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Questions & Answers

On this page are some frequently asked questions about the Kramer's Best products and their use.  If you have questions, we are always glad to help as much as we can (see Contact Us).  If your questions are of general interest, we may include them on this page.



We invite you to visit our Facebook Page. There is a LINK to it on the upper left of this page.


Don't worry. This link works just like a web page address. It will take you to our Facebook page where you can look at the PHOTOS and EXPLANATIONS of how we have used the products as well as photos and comments from our customers. You will not be required to sign in or join anything.

We have been using this medium because it is much easier and offers a better opportunity to regularly post information and photos.

And, of course, if you can't find an answer to your question, DO NOT HESITATE to contact us. We are always glad to discuss your projects and help as much as we can.

Thanks for your interest in KRAMER'S BEST. We have many happy customers -- we want you to be one of them.


ANSWER: Thanks for your interest in KRAMER'S BEST. We have many happy customers -- we want you to be one of them.

QUESTION: What aout using Kramer's products to clean and restore old guns?


ANSWER: Both Antique Improver and Blemish Clarifier work very well in restoration and maintenance of the metal and the wood of old guns.

Recently there seems to be a lot of interest in restoring cosmoline-soaked military surplus rifles. One of our customers has done extensive testing with our products and has documented his methods and opinions on his forum on "".

You can read what he has to say and see photos at:

Joe Bilby, who writes a column "Black Powder, White Smoke" in Civil War News is also a fan of the Antique Improver. A copy of a column he wrote about its use can be seen on the "Scrapbook" page of our Web Site ("click" on the article to increase size to readability).

In these cases our customers have told it well.

QUESTION: I have a rusty cast iron wood stove I want to return to working condition. I plan to use it for heating (not just decoration). My question is, if I use your Antique Improver on the cast iron and then burn wood in the stove, will there be any fumes or gases as a result of the high temperatures? (A previous stove, I sandblasted and used stove paint.)


ANSWER: Using our Antique Improver on metal that is later subjected to high heat does present the possibility of some resulting fumes. Though it might only be temporary, you are wise in questioning use of the product in this manner. Your previous choice of sandblasting followed by use of stove paint is probably best.

QUESTION: . . . My question is about turpentine. Recently I see ads for a "synthetic" turpentine that claims pure gum turpentine deteriorates with age. Is this true? If so, could you please offer a brief explanation.


ANSWER: What do they mean "deteriorates"? Turpentine is a spirit distilled from gum. It will evaporate if left open to the atmosphere (like alcohol only slower). It will leave trace elements of rosin, pitch, &c., unless it is rectified.

People who make synthetics have always tried to discredit what they desire to replace. If remotely similar to turpentine it too will "deteriorate" | evaporate.

I’m sure the synthetic is cheaper. I wouldn't use it to clean brushes.

- John

QUESTION: I read in your instruction booklet that we should dispose of the rags used with the Antique Improver. I would not keep them in their “used” state, but does that mean that we should not wash them and later re-use them?


ANSWER: The only concern is the combustible issue with “wadded up” oily rags. It is definitely OK to launder rags for re-use.

QUESTION: I have some Antique Improver and Blemish Clarifier that I purchased several years ago but have not used. It has been stored in an unheated (and uncooled) garage. I now have some pieces I want to use it on. Is it still OK to use?


ANSWER: Absolutely. The products are not affected by heat or cold. In fact, we have seen some indication that the Antique Improver may improve with age. Just always be sure that the lid is tight when the product is not in use and shake well before each use.

QUESTION: I have some oak floors on which I am thinking of trying Antique Improver. How much of the product will I need?


ANSWER: We recently had a customer use Antique Improver as the finish on floors he installed in a cabin in the "hills of Mississippi". The floors of 200-year-old heart pine had first been planed and sanded. He estimates the floor area to be 320 sq. ft. and he also used the Improver on some paneling of the same wood bringing his use to a total of about 450 sq. ft.

He used 3 applications on the floors, applied with a cotton towel on a mop-type handle, allowing 24 hours between each application. With each application, while the floor was still wet with the Improver he buffed it with a large circular-pad floor buffer using the white scrubbing pad.

This customer reports that the total amount of Antique Improver used on the project was 5 quarts. This figures out to 1 quart per 90 sq. ft. for the 3 applications. Of course each wood is different and will absorb differently, making it impossible to predict exact amounts, but his old heart pine would be as hard as some types of oak and the amount needed could be similar. There are many types of oak as well as variables in age and dryness, but at least these figures are a place to start.

And, we might add, this customer let us know he very pleased and said he "couldn't be happier" with the results. Two weeks later he had already entertained in the cabin and reported many positive comments.

QUESTION: I have an old oak dining table that has several white scorch marks on it from hot items that were placed on the table. I have heard about using the Antique Improver on water marks, but have not seen any info on your website about this kind of damage. Would the Antique Improver remove these, or is this a job for the Blemish Clarifier?


ANSWER: You are correct that we probably have not mentioned the repair of "white water marks" in our materials to great extent. The reason for this is that we are always very careful never to make any claims of which we cannot be absolutely certain. And with this type of damage there are too many variables for us to be able to make definite promises.

We have seen some very severe marks totally reversed, as have many of our customers. We have heard glowing reports of "magic" and "miracle". However, we have also seen some instances where the results were only partial or even where there was no improvement at all.

Sometimes this type of damage is very old, other times, recent. Some may be on old finishes and wood, or on a modern finish on an antique, or new wood and finish. Some of the most difficult result from heat driving moisture deep within the piece, others may be from the cold of an "icy" glass. Some of the very old pieces might have a light area thought to be from moisture, but which is actually from a perfume bottle or other chemical. With so many variables, there is no way to always accurately predict what our product, or any other, will consistently accomplish.

Our best suggestion is to give it a try. Most times the Antique Improver is all that is needed. If you see improvement with a light application of the Improver, then, given a little time between, additional applications should show complete restoration. If use of the Improver does not seem to be doing the job, using the Blemish Clarifier first for deeper penetration may be helpful, then follow up with application of the Improver.

There is a short section entitled "Water Marks & Stains" in our Book of Instructions & Suggested Uses that may be helpful [see link to downloadable version of the Instruction Book at the bottom of this page]. This section covers both light and dark marks.

Always follow CAREFUL TESTING procedures any time you use this product or any other. And, if you are concerned specifically about a small area, be careful not to work too heavily on that small area to a point that you alter the surface in that one spot, leaving it different than the rest of the piece even after color is restored.

We many times hear glowing reports of how our customers have successfully reversed this type of damage with just a couple of "wipes" of Antique Improver. We hope this is the type of results you are able to achieve.

QUESTION: I looked at your product at an Antique Mall yesterday and noticed that there was a vast difference in the product content from bottle to bottle. The cream settling at the top varied from a quarter of an inch to about 3 inches. Some had some minor settling at the bottom.


ANSWER: The differences are not an indication of any problem. Being a natural product – and not subjected to the "high-tech" processing that modern products receive – the Antique Improver does not stay in solution permanently and consequently settles some over time. The differences are because some of the bottles have been on the shelf longer than others, and also, folks like to look at the product and shake it up from time to time, which adds further to the differences in appearance between each bottle.

You may see some of the much older bottles that have hardly any "fluff" at all – and may have more "settlement" in the bottom. We have seen indications that this older product maybe works even better, especially on very old wood and finishes. You would, of course – old product or new – always want to shake each bottle well before use.

We realize that these inconsistencies are sometimes puzzling to customers, but they have nothing to do with effectiveness of product use. In fact, the minimal processing we use is part of why our products work so well.

QUESTION: We used Antique Improver on a display cabinet and got some of the product on the glass panes and now they look cloudy – as though they have a film over them. Any suggestions for cleaning the Antique Improver off the glass? Windex doesn’t seem to be working.


ANSWER: If you have some of our Blemish Clarifier that would clean the glass. If not, try some Turpentine from the home center.

[Customer Feedback: We had some Turpentine and gave it a try. It worked! Thanks.]

QUESTION: I have a veneered dresser I would like to revive. It's old, probably early 1900's. It has a white water mark on top and some of the veneer on the drawer fronts is cracked. Which of your products would you recommend?


ANSWER: The Antique Improver is your best choice to recondition the finish on your dresser. Since it contains many of the same ingredients of the old natural finishes, it goes into the finish, reverses dryness, helps the finish re-bond to the surface and reconditions both the finish and the wood.

Special care needs to be taken when working with veneer. Use the Improver sparingly, with multiple applications – don't "soak" it. If the veneer has already lifted it should be repaired and/or re-glued before application of the product.

Reconditioning a finish with Kramer's Best Antique Improver will reverse dryness, original color will be restored, and many white marks, if not too old, are reversed. Remember to use sparingly. Wipe on gently with a soft cotton cloth. If some of the finish has reached a point of beginning to "flake" off, work gently in that area, maybe just "patting" