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Cleaning Clock Cases

derwiener

Old Timer
Aug 8, 2009
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I have several old wooden clock cases with accumulated dirt and grime on the finish that need to be cleaned.The finish appears to be stain with shellac or varnish. In the past I used Gojo Creme Hand Cleaner. Unfortunately the creme type has been discontinued, and now apparently only a liquid is available. I have also heard that Goop can be used, as well as linseed oil and very fine steel wool, but have never tried either. I would appreciate any recommendations about which cleaner is the best to use on stained wooden clock cases with shellac/varnish finish.

Thank you very much!

Paul
 

tracerjack

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Jun 6, 2016
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I use Goop waterless cleaner on stained, shellac finish clock cases. Usually the shellac is long gone or barely there. The Goop works well getting off the dirt and grime.
 
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Dick C

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Oct 14, 2009
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I have several old wooden clock cases with accumulated dirt and grime on the finish that need to be cleaned.The finish appears to be stain with shellac or varnish. In the past I used Gojo Creme Hand Cleaner. Unfortunately the creme type has been discontinued, and now apparently only a liquid is available. I have also heard that Goop can be used, as well as linseed oil and very fine steel wool, but have never tried either. I would appreciate any recommendations about which cleaner is the best to use on stained wooden clock cases with shellac/varnish finish.

Thank you very much!

Paul
I have not seen any indication that the original has been discontinued.
 

PatH

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It looks like you should be able to get the original formula Gojo from NAPA auto supply stores, as well as from Amazon. There may be others, but I did find those two sources online.
 

derwiener

Old Timer
Aug 8, 2009
91
1
8
It looks like you should be able to get the original formula Gojo from NAPA auto supply stores, as well as from Amazon. There may be others, but I did find those two sources online.
I saw those, but they the original formula is described as liquid rather than creme formula. Does that matter? The container that I bought some time ago had cleaner the consistency of hand cream.

Thanks!
 

derwiener

Old Timer
Aug 8, 2009
91
1
8
It looks like you should be able to get the original formula Gojo from NAPA auto supply stores, as well as from Amazon. There may be others, but I did find those two sources online.
I saw those, but they the original formula is described as liquid rather than creme formula. Does that matter? The container that I bought some time ago had cleaner the consistency of hand cream.

Thanks!
 

Bruce Alexander

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NAWCC Brass Member
Feb 22, 2010
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Hello Paul

Last I looked, Wal-Mart carried Goop. The price has *definitely* gone up: <span style="font-weight:bolder;">GOOP Multi-Purpose Hand Cleaner, 14 oz - Walmart.com</span>

There is a recipe for a cleaner. It was formulated by Joel Warren. It makes an excellent cleaner, and with more aggressive application, it can also tone down alligatoring or other finish faults.

See this link for more details: https://mb.nawcc.org/threads/joel-warren-method-before-and-after-refinishing.154798/

Or, just search on "Warren" and you find additional threads discussing his approach.

Good luck,

Bruce
 

PatH

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Dec 5, 2014
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I saw those, but they the original formula is described as liquid rather than creme formula. Does that matter? The container that I bought some time ago had cleaner the consistency of hand cream.

Thanks!
Good question, and one to which I don't have an answer. The container looked like it would be a cream, but I really couldn't say. Hopefully someone who has bought it recently can enlighten us.
 

Bruce Alexander

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Feb 22, 2010
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I don't have any experience with GoJo. I've always used Goop. It does have a little alcohol in it so you should be cautious if working with Shellac finishes. I've never had any problems with it. Something as simple, and gentle as Murphy's Oil Soap works well too if the dirt and build up isn't too bad. 4-0 Steel Wool could be used with it.
 

Bruce Alexander

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A nice thing about Goop or GoJo hand cleaner is that they do an exceptional job at their intended purpose. My hands and nails do get dirty and greasy when working on some movements. I either use Goop or Lava hand soap when needed. No pumice formulas on your clocks, though. :emoji_anguished:
 

ragobo

Registered User
Apr 14, 2015
258
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18
Barcelona
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I've always used the same mixture to clean old shellac-based varnish furniture.

I mix on a recipient (plastic bottle):
0.2 liter of white vinegar
0.2 liter of paint thinner (mineral spirits)
1 - 2 soup spoons of liquid glycerine

The vinegar and the mineral spirits don't blend together so the bottle must be shake well while soaking a cotton rag.

If the varnish is dirty the rag comes out black. Once it has been cleaned I rub a dry soft rag to absorb the excess of mixture and polish a bit the surface.

After that I apply a furniture wax to protect the wood.
 

John Rausch

NAWCC Member
Mar 16, 2015
107
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18
Bradenton, FL
Country
For cleaning up a shellac finish I've used a mixture of equal parts of Turpentine, Boiled Linseed Oil & Apple Cider Vinegar. (one recipe also added a little isopropyl alcohol, as well). Don't try it on other finishes, but it works wonders on shellac. Use it on a lint-free cloth or 0000 steel wool, wipe it off thoroughly, let it air out, then finish with some Johnson's Paste Wax. Here's a few before/after pix on a simple tambour clock that had paint spatters, water stains and scratches.

Top_Before-cropped.jpg Top_Finished.JPG FrontStain_Before.JPG FrontStain_Finished.JPG Rear_Before.JPG Rear_Finished.JPG RightTopStain_Before.JPG RightTopStain_Finished.JPG
 

Gage_robertson_collector

Registered User
May 4, 2021
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17
West Hartford, Connecticut
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I have several old wooden clock cases with accumulated dirt and grime on the finish that need to be cleaned.The finish appears to be stain with shellac or varnish. In the past I used Gojo Creme Hand Cleaner. Unfortunately the creme type has been discontinued, and now apparently only a liquid is available. I have also heard that Goop can be used, as well as linseed oil and very fine steel wool, but have never tried either. I would appreciate any recommendations about which cleaner is the best to use on stained wooden clock cases with shellac/varnish finish.

Thank you very much!

Paul
If you have a clock case with finish that is in good condition, I would reccomend furniture wax. Use a lighter colored wax for lighter colored woods (or stains over the wood for that matter), and a black or darker furniture wax for the darker colored woods. Go slowly, and with care to cover every bit of the case, rub the wax into the wood in a circular motion, then buff off about 2 minutes later with a soft microfiber towel. Then, use 0000 steel wool and lightly buff going in the direction of the grain of the wood, and repeat the previous step of applying and buffing with a microfiber and then steel wool until the desired finish on the case has been reached. Check out Minwax brand for the cheaper furniture waxes (still works good) and check out Maylands furniture wax for the more expensive stuff. Good luck!
 

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