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Hello All, I've read a lot of possible advice/feedback on a different forum on a different website. I was referred to ask you the experts. Here's my dilemma.

I received this family heirloom from my mother, who smokes. Sadly, the inlay's beauty and luster have dimmed as a result of its residency with a smoker. From my research, I've read that folks have been successful restoring inlay pieces using one the following approaches

1. Lemon Oil, an old sock and elbow grease in the direction of the wood grain
2. Turpentine and Linseed Oil Method
3. Mineral Spirits

Others have recommended murphy oil and water, but I now understand water is bad since it may break down the glue and/or raise the inlay pieces.

So question for this forum is 'which approach is the safest?' I'm pretty industrial and I can work with my hands well. I've just never done a restoration like this one. I don't want to experiment with such a prized family item. If I should consult an expert restorer, does anyone have any recommendations for the San Francisco Bay Area.

Thanks!

Joe
 

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Without being there it's difficult to say what to do. I can't tell if it's 100% wood or if there is finishing giving some of the colors. The yellow cast to it is permanent, nothing will completely clean it off. The combination of the smoking and the old finish yellowing will need to be removed to bring the picture back. If none of the color is from the finishing you could remove the smoking stains by lightly sanding the picture and recoat it but the yellowing of the finish would still be there. If it were me and the picture didn't have color from finishing I would strip the old finish off and sand the wood and put an acrylic clear coat on it.
 

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Oh, my god !!! That is a beautiful piece of work !!!

It's called "Patina". Regardless of how it got it's color, I wouldn't TOUCH that piece of art.

If you want it restored, take it to a museum or other professional, and pay them to do it. Won't be cheap, but the end result will be perfect and no worries about mistakes ruining it forever.

San Francisco is one of those "meccas" of the art world ... look up art galleries or museums. They will be able to recommend.
 

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This is not "woodworking", it is art ...

Your safest and best advice will come from a Art Historian, Museum Restoration expert or Historical Furniture Restoration expert. Go to the museum first with a sample and see who they recommend. They may have someone on staff who will take on the project OR they may recommend an expert in the business.

I have a MFA (Masters In Fine ART) as well as a woodworker, so I have a different opinion than most here.
I do agree that IF the work has a surface finish on it that it could be cleaned with cloth damped with paint thinner or Goof Off or similar solvent. :nerd2: But try a small area first in a corner to see what happens.
 
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