Preserving a piece of furniture involves cleaning the exterior and the interior of the wood. For the exterior, products that are quite abrasive are generally used; therefore, they must be used with care so as not to damage the wood. The interior cleaning must be considered a curative process, because some woods are infested with wood-boring insects, which produce a series of perforations that damage the wood structurally and aesthetically. Light, temperature, and humidity also affect the condition of the wood. Excess humidity produces much of the physical damage in the wood.
Generally, the insects that infest wood are known as wood-borer. Some woods are more prone to infestation than others. For example olive, walnut, and oak are especially sensitive. On the other hand, mahogany is immune to insects. In wood infestations, the female lays her eggs in the crevices and the loose joints. The larvae that emerge are very small, and they consume the inside of the wood for two years, during which time the cycle repeats itself and the female keeps spreading eggs throughout the piece of furniture. After the two years, the wood-boring insects surface, and they transform into beetles with wings. This is, in short the repetitive life cycle of wood-boring insects.
The beetle emerges towards the end of spring or at the beginning of summer. At these times one must pay close attention to furniture pieces. Wood-boring insects are detected, thanks to the piles of yellow sawdust found under the furniture or ear it. When these piles of sawdust are noticed, the furniture must be examined to discover the beetle’s exit holes. Following that, Nova 30 Wood Disinfectant, should be applied, sprayed, brushed, or injected or the furniture must be immersed in it. The most recommended technique is to inject the insecticide with a syringe into all the holes found and to soak the remaining surface with a small brush. The application must be carried out in a well-ventilated place, using gloves and a mask.
Humidity & Temperature
Wood, like all organic materials, is hygroscopic – that is, its relative humidity tends to maintain a balance in relation to the humidity of the surroundings. When the wood contains about 20% humidity, it is exposed to fungi attack. Depending on the type of fungi, the attack can stain the wood or destroy the walls of the cells that form it.
All organic materials contain humidity in a higher or lower quantity. If the humidity of the surroundings is higher than that of the material, the furniture tends to absorb the humidity from the surroundings; if on the other hand the humidity of the surroundings is less than that of the furniture, it tends to release it. Because of this, one must keep in mind that changes in humidity and temperature alter the wood and the greater it’s surface and the smaller its thickness, the more rapidly it reacts to changes in humidity.
Humidity must be considered an aggressive agent, attacking not only wood but also other materials of which the furniture is made. In general, furniture is made of wood elements bonded with glue, which can be altered in a humid environment. So, special attention should be given to veneer pieces that become unglued from the furniture as a result of humidity. In these cases, it is desirable to make the repair in a relatively short time, or there is a risk that the entire veneer will be damaged.