Caring for your Wooden Furnitures
“METHOD OF ASSEMBLING A MORTISED-AND-TENONED FRAME WITH FLOATING PANEL”
Once boards have been connected by a tongue-and-groove joint with penetrating transverse brace, they can be inserted into a frame as a floating panel.
The frame is composed of four members, two long tenon-bearing members and two short mortise-bearing members. Along the inside of the frame grooves are made to accept the tongue of the floating panel, and the ends of the penetrating transverse braces are fitted into mortises in the tenon-bearing frame members.
Extracted from Wang Shixiang ‘CLASSIC CHINESE FURNITURE’
LI BAI ARTS & ANTIQUES PTE LTD
No. 20 Bukit Batok Crescent
#07-08 Enterprise Centre
Tel : (65) 6316 1181
Mobile : (65) 9129 2313
Weekdays by appointments
Saturdays & Sundays
10:30 am – 6:30 p.m.
As all antique Chinese furniture are ingeniously constructed with wood joineries, its very normal for the wood to expand and contract according to climatic changes within reasonable tolerance. This is known as the ‘Floating Panel’. It will expand in summer and contract in winter as the wood in furniture continues to exchange moisture with the air, shrinking and expanding in response to changes in relative humidity.
Much like our own skin, solid wood furniture’s natural response to extremely dry air is to lose moisture and shrink a bit. For that reason, the extension table may part slightly, or a few cracks may appear on a solid surface. However, do not worry. This will correct itself as the relative humidity rises, and the wood absorbs enough moisture to expand slightly.
On the other hand, if you don’t have an air-conditioner or dehumidifier, your home’s relative humidity may become too high for your wood furniture, causing it to absorb excess moisture. When your drawers become stuck, the wood has “expanded” with moisture. The situation corrects itself as the relative humidity decreases.
These natural changes do not affect the quality and sturdiness of your furniture. But remember never to expose furniture to continuous direct sunlight. Draw the curtains occasionally. Before you pack and ship out, its recommended to wax all your furniture one week before shipping so as to seal in the moisture and prevent the wood from drying out in the container. Remember, the furniture is going to sit in the hot container for one month on the sea and depending on the season that you are shipping the furniture back.
Upon arriving at final destination, again wax all the furniture to allow the wood enough time to settle into the new climate. Do put bowls of water in the cabinets and on top of furniture so that they will not lose too much moisture too spontaneously. Its only the initial two weeks that you have to help your furniture settle into the new environment.
To clean hardwood furniture, dust with a soft cloth, following the grain pattern of the wood. An old T-shirt or laundered cheesecloth may be used. Before dusting, moisture the cloth lightly with a wood polish. A dry cloth would leave hairline scratches on the finish. Dust your furniture often, to remove abrasive everyday particles from wood surfaces.
Wood finishes benefit from an occasional waxing or polishing. A paste wax can be applied every six to twelve months or every change of the season.
Its been a great pleasure sharing this information with you. Remember, a little knowledge helps in a better understanding of the nature of wood. Chinese furniture is lasting and easy to maintain, once you know how. The better you care for them, the warmer would be its appeal and will last you for generations to come.