I have acquired an antique “library table” made of solid oak and about 2.5 ft. square. It is supported by turned spindle legs and incorporates a shelf about one foot off the floor attached to the four legs. During a fire, the table was subjected to high heat and smoke, but no flame, and it is black. I attempted to remove the black with a mild soap and warm water. This was only partly successful. Can anyone suggest a method of returning the wood to its original color and getting rid of the strong smoke odor?
Michael Dresdner: What you must do to be rid of the black depends on what it is. If it is surface soot, it will come off by scrubbing with TSP and Scotchbrite. On the other hand, if the finish itself has turned dark, and some will with high heat, you may need to strip and refinish. In any case, Zinsser SealCoat, either on raw wood after stripping or on top of the existing finish after cleaning, will seal in the smoke odor.