Oil and Vinegar

This post is a little bit different than my usual thread, but it goes along with the general theme of a little elbow grease can add a lot of sparkle to your life. Remember this desk I scored a few weeks ago? It is now the home to my sewing machine and overall happy place, but it definitely needed a little TLC. I read through the grapevine you can use a mixture of oil and vinegar to refurbish old wood.  I was as skeptical, but decided to give it a shot. Here’s what happened.

I mixed 1/2 cup mineral oil and 1/4 cup vinegar,


whisked them together in a small mason jar (now I really felt like I was making salad dressing), and used a wash cloth to apply the mixture to the wood.  The top of the desk had a lot of water damage, nicks, and scuffs and the mixture did wonders!  It also worked as regular furniture polish and brought out the red in the cherry desk.  Here’s a few before and after pictures:


A detail of the front right drawers.  You can really see the scuffs and damage along the spindles, but after a little oil/vinegar it seems to have worked out some of the glaring damage.


This is a detail of the right leg.  You can see the scuffs along the corner and the foot.  The oil brought out the natural color and seemingly smoothed the scuffs.  You can tell where there are chunks taken out of the wood, nothing can fix that, but the mixture evened out the differences so they’re far less noticeable.


The top of the desk had the most noticeable issues.  Some scuffing, water rings, general wear and tear.  The jar on the table is the mixture of mineral oil and vinegar I used to work this magic!

IMG_0172 IMG_0173

And here’s how it looks the next day:


As far as what type of oil is appropriate, I used mineral oil since it wouldn’t go rancid.  This was definitely a concern as I was researching this technique. Some reviewers mentioned that using oil or canola was acceptable and others said it could go bad.  Honestly, I have no idea if you could use another kind of oil long term, but to be safe I purchased a $3 bottle of mineral oil to be on the safe side.

Another note was this dried very fast!  I left the windows open when I was applying the mixture— mostly out of  fear of making my house smell like vinegar—  within 15 minutes everything was dry to the touch.  I let it sit for an hour with my overhead fan going and got back to work on my sewing machine!

Granted, I did this yesterday and I plan to update this in a couple weeks to show you how well it holds up, but for now I’m definitely a believer!

UPDATE- 2/14/15: It’s been about four months since I refinished the desk and it still looks great! It hasn’t faded at all and still looks like a brand “new” desk. No weird smells or residues (some people mentioned being afraid of when using this technique). I’d say it’s a keeper!



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