Sealant for Old Wood Cases

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    • #132405
      Kate Keil

      A funeral home/furniture store recently donated old wood display cases from the 1880s that the museum hopes to use in a particular exhibit.  They are not in our artifact collection so they can be modified etc. to safely display artifacts.  My question is the wood was originally stained and or painted inside and out and given their age that should have off-gassed long ago correct?

      Now if we repaint the inside is there a particular paint we should use?  Do we have to seal the painted areas once we are finished?  How long does modern latex paint take to off-gass?

      A couple of years ago I consulted a conservator about sealants to use on modern shipping crates and they recommended 2 coats of Camger Water Borne Urethane and letting it off-gas for 3 weeks.   Does anyone know if that is that still an exceptable product?

      I look forward to hearing what you have to say and thank you for your time and assistance.

      Kate Keil, curator of collections Missouri State Museum

    • #132407

      The wood may have long ago off-gassed processing chemicals, but wood is inherently acidic and as the cellulose continues to break down over time, more acids are released. Oak is the most acidic wood, and given the time period of your shelves, I’d guess they’re either walnut or oak. Anything enclosed inside the wooden cases will suffer from the acidic byproducts.

      A couple of years ago Conservator Marc A. Williams allowed us to post his recommendations for sealing wood on our blog.

      Hope this is helpful!

      Adrienne Berney, NC C2C

    • #132406
      Nancy Barthelemy

      I don’t know if you’d want to try this, but an easy solution I’ve used in old and historic bookcases is to line them with mylar/melinex. It’s clear and offers protection to the artifacts, books and documents in them.

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