cleaning & reviving old wood

Marian ParsonsAll Things Home, Antiques, Cleaning & care35 Comments

A few weeks ago, I took some time to hit some of my favorite local antique and thrift stores.  I had been inside a lot during my shoulder recovery and then catching up on work through January and I just needed to get out…not to go to the grocery store or to run the boys to an activity, but to meander without much purpose.  While I was out, I ended up buying a couple of old wooden spools for $1.  I thought they would be nice to wrap yarn or twine around that had come unraveled.  They were dirty and the wood was dry, though, so I took some time to clean them up and get them hydrated.

The first thing I did was scrub them with dish soap and water.  I know some people are nervous about getting wood wet, but it really is the best way to clean things – wood included!  I’ve scrubbed many pieces of wood furniture with soap and water and let them dry outside on a warm, sunny day.

Once they were all cleaned, I let them dry thoroughly on the counter overnight.

Once dry, I applied Miss Mustard Seed’s Hemp Oil with a natural-bristle artist’s brush.

I would typically use a microfiber cloth for something small like this, but the end grain of the wood was a little rough and very absorbent, so applying it with a brush worked much better.

I wiped away any excess oil with a microfiber cloth.  When applying oil, it isn’t like a polyurethane that is laid on with a brush and then dries hard.  It soaks into the surface like a lotion.  If too much is applied, the excess needs to be wiped away or it will slow cure time and the surface might become sticky.  If you wipe away the excess, it will feel dry to the touch immediately (it may feel a bit cold) and will fully cure after 30 days.  It can be used during that time, but the surface might still release a little bit of excess oil during that cure time.

And, here are the spools!  All cleaned and hydrated…

Why is taking pictures of spools so enjoyable?

It’s a simple thing, a small makeover of a utilitarian object, but I love how they turned out!

Here are some posts about Hemp Oil, including one showing how to use it to hydrate leather boots…““

cleaning wood furniture & removing watermarks with hemp oil & vinegar

empire dresser makeover with hemp oil

five reasons you need hemp oil in your life


cleaning & reviving old wood

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35 Comments on “cleaning & reviving old wood”

  1. Love all of your articles. WOULD HEMP oil be okay to use on wooden cabinets? Mine are getting tired in looks.

    1. It depends on what the finish is like on them. If the finish is intact, the oil won’t absorb in. That being said, it won’t hurt to try rubbing it on one cabinet door and see how it does.

  2. Mariane I have a bottle of your hemp oil and we can NOT get the lid off of it. We’ve had several try. We know you push down and turn. But no matter how hard we try the lid will not unscrew. I’ve wanted to use it so many times. I have had it for a long time. I am about ready to take a saw to it and saw the lid off. Have you had anyone have this trouble before?

    1. Rinda, I had this same problem with my bottle of hemp oil! I ended up drilling a hole through the plastic cap and I poured the contents of the bottle into a mason jar with a plastic lid.

    2. What happens is the hemp oil dries and causes the lid to stick. Try running the lid under warm water.

  3. They are so useful and I love what you put on them. An antiques dealer told me years ago that soap and water is the best way to clean wood. It has worked for me over the years.

  4. Thanks for the tips and all the associated posts. Sometimes we just need a little permission to do things like get wood wet! 😁. Thanks for your clear and thorough instructions in your tutorials.

  5. I can attest to its wonders! I bought some of your oil last year and used it on an old buffet I bought for $50. The top was bowed and I had it replaced, and a bit of the wooden appliqué was gone from the front doors, but other than that, it was still a solid piece. After cleaning it thoroughly, including removing chicken feathers from the inside (the piece had been in a barn for years), I wiped on the hemp oil and buffed with a rag, and the piece looked stunning! Other than the top, I didn’t have to replace or refinish a thing. It sits in my foyer and it’s admired all the time when anyone comes to visit.

