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Thread: Curio quilt chest- can't get the varnish smell out!

  1. #1
    Super Member SusieQOH's Avatar
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    Curio quilt chest- can't get the varnish smell out!

    Hi everyone,
    I bought a beautiful hand-made curio quilt chest in the Spring. I kept the top open for about 3 months to get rid of the varnish smell.
    When I closed it and returned to it about a week later the smell returned. I'm afraid it will hurt some antique quilts that I have.
    Any tried and true methods? Or any advice?

    I can't ask the seller because they retired.Name:  IMG_1439(1).jpg
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    Thanks!
    Susie

  2. #2
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    I had a musty chest I wanted to put quilts into without them absorbing the smell. I used open bowls of desiccant. The kind used to dry flowers. Since it sounds like your's is the finish still curing. Maybe the desiccant will pull the moisture out of the varnish. It's worth a try. If it were summer, I might suggest putting outside in the sun.

  3. #3
    Super Member mermaid's Avatar
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    I had a rattan toy chest that had been stored and had horrible musty smell. I tried almost everything for weeks..sun, charcoal, the spray for odor, scented candles..I finally gave up until son suggested put a coat of varnish all over. The smell disappeared ompletely and I'm storing fabric inside. Don't give up.

  4. #4
    Power Poster Jingle's Avatar
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    So sorry, I don't have any ideas.
    Another Phyllis
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    Put in a bar of Irish Spring soap to improve the smell and maybe a sock filled with cat litter to dry out the varnish.

  6. #6
    Super Member SusieQOH's Avatar
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    Thanks everyone!
    I bought some Irish Spring today and have tons of cat litter

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    Super Member leonf's Avatar
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    Clean cat litter, SusieQOH
    "Sacrifices must be made." Otto Lilienthal

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    Power Poster Prism99's Avatar
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    The problem with Irish Spring is that it covers up the odor; it does not get rid of it. Things like charcoal and cat litter (it may depend on the type of cat litter!) actually absorb odors. However, if the varnish is still out-gassing, you will probably need to add a layer to the varnish. I am thinking of a coat of polyurethane. You would have to test on a small spot, as whether the polyurethane will stick or not depends on the type of varnish used. I have an old featherweight case that had a moldy smell no matter what I did. Finally found that leaving a Dr. Scholl's shoe insert containing charcoal was enough to absorb the odors. I don't think that would be enough to protect your quilts, though.

  9. #9
    Super Member SusieQOH's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by leonf View Post
    Clean cat litter, SusieQOH
    Oh darn, too late, leonf

  10. #10
    Super Member mermaid's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SusieQOH View Post
    Oh darn, too late, leonf
    Now that's a funny pix in my brain (I have 2 cats--could have shared)....But seriously, I posted above that I varnished my rattan toy chest--I should have said I used the poly cear coat. It's been in use for weeks, and nary a sniff of musty odor. I completely covered it inside out, bottom to top. It had been painted to look like a toy store and I just coated everything--successfully. It was suggested by a young man who paints cars!

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    DH builds and repairs furniture. He suggests you use a spray shellac. Bullseye is the brand he uses. You will need to cover the glass. And it may take more than one coat.

  12. #12
    Super Member coopah's Avatar
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    Baking soda. The Irish Spring will leave that smell. Ask me how I know.
    "A woman is like a tea bag-you can't tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water." Eleanor Roosevelt

  13. #13
    Super Member SusieQOH's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mermaid View Post
    Now that's a funny pix in my brain (I have 2 cats--could have shared)....But seriously, I posted above that I varnished my rattan toy chest--I should have said I used the poly cear coat. It's been in use for weeks, and nary a sniff of musty odor. I completely covered it inside out, bottom to top. It had been painted to look like a toy store and I just coated everything--successfully. It was suggested by a young man who paints cars!
    Polyurethane? Good idea! Thank you!!!

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    Sounds odd, but put a tray full of charcoal (the regular kind you use in the bar-b-que, not the gas soaked stuff) with some crumpled newspaper. This will absorb all the moisture and most all odors from all sorts of things - drawers, fridges, cupboards, chests, etc.

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    This is going to be a bummer as you probably want the quilts to be seen but...

    If you are going to store antique quilts in it, I would recommend wrapping them in acid free tissue and lining the cabinet where the fabric touches the wood with Tyvek. I would have serious concerns about anything that is giving off or have given off fumes. Gases still are given off that damage textiles, even though YOU can't smell them.

    Also, I would line the glass with museum grade UV blocking film. It is completely transparent and won't affect the look. I have just had all the windows on my house done to protect my textiles and pictures. It wasn't as expensive as you would think.

    HettyB

  16. #16
    Super Member cashs_mom's Avatar
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    Many years ago, I purchased a buffet that had an odd smell. I remember using some orange scented cleaner on it that took the smell right out. Good luck! I don't blame you for wanting to get it out. I'm sure it would get in the fabric of the quilts if you didn't. Ick.
    Patrice S

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    Power Poster Annaquilts's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SusieQOH View Post
    Oh darn, too late, leonf
    ROFL Does kitty like her new box?
    Anna Quilts

  18. #18
    Super Member Tiggersmom's Avatar
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    please let us know what worked for you! just in case i get something with this problem.
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  19. #19
    Super Member SusieQOH's Avatar
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    Okay, Jennifer- will do!
    BTW- I had a Tigger too and loved him to pieces. I still miss him after all these years.

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    Try wadded up newspaper. Leave it closed a few days with lots of paper to absorb the odor.

  21. #21
    Super Member mermaid's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by trustme2 View Post
    Try wadded up newspaper. Leave it closed a few days with lots of paper to absorb the odor.
    I tried that along with charcoal at the same time, for 2 wks on my covered porch...didn't work for my rattan chest. I am so glad I painted w/ the clear poly finish. For your piece, I would sand lightly the varnish so the new finish would adhere. But first I would test a spot ( on the inside) to see if the 2 finishes are compatible. You know sometimes the new finish doesn't want to dry. I was working over red paint.

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