I inherited my grandmother’s old wooden rocking chair. It’s a lovely, well-made solid wood piece, but not really an antique. I estimate it was built in the 1960s using modern materials and finishes. I use it as everyday furniture, not as a showpiece or an untouchable heirloom.
It’s in great shape, but it came with an odd problem. The top of the armrests are covered with a paper-thin layer of dark mystery goo. It’s gummy or waxy most of the time, but it can get mildly sticky when the humidity is high.
For years I’ve put off dealing with the problem, but last night I had a dream about finally scraping the stuff off, so I figured that was a sign from the furniture gods to get on with it.
Using a dull putty knife I scraped most of the offending layer off of one armrest. Fortunately, it appears that the original finish (varnish? shellack? poly-u?) has remained intact and unharmed under the goo (which, incidentally, I’ve come to suspect is decades-old beeswax). However, there still remains a micro-layer of the stuff on the wood. It is very sticky, almost like the underside of a Post-It.
It is time to tackle this residue with chemistry. I did a little test using kerosene. It did the trick, which leads me to think I need a petroleum-based solvent. Unfortunately, the kerosene made the original finish dull. So, what can I use that will remove the goo but leave the original finish unharmed?
Thanks all, in advance.