  6. Oh Marian, I just LOVE these! I also ran across some in a store recently and since have been seeing them on some online sites. After purchasing one, I asked my husband if he would make me a few and he did! He is a wonderful wood turning artist! I have some with ribbons and some with lace that I use in some projects. Not only are they useful, they are nice ‘eye candy’ in my craft space. Enjoy!

  7. Almost forgot, your comments on cleaning wood with soap and water were so on target. My friend was the owner of a high end furniture store and he advised me to never use furniture polish on wood as it just lays on top of the surface eventually discoloring the wood and leaving a layer on the wood. His advice was just as yours, wash with a damp cloth and soap (if necessary), drying the surface, and using a hemp oil or some type that absorbs into the wood when necessary.
    I follow your blog daily and just love you and your style. You have such great information. Thank you for your efforts as you are very appreciated!

    1. Yes! I don’t ever use polish, but will wash my wood pieces that get lots of use (and spills) with soapy water and will oil or wax them when needed.

  8. I’ve had several antique spools for years and enjoyed them as they are, but love the blue and white twine. Would you share the source?

    The arrival of your daily email is one of the bright spots in the day. Always interesting and I always learn something.


    1. Hmmm…I bought it years ago and don’t remember. I think it may have been from Hobby Lobby…?

  9. Hello, Marian! Did you use hemp oil on your newish artist’s easel? I’ve searched for a post about that ~ the color of the wood is just right; not so raw-looking. Or maybe you used wax?

  10. Hello Marian. I also love the use of Hemp Oil on many of my older pieces of furniture. But would it also work on
    some outdoor furniture ( I think it is cedar) that I have recently sanded down? I had painted this furniture with chalk paint but it had started chipping too much. Now it is down to its original wood color which I love. Would the hemp oil protect it and nourish it as it sits on a covered porch outside?

    1. Hemp Oil wouldn’t be the best for that. I would suggest a finish that is meant for using outdoors. Something like Tung Oil would be a much better option.

  11. Marian, your article makes me think you can advise me on something. We recently remodeled our kitchen and included open shelves on either side of the sink. We searched and stumbled upon some reclaimed wood salvaged from the trolley barn in Atlanta. The barm housed streetcars or trolleys and was built after Atlanta was burned in the Civil War. The wood is native Georgia long leaf pine cut down around 1850. We chose to keep the gray weathered edge on the wood. It shows on the front edge of the shelves. We tested this edge though and it contains lead. We want to seal the wood so as to prevent the lead particles, even though it’s not flaking, from leaving the wood. I don’t want to put a shiny polyurethane coating on the wood and the people at Lowe’s and Home Depot don’t seem to understand me when I ask for advice. What can I seal the shelves with so they are safe but appear … appropriate?

    1. I would suggest sealing them with a non-yellowing, matte waterbased product, like our Tough Coat. (You can get it from a local retailer or on Amazon.)

  12. I can’t get the lid off my hemp oil jar, either. It opened when I bought it. I used it once and the next time, the lid would not budge.

    1. What happens is the hemp oil dries and causes the lid to stick. Try running the lid under warm water.

  13. Thank you for reviewing the different uses for hemp oil. I have pine furniture that has turned orangey and was wondering if hemp oil would help darken the color and take away a little or the orange tint. Or do you have other suggestions for this situation?

    1. No, it will not take away the orange tint of pine. In order to do that, the pieces would need to be refinished. That is the old finish yellowing/discoloring.

  14. I love love love your hemp oil and use it often – bought it for my wooden cutting boards but it has been slowly making its way into much more use.

    Your before/after boots – wow – hemp is so awesome on so many levels.

    Can’t believe you found those wooden spools for $1 each! What a great purchase!!

  15. Love how those turned out, and that you transferred some of your bakers twine onto them. Utilitarian AND beautiful! I’m going to keep my eyes open for some when I’m shopping.

  16. I want to build a ladder to display quilts but not sure what finish would be best. Would help oil work. I don’t want anything that would discolor the quilts. TIA

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