Every house should have a few joiner's tools, a glue-pot, a paint-brush or two, and a box of nails, screws, and brads. "With these few tools and other supplies, a handy boy or girl or housekeeper should be able to keep all the furniture in a moderate-sized house in tolerably good order if the following hints, suggestions, and instructions are followed.
The moment a piece of furniture shows signs of fracture, shakiness, or abrasion, it should be removed from actual use and repaired at once, or left unused until an opportunity arises to repair it. If it is a case of loose joints, and the spindles or tenons slip out of their mortises or holes, the old glue should be removed from both hole and tenon, if possible, and fresh hot glue applied to the work, which should be firmly held together until dry and hard, either by strings, clamps, or weights. When the work is put together and firmly secured, it should remain where placed untouched for at least twenty-four hours, so as to get dry and hard before being used. In many cases when a spindle gets loose in a chair or other piece of furniture, it is left loose until the spindle wears too small for the hole or the hole wears too large for the spindle, or both combine to make matters worse. When this is the case there is no use in using glue to make the spindle stay in place, as glue will not hold any two bodies unless the bodies fit closely together. The best way, then, to repair furniture in this state is to make a judicious use of screws, always making sure to bore holes for the screws, having the hole for the neck or straight part of the screw a trifle larger than the diameter of the screw, and the hole where the threaded or screw part of the screw entered. a trifle smaller than the diameter of the threaded portion. The reason of this is quite obvious. Sometimes both glue and screw may be used to advantage. Nails should never be used in repairing furniture, unless by skilled workmen. Brads may sometimes be used with advantage in repairing broken carvings or in assisting glue to hold broken parts together; but even then should be used sparingly, and should never be driven without first having holes made for them by a brace and a small gimlet.
When knobs, door-handles, or drawer-pulls get loose or fall off, they should be attended to at once; and if the screws that hold them in place have worked loose and will not keep their grip, they should be taken out and new screws one or two sizes larger put in their places. This will, in most cases, repair the defect. Sometimes, when knobs are used, the nut on the bolt that goes through the drawer front becomes so worn that it will not hold. When this is the case the nut may be hammered on its edge on a stone or a flat piece of iron and made so that it will hold for a time; or, if the nut has worn smooth, a piece of hard sole-leather, cut neat and round, and a small hole pierced through it, may be made to do service for a time; but these are only expedients at best, and seldom prove lasting remedies. The better way, when conditions will admit, is to cut the bolt off, just where it projects through the nut, and then rivet it solid to the drawer. Where this can not be done, the best way is to get a new knob or substitute some other kind of a pull. When drawers get rickety they should have square blocks of pine glued solid in their corners. This, when well done, prevents them from falling in pieces. Sometimes a drawer may be helped very much by having the bottom bradded in nicely. The brads help to keep the whole drawer together and rigid. If drawers do not slide easily they may be helped very materially by rubbing their sides and lower edges with dry soap. Castile is the best.
The moment a castor gets loose it should be seen to at once, or torn carpets, broken furniture, or ruined castor, will be the result. If the castor is broken or irreparably damaged, it should be removed and another one put in place: if this is not done all the other castors in the same piece of furniture should be removed until the whole set can be replaced.
When the woodwork on furniture-sets gets bruised it may be repaired by adopting the following: Wet the part bruised with warm water; double a piece of brown paper five or six times, soak the paper in the warm water and lay it on the place; apply on that a flatiron made moderately warm, and hold there until the moisture has nearly all evaporated. This will usually raise the indented part; but if it should not, simply repeat the process. Where the bruises are small, wet the part, and then hold a red-hot iron near the spot, and the bruise will soon disappear.
When the braiding or gimp on the upholstery part of furniture shows signs of wear or a tendency to get loose, it should be firmly fastened to the wood by a free use of gimp-tacks. These tacks may be obtained at any hardware store, and a paper or two should be kept in every well-directed household.
The following recipes will be found very useful in keeping furniture in good order: -
When carved work has to be polished or renovated, take half a pint of linseed-oil, half a pint of old ale, the white of an egg, one oz. spirits of wine, one oz. spirits of salts. Shake well before using. A little to be applied to the face of a soft linen pad, and lightly rubbed for a minute or two over the article to be restored, which must afterward be polished off with an old silk handkerchief. This polish will keep any length of time if well corked. The polish is useful for delicate cabinet-work; it is also recommended for papier-mache work.
For taking stains out of woodwork of various kinds, use ore of the following that is most suitable: -
Ink-stains may be removed from a mahogany or cherry table by putting a few drops of spirits of salt into a teaspoonful of water, and touching the part stained with a feather dipped into the mixture. Immediately the ink-stain disappears, the place must be rubbed with a rag wet with cold water, or there will be a white mark which will not easily be removed. Ink-stains on silver or plated articles may be removed immediately and effectually without doing any injury to the things, by making a little chloride of lime into a paste with water and rubbing the stains until they disappear, and afterwards washing the article with soap and water. Ink-stains may be removed from colored table-covers by dissolving a teaspoonful of oxalic acid in a teacupful of hot water and rubbing the stained part well with the solution. Ink-stains may be taken out of anything white by simply putting a little powdered salts of lemon on the stain, damping it, allowing it to remain about five minutes, and then washing it out with soap and water, when the stain will disappear. Ink-stains may be removed from boards by applying some strong muriatic acid or spirits of salt with a rag, and afterwards well washing the place with water.
For removing other stains, take half a pint of soft water, and put into it an ounce of oxalic acid and half an ounce of butter of antimony. Shake it well, and when dissolved it will be very useful in extracting stains as well as ink from wood, if not of too long standing.