'll be buried in a curly maple coffin when you die."

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Sabre

5 posts in 105 days


#12 posted 09-05-2016 10:10 PM

Thanks to everyone’s suggestions we were able to eliminate the smoke smell and move the desk inside. Went to walmart and Picked up a couple of cans of cheap coffee and a couple of boxes of baking soda and a pack of the red plastic party mix bowls. I had the top, pedestal and drawers sprayed on different work benches and placed multiple bowls of coffee and baking soda in and on each piecend. We then wrapped everything up in plastic and leg it sit for 3 days.
When we unwrapped everything I was strummed at how faint of an oder remained. We then wiped it down wit orange citrus Woods cleaner and brought it in th house.
Thanks again for the fast and friendly advice.

View jwmalone's profile

jwmalone

769 posts in 169 days


#13 posted 09-05-2016 10:40 PM

Beautiful desk, glad you didn’t have to strip it :)

-- "Boy you could get more work done it you quit flapping your pie hole" Grandpa

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woodbutcherbynight

2457 posts in 1876 days


#14 posted 09-06-2016 01:56 AM

Nice desk, and a heirloom good you were able to preserve it minus the stains and smell.

-- Live to tell the stories, they sound better that way.

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BurlyBob

3695 posts in 1733 days


#15 posted 09-06-2016 03:16 AM

Good job. I’d give anything to have a great desk like that. It is totally amazing.

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