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Tom Johnson of Thomas Johnson Antique Furniture Restoration in Gorham, Maine utilizes a number of techniques in removing an offending scent from this nineteenth-century chest of drawers. Tom has been restoring furniture professionally since 1979. Visit our website at call us at (207) 222-2266, or write us at [email protected] And for those on the west coast looking for custom framing, be sure to check out Tom’s daughter’s shop, (@emcollierframes on Instagram).

41 Comments on Eliminating Odors from an Antique Chest of Drawers – Thomas Johnson Antique Furniture Restoration

  1. Thank you for the cleaning tip. I used dish soap and water, then a disinfectant and water mix to clean an old oak dresser that had mold inside and out (and lots of dust). The piece is drying now. I think I'm going to have spray it like you did.

  2. I’m. Whinnying to wonder how you go about charging for some of the work you do. The time and effort you put in just to clean that piece… The attention to detail and time you put into a lot of your work I would not begin to know how to charge for such expertise and experience let alone labor etc…

  3. Hi Thomas, Vodka in a spray bottle is amazing ! It will kill the mold and is odorless. and baking soda with vinegar will kill the smell. I hope you try it. The Vodka is amazing!

  4. Wow it is so impressive the attention to detail you take. Great work. I am beginning to buy old furniture and repurpose or refinish. I have a question for you. Do you think all furniture can be restore or are there times when it is too far gone? So to be more specific, before i found this video i bought a pretty little piece. It a small desk or console table. It had a terrible musty and mildew odor. I couldn’t even have it in my house it was setting off my allergies like crazy. So i put it on my covered patio. But somehow the rain got in and it go really wet. The top is very swollen which is interesting because with the expansion the mold is even more prominent. Is it too far gone?

  5. Take some coffee grounds and paper towel. I make a pouch and it's amazing how the grounds absorb all that odor in 2-3 days. You can put some in a container, but the paper towel also absorbs moisture from the wood at the same time. That's a beautiful old piece of furniture. Nice job !!!

  6. You will always smell the funk….Its antique shellac that smells, hide glue smells, The only way to properly seal this is to sand all surfaces with 220 and dewax shellac or deft lacquer sanding seal the entire project. all my antiques take roughly 20 minutes to seal complete start to finish. but ive done 1000s ….
    I never use water on any antique.
    dewax shellac can be made by freezing zinssers shellac then open the can after frozen and scoop out the hard wax.
    i sometimes use minwax wipe Polly.

  7. I plan on making a colonial style china cabinet from some butternut. I find butternut has an unpleasant smell would you have any suggestion how to treat the wood. The best I can think of is shellac. although I am thing of lining the interior with white cedar.

  8. Whew! You're a sanding fool, TJ! Love your work and am dreading reaching the end of your library of videos. I'll just rerun them. though.

  9. About halfway through I started to have flashbacks of Mr. Wolf from Pulp Fiction. "All those little pieces of brain and skull, you gotta pick them up outta this cabinet…"

  10. I had very bad issues mith mold in one room. i get rid of the mold of the walls,insulated the walls,but then i realise that the furniture by that wall wass soacked in mold smell. Then i cleaned thoroughly 2-3 times with a solution of 80% water and 20 % home bleach. It worked very well, but then a had to wait for about a week or two for the bleach smell to evaporate well. But i newer thought of a white wine vinegar like someone bellow mentioned it. Great work and a pleasure to learn from you. Keep up the great work teaching us.

  11. Hi Tom – I use white wine vinegar, just paint in on with an old 2" brush and leave it. The vinegar smell is almost gone after 24 hours and completely gone in 48 hrs. Great channel and only just found you – great videos thanks. Pete

  12. Man, that's a lot of work!  For mold, I'm thinking furniture needs to always be disassembled, cleaned and reassembled.  Mold is so pervasive. 

    Are you passing your expertise on to following generations for when you and your brothers are gone?  It seems there are fewer and fewer woodworkers left… Thank you.

  13. I have a very old buffet that I inherited from my mother. It has very ornate carving on it. I think I need to do the same thing you did with removing the odor but is there any other thing I can do to seal the surface instead of shellacking? The wood is so beautiful and I'd like to keep it as natural as I can. Maybe linseed oil or something? Any suggestions?

  14. i can understand wanting to eliminate mold smell, but the oakey scent that old furniture has is part of the charm imo. when buying antiques maybe be prepared to know whats involved and dont expect it to smell like new cheap ikea crap. just a thought.

  15. Terrific learning video. I tripped over your playlist library while researching furniture restoration as I have a few pieces that I'd like to tackle myself. I'll admit, I was surprised to see you using water and other liquids so liberally. Isn't there a risk of warpage, especially with such an old piece? How is it that the old wood in that dresser maintained it's shape and reassembled so well?

  16. Great work! I admire your thoroughness and patience. When I see mold in one place the first thing I think of is, "where else is the mold hiding?" That stuff is very pernicious. If in your place, I would strongly recommend to the owner to have his house checked by someone with experience to see if there is mold anywhere else in his house. Mold exposure has ruined the health of many people. Love you videos. Cheers.

  17. Great tip there. Years ago we bought a second hand wooden wardrobe and we needed to get rid of it because of the smell. It just smelt like an old persons home (sorry best way to describe it). We tried waxes and all cleaning products with no success. You obviously know what your doing, and I'm really learning a lot from your videos. Was great to see how you tackled this problem. 🙂

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