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July 20th, 2008

Refinishing is a Green Action

The buzz word in the news these days is “Green” living. What is “Green” to you and me may be something very different to someone else. In our furniture restoration division of D.J. Dietz Designs, we have been “recycling” furniture since 1991. We started our restoration department as another way to work with wood as we pursue our lifestyle and livelihood. We’ve come to realize that there’s more than just the wood working that appeals to us, it’s a sense of history, investigation, and accomplishment that makes the world of refinishing so rewarding. As we recycle the wood content of a hand made piece, whether made in a factory by craftsmen working at their bench, or a great relative working in his own little shop to create a family heirloom, we’re also recycling the pride and craftsmanship they imbedded into the piece. We are always amazed at the beautiful furniture that is painted for one reason or another. Sometimes there has been some major damage; fire, water, stains, scrapes, or scratches. In some cases we can repair the wood, others we have to replace the damaged parts. We usually only replace what is absolutely necessary.

One customer wanted us to leave the gouges that her grandfather had carved in the arms of his favorite rocker, the one he used at the end of the day to relax and smoke his pipe. The tool he used to clean his pipe was the same one he used to carve the arms of the chair. The smell of the pipe, the rocking of the chair, the vision of her grandfather digging in the arm of the chair were all memories that were special to her. All brought back when she looks at that chair and the gouges in the arm. What is damage to one customer are wonderful memories to another.

When we started the Furniture Restoration Department, one of the first decisions I made toward being “Green” was to start using environmentally friendly water based finishes. It’s been a tough journey, but one that I’m glad I stuck with. We now have many quality “Green” choices in stains and finishes, whereas in the early 90’s our choices were limited and the performance wasn’t as good as it is today. We now use a pre-catalyzed urethane top coat for protection, providing a far better finish than was possible with the water based varnishes of the 90’s era. For those do-it-yourselfers, who like to do their own finishing, after we’ve stripped their piece, I recommend the poly-acrylic blend by General Finishes. It is a good brush grade finish and they also have an aerosol version for small projects and important final coats. You can check out their web site at www.generalfinishes.com . You may also purchase their products thru D. J. Dietz Designs.


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