Thank you for viewing our articles. We recommend you take some time to read what we have to share. Rod Rodriguez has well over a decade of hands on wood care experience and has worked with fifteen different species of wood. It is our goal to help you understand what your project entails, and clearly communicate what needs to happen on your particular job. Please do not hesitate to contact us should you have any questions at all. We look forward to assisting you with your wood care needs for many years to come.
Wood Restoration as a Skill and an Art
By Rod Rodriguez
President, See Dirt Run!™ Inc.
Over the years I have heard so many stories pertaining to wood restoration. There has been a great deal of controversy regarding how to restore wood, and what methods are necessary under what circumstances. A few notable organizations, associations and government agencies have taken on the world of wood and demonstrated there is much to be considered when working with this beautiful material.
Its composition is of particular interest in many publications. The diversity of each species is identified and classified for our information on how to approach caring for this amazing material. Each species has a hardness or softness, a specific gravity, a porosity, a density, a color range, a unique grain, a thermal dynamic, a moisture content, tannins, lignin, resins, oils, sap, pitch, and characteristics that indicate its age, decomposition rate, shrinking rate, warping, cupping, cracking, weathering, and so on.
Wood is useful according to its characteristics for various structures, furniture and tools. Each has attributes which determine its best overall use. Understanding the attributes of different woods makes one good at working with this material and applying the knowledge of that species towards a specific craft, such as as a carpenter, craftsman or supplier.
Learning what happens to wood when it is used on structures can help one to understand what to expect from this material over time and determine its particular suitability for the many types of structures that it may be used for.
When it comes time for repair, replacement, or implementation of a protective measure for the structure, any professional needs to understand much of the following before moving forward.
- What type of wood is it?
- How old is it?
- Has it been treated with a preservative?
- What is happening to the wood?
- What is causing the current condition?
- How does the current condition affect the wood’s integrity?
- How does the current condition affect the load handling capability?
- At this point, is it reversible, treatable, salvageable?
- Will it happen again if the same course of action is implemented?
- If so, what will prevent this condition again?
- What can be applied to offer protection?
As you can see, it is pretty involving and without the answers to these questions, which anyone working with wood technically should be able to answer, professionals may be subject to providing an inferior or at least inadequate result.
“Technical”. Let’s take a look at that. If the key to successfully working with wood is technical knowledge, that would indicate that there is much to know about it and in essence, that knowledge would be equal to an educated understanding of wood. ‘Technical’ knowledge is an applied science, profession, art, or craft. One who is educated in the science of wood can become skilled with practice. Those who further develop their skill become artful. True professionals use their applied knowledge to develop their technique. Technique is the tool of a professional skilled in the knowledge of a science. Wood care and professional restoration is that science.
Restoring wood to a former state or condition which is improved from a degraded one takes knowledge and skill. This is an art. Without it, the results range from sheer luck to disaster. A little knowledge is not good for the wood, a wealth of knowledge is far better for it.
People take our trade for granted at times and don’t give many of us the credit for the education we have invested in, or the time we take to evaluate our results. People have been exposed to many who have not taken our steps and just haphazardly go about trying to do what they have seen others do without a thought about what they are doing to someone else’s property.
Wood restoration also requires a knowledge apart from wood in chemistry. In chemistry applicable to this trade, we must learn about many components of the various cleaners and strippers used today and also, about the effects they will have on wood itself as well as how they will react to what is currently installed on the wood. We must learn about the types of coatings, finishes, sealers, preservatives, colorants, mildewcides, fungicides, oils, and resins used in wood restoration today. Identification of these, present or missing ,gives us information we need in order to understand what is going on and what steps are necessary to effect a positive change. Climate, environment and the condition of the wood tell us what to expect from what is present and what may work better.
There are wide variety of chemicals available for wood restoration, each with specific uses and designed for certain end results. These range from alkaline (bases) to acid. Each in its pH category serves a function towards restoring wood to a former or improved state or condition. Many are found in local stores which are designed for use by a consumer with little or no knowledge and are formulated in the same regard. The strength and capabilities are reduced for liability purposes which are for the best. Professionals use chemicals specifically designed and tailored to the demands of a wood restoration technician and may be dangerous to those who are not qualified to use them. Qualification being: education, training, experience and if available, certification.
The care and precautions employed by a wood restoration professional comes from experience and a thorough understanding of the chemicals we must use to give our customers the best possible result. Understanding of everything mentioned in this article can give a new meaning to the trade of wood restoration and possibly, some respect for what we as professionals know how to do so well with the knowledge and techniques developed over time to give wood a longer life.
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