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INSIDE & OUT : Start With Finish to Remove Rings


Q. We have a country pine table that's 5 years old. It has a simple beeswax finish. There are a few white rings on the table created by wet glasses left on the wood. Is there an easy way to remove them?

H.I., Tustin

A. The rings are created by moisture that has gotten under the finish, which in this case is wax, says Mark Bausman of Bausman & Father Furniture Refinishing in Huntington Beach. With very fine steel wool, you can rub down the rings to make the grain even with the rest of the wood.

After you've gone over the rings and any other blemishes in the table, wipe it down with a clean cloth to remove any residue from the steel wool, then apply a new beeswax finish to the tabletop.

Unfortunately, you won't be able to just spot finish it, because the area you work on will look different from the rest of the table. However, applying a beeswax finish is relatively easy because removing and reapplying a varnish or lacquer coat isn't involved.


Q. We recently painted one of our bathrooms and found that the walls above the shower stall have become spotted with mildew. We can remove it with mildew cleaners, but is there something to spray on the walls to keep them permanently clean?

B.K., Westminster

A. Because they're often so poorly ventilated, shower stalls are almost always going to have a mildew a problem, says Joe Ragsdale of Color Center in La Mirada. The first thing to do is clean the walls with a mixture of TSP and water, then with bleach and water.

After the surface is dry and clean, apply an oil-based primer and then a marine-enamel finish coat. This type of enamel is designed for use around salt water, and it provides a very tough protective finish. You may also want to keep the bathroom window open as much as possible or use the vent fan to prevent a buildup of moisture in the shower.


Q. Could I put enough solar electric panels on my roof or in my back yard to supplement the power I use in my home? My electricity bills soar in summer with the air conditioning and pool pump costs. I'd like to take advantage of all that sun.

L.L., Yorba Linda

A. You probably could find the right panels to provide your house with quite a bit of power, but the initial expense may be a problem, says Kathy McNally of McNally Electric Supply in Los Alamitos.

Because of the cost of buying and installing the panels, it may take a long time before you see any savings in your new power source. It's usually better to have solar power for specific items. For example, if you have an all-electric home, you can save on the costs of heating the water in your home and pool by using solar water heater.


Q. The leg on my old armchair has broken off. It's supposed to screw into a metal nut embedded in the wood frame underneath, but the nut has broken out of the wood, and I can't see how it can be replaced. Any ideas?

B.P., Cypress

A. If the wood has been splintered and the nut can't be secured inside, you may need to replace that piece of wood, says woodworker Dave Ells of Santa Ana. If you can secure the nut but the wood around it is damaged, you can screw a small piece of sheet metal with a hole in the middle where the leg fits into the nut on the wood. This reinforces the wood and helps it support the weight placed on the leg.


Q. Is it a good idea to spread cat litter on a driveway under an oil-dripping car? Is there anything that works better?

F.E., Santa Ana

A. Cat litter will help absorb oil drips, as will any of the other absorbing sand and grit designed for that kind of use, says concrete contractor Steve Roman of San Clemente. It's probably better, though, to use an aluminum drip pan, available at most auto parts stores, and keep it under the car. It's not as messy as cat litter and easier to clean.

If you have a question about your home or garden, A Helping Hand will help you find the answer. Send questions to: John Morell, Home Design, The Times Orange County, 1375 Sunflower Ave., Costa Mesa, CA 92626.

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