Thursday, July 23, 2015

Removing Scratches and Rings and Polishing Wood

HowardFeed-N-Wax (2)I could write a long post on all kinds of ways to tackle water spots, towel marks, glass bottom rings, scratches, etc.  I could talk about different finishes and oils, and the merits of one over the other.  We could talk about polyurethane vs. a natural finish, replacing veneer, and sanding techniques.

But instead I’m just posting what is basically an unpaid ad for Howard Wood Restoration products.  They are bottled magic.

My friend who owned a vintage store in Denver called Lee Alex Decor (sadly, closed now), turned me onto this stuff a couple of years ago.  You can walk into a thrift store and buy a piece of furniture that no one would look twice at, and with a couple of wipes, you’ve got a new looking piece of Midcentury goodness!  (While this might be slight exaggeration, it’s actually not too far fetched!)

Simply pick the color of Howard Restor-a-Finish that most closely matches your furniture (for almost everything I own I use Walnut or Dark Walnut), then apply the product with a soft cloth and wipe off.  Your furniture will look amazing, and you get the added bonus of learning Karate (“wipe on, wipe off”).

If you’ve got crazing (lots of tiny cracks) or a scratch that’s a bit of a doozey, you may need to apply Restor-a-Finish with 0000 super fine steel wool.  It made me nervous when I first tried it, but it worked great.  And you’d be amazed at the kinds of blemishes (even blistering and raised finishes!) this can take care of.

HowardFeed-N-Wax (1)Once that’s done, I always use Howard Feed-n-Wax.  It’s bee’s wax and citrus.  It smells fantastic, and it makes Midcentury teak, walnut, mahogany, etc. look AWESOME.

If you can’t get to Lowe’s or Home Depot, it’s also available on Amazon, though the price is actually best at the local store.

Below are some pics of our Danish bar (in teak).  I actually didn’t even use the Restor-a-Finish on this, just the Feed-n-Wax.  Unfortunately I don’t have any “before” pics, but you think there weren’t copious drink rings, scratches, and scuffs on a 70 year old, well-used bar?

This stuff is amazing.


Thursday, April 30, 2015

“Organic” (not Roundup) Weed Killer

DSC02088Our midcentury modern home has nearly an acre of xeriscaped gardens (most original to the house).  This means we have a lot of gravel and rock where weeds love to try and grow.

For a while I was using Roundup to take care of the weeds, but then I did a bit of research into glyphosate (what Roundup is made of), and was appalled at what I found.

Before I get into the evils of glyphosate, I’ll let you know what I replaced it with.

  • 1 gallon white vinegar
  • 2 cups Epsom salts (not table salt!)
  • 1/4 cup dish soap

I was extremely skeptical at first, not to mention worried about quite literally salting the earth so nothing else could grow, but it turns out Epsom salts are mostly magnesium and sulfur, whereas table salt is sodium chloride.  Epsom salts are actually used as a fertilizer to promote plant growth!

I started using this mixture this spring, and I found it works EVERY BIT as well as Roundup!  And, hey, no cancer (or hundreds of other major problems associated with glyphosate)!


So if you need something to end those pesky weeds in your meticulously cultivated xeriscape, I highly recommend the above mixture.  It works best if you use it on a sunny and hot day, and I usually see results by sunset, with the plant dying out completely in just a few days.

Now, if you want to know more about the absolute evils of Monsanto and it’s promotion of Roundup/glyphosate, read on (apologies, as I’m about to climb up on a big ol’ soap box)…

Glyphosate was invented, for the second time, oddly enough, by John Franz in 1970 and marketed by Monsanto as Roundup.  It was actually first synthesized in 1950 by Swiss chemist Henry Martin for his employer Cilag, but they did not realize the herbicidal potential.  In 1970, Monsanto had been exploring the water-softening benefits of various analogs of aminomethylphosphonic acid, when they found a few to be mildly poisonous to plants and hired Franz to explore the herbicidal potential.  After only three tries (his third analog), Roundup was born.  The Monsanto patent expired in the year 2000, so now you can get generic glyphosate (it’s cheaper!), but it’s no less evil than the Monsanto branded Roundup that they continue to pour all over the earth in increasing quantities (in combination with other life threatening practices like modifying plants to withstand glyphosate so they can use MORE of it on crops). 

Without going super deep into the evils of glyphosate (and Monsanto’s denial thereof), here’s a little snippet from the Glyphosate Wikipedia page:

“The German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment published a toxicology review in 2013, which found that "the available data is contradictory and far from being convincing" with regard to correlations between exposure to glyphosate formulations and risk of various cancers, including non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL).[6]:Volume 1, pp. 64–66 A meta-analysis published in 2014 identified an increased risk of NHL in workers exposed to glyphosate formulations.[7] In March 2015 the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer published a summary of its forthcoming monograph on glyphosate, and classified it as "probably carcinogenic in humans" (category 2A) based on epidemiological studies, animal studies, and in vitro studies.”

Most European countries have banned glyphosate.

By the way, you know what else Monsanto invented?  DDT.  DDT was banned in the 70’s after being exposed as extremely dangerous to, well, just about everything in the food chain (cancer, nervous system damage, liver damage, etc.) –not to mention it doesn’t break down for years and years (thus remains in the food chain for a long, long time).

While glyphosate doesn’t stick around as bad as DDT,

“glyphosate is not included in compounds tested for by the Food and Drug Administration's Pesticide Residue Monitoring Program, nor in the United States Department of Agriculture's Pesticide Data Program. However, a field test showed that lettuce, carrots, and barley contained glyphosate residues up to one year after the soil was treated with 3.71 lb of glyphosate per acre (4.15 kg per hectare).”[National Pesticide Information Center Technical Factsheet on: GLYPHOSATE]

For the record, Monsanto also invented Agent Orange (to literally scorch the earth of vegetation in the Vietnam War), not to mention recombinant bovine somatotropin (that nasty growth hormone used in cows).  They’re a great group of fellas with only your well-being in mind!

The above should be enough, but the horrors go on and on (and on and on and on).  Here are just a few more things about glyphosate and why you shouldn’t use it (nor should ANYONE).

"A recent study from Harvard, published on March 27th of 2014, has definitively confirmed what scientists outside the US have been saying for years: neonicotinoids are THE [emphasis added] cause of colony collapse disorder (CCD). The study showed that 50% of colonies populated by bees who had been in contact with these pesticides collapsed, compared to only 1 in 6 who were not in contact with neonicotinoids.” [quote copied from this site

You can download a pdf of the Harvard report here:

Here is another study in collaboration with the Apiary Inspectors of America (AIA) and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) that illustrates the threat of glyphosate in colony collapse disorder:

I could go on and on, but it just gets more depressing.  Long story short, vinegar, Epsom salts, and soap work better than Roundup and won’t kill your friends!