Caring for Wood

by Lambdafarm on November 3, 2010

Everyone knows that wood warps when it gets wet.  What people sometimes forget is warping is related to both how wet a piece of wood gets and to how big the wood is.   That massive ship of a desk may not warp unless submerged, but a small wooden ornament will warp after merely getting damp.  Further, it will warp further and have a tendency to stay warped even after drying out.

This does not mean wooden objects are bad.  On the contrary, they are beautiful and functional.  They simply have to be taken care of properly.  This starts with picking out the ornament or object.  Try to avoid having it sealed in plastic.  Zipper closure bags are great for cereal or running from the car to the house in a downpour.  They do not allow the wood breathe according to the changing moisture in the air, though.

For example, if a cold front comes in and it rains, the wood in a closed up house can adjust to the increased amount of moisture in the house by slowly absorbing mositure until the air in the house and the air in the wood have the same degree of moisture.  By the same token, the wood slower evaporates the moisture into the surrounding air as the rain clears and the air dries out.  If, however, the wood goes from a humid area to a drier area while sealed in plastic, the moisture condenses and bathes the wood, warping it.

Of course, some wood gets wet.  However, it is sealed before getting moist to protect it.  That is what paint, vanish, and stain are designed to do.  If you know a wood will get wet, make sure it is stained and varnished or otherwise sealed.

Just as with larger furniture, it is necessary to polish the wood periodically to maintain the seal.  How often has to do with the type of wood, the original finish, and the polish.  Polishes have detailed instructions for that reason.  Find one you like that includes the type of wood you have and use it as directed.   Your wood will stay nicer much longer that way.

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