Old Christmas Sleigh - Preserving question

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Forum topic by dakremer posted 09-29-2017 03:12 AM 615 views 0 times favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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2672 posts in 3088 days

09-29-2017 03:12 AM

My neighbor approached me the other day (because she knows I’m a woodworker) and asked how to clean up/preserve an old christmas sleigh she has. She has been keeping it in her basement for years, and it looks like it has mold or something on it. (see pics below)

She’s wondering how she should clean it to get the “green stuff” off, and also what (if anything) she should put on it, to preserve it? A type of oil or something? I have absolutely not idea, so figured I’d ask you guys….

-- Hey you dang woodchucks, quit chucking my wood!!!!

12 replies so far

View diverlloyd's profile


2730 posts in 1854 days

#1 posted 09-29-2017 03:39 AM

Charles Neil did a video on stripping and cleaning with a baking soda blaster. I think I would go that route it would be quicker then cleaning by hand and scrubbing. There are also companies that use dry ice to clean off black mold in homes that uses a blaster to.

View dakremer's profile


2672 posts in 3088 days

#2 posted 09-29-2017 04:10 AM

That’s a cool method. I’ve never seen that before. However I don’t have a sand blaster. Also I don’t want it to ruin the paint job.

-- Hey you dang woodchucks, quit chucking my wood!!!!

View Rich's profile


2813 posts in 586 days

#3 posted 09-29-2017 04:56 AM

I’d start with denatured alcohol. I’ve found that on old finishes it does a good job of cleaning off the crud without affecting the finish very much. If that doesn’t work, I’d move on to some acetone or lacquer thinner and see if that gives you the cleaning you want. A stencil brush will help to scrub into some of those fine details. Finally, if none of that works, some oxalic acid will remove stains and clean up the surface. Be sure to wear protection and rinse the area with plenty of fresh water when you’re done.

Play around on areas that don’t show to begin with. If you get results that you’re happy with, you can expand the area.

If you get it cleaned up the way you want it, a light spray of shellac will help protect it in the future, or if you want a softer sheen, some satin or flat lacquer will protect it as well. I like Mohawk products, but the spray cans of Deft lacquer or Zinsser Bulls Eye shellac from HD will work fine.

-- No matter how much you push the envelope, it'll still be stationery.

View ScottM's profile


643 posts in 2143 days

#4 posted 09-29-2017 12:00 PM

I’d find out first exactly what she is expecting. Does she just want it cleaned and preserved or does she want a complete “restoration”? However, I do agree with the “finish” of shellac or lacquer since you, and she, probably don’t know what sort of finish, if any, is currently on it.

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

20476 posts in 3102 days

#5 posted 09-29-2017 12:36 PM

If the intent is to preserve that painting, I’d be careful using a solvent on it, not knowing what kind of paint it is and what finish was used on the wood. Some of the parts might be stained and that would be hard to redo with it all glued together if it was removed with a solvent. Rich has a good idea of experimenting in areas that don’t show.
cheers, Jim

I don’t know about soda a blasting but that might work and the painting would have to be covered for protection. I’d try a water based cleaner to start with. If it has mold and dirt on it some ammonia and bleach mixture might clean it enough to be resprayed. It depends on what your neighbor expects, but I’ll bet that that painting is wanted to be preserved.

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View dakremer's profile


2672 posts in 3088 days

#6 posted 09-29-2017 02:15 PM

Yes, she just wants to preserve it, not really restore it to “new”

Basically she wants to clean up all the mold and crud, and then protect it with something to stop moisture, etc from ruining it any further.

I told her to just start with some mildly soapy water to try and get the mold off – not soaked, but just a damp rag

-- Hey you dang woodchucks, quit chucking my wood!!!!

View Rich's profile


2813 posts in 586 days

#7 posted 09-29-2017 02:21 PM

Thanks, Jim. I didn’t mention the mural and I should have. You definitely don’t want to use any sort of solvent on that area. A few drops of dish soap in some water — or ammonia like Jim mentioned — should remove grime, but again, try it on a tiny spot that’s as inconspicuous as possible. Or, possibly just mask it off and leave it alone.

Also, nothing I mentioned was intended suggest a refinish of the piece. That’s risky. All I was suggesting was a thorough cleaning and some sort of sealer to protect the wood.

Then again, there’s good old Murphy’s oil soap :)

Here is a short video by Tom Johnson where he cleans, without refinishing, an old chest. It might be useful, as well as several other of his videos. I’ve learned a lot of tricks from him that I use on my work.

-- No matter how much you push the envelope, it'll still be stationery.

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

4929 posts in 3957 days

#8 posted 09-29-2017 02:32 PM

I use Murphey Oil Soap when in doubt. Vegetable soap (I think), and it has never damaged anything.
Whatever is done should be done outdoors due to all the mold. Don’t wanna be inhaling that stuff.


View helluvawreck's profile


31056 posts in 2863 days

#9 posted 10-03-2017 02:44 PM

This is a beautiful sleigh and I sure do hope that you will post it after you restore it.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View sras's profile


4796 posts in 3126 days

#10 posted 10-03-2017 03:16 PM

Q-tips – lots of them

-- Steve - Impatience is Expensive

View dakremer's profile


2672 posts in 3088 days

#11 posted 10-03-2017 08:12 PM

I am actually not the one that will be cleaning/protecting it. She just wanted to know how to do it, so I told her I would find out for her

-- Hey you dang woodchucks, quit chucking my wood!!!!

View chrisstef's profile


17382 posts in 3003 days

#12 posted 10-03-2017 08:37 PM

Id spray it down with a 10% bleach and water mixture. Thoroughly dry. Store away from humidity.

-- Its not a crack, its a casting imperfection.

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