Most people who are familiar with bone inlay furniture already know that there’s nothing else quite like it. The craftsmanship and beauty of these pieces are almost always far beyond your average piece of furniture. Unfortunately, most people are unfamiliar with the finer points of cleaning and caring for their furniture, leading to annoying discolorations and cracks in the years to come.
Hopefully, by the end of this you’ll have the knowledge needed to ensure your bone inlay furniture stays gorgeous for decades to come.
First of all, let’s cover two huge changes to caring for bone inlay furniture over regular furniture. The first is somewhat obvious, you should never use modern cleaning products to care for bone inlay. They tend to be far too harsh to use on the delicate workmanship or paint commonly used on bone inlay. The second bit of advice might be a bit surprising. Make sure your furniture is somewhere where it can get proper sunlight. Unlike most furniture that reacts poorly to sunlight, bone tends to lighten over time with proper exposure. This is a simple way to counteract bone’s natural tendency to yellow almost to the point of being ocher.
Now, to care for your bone inlay properly you’re going to need a couple specialty items. For the actual cleaning you’ll likely have to do, it’s recommended that you pick up some spirit soap. If your furniture has any especially delicate work on it, you’ll need to get some white spirit as well. A 1:20 ratio of spirit soap to white spirit is what you’re going to need to use on the delicate portions of the work. Secondly, you’ll want to pick up some colorless beeswax. This has been found to be the best thing to use when it comes time to polish your bone inlay.
Now, there’s always a chance that you’ve purchased a particularly old piece that is stained or very heavily yellowed in places. Assuming you want a more uniform look, there are a few few tricks you can employ to help remove the stains and lighten the yellowing. The first is simply applying a solution of citric acid to the stain. This will usually do the trick. If it doesn’t, however, you’ll need to get a half-and-half solution of hydrogen peroxide and water. You’ll want to immerse the piece in this solution for a few minutes if possible, but, you can always apply it with a brush if it’s a bigger part or you can’t remove it. You’ll have to wait until the piece has finished drying to really see the effect of the treatment. Afterwards, simply clean and polish it and you’re done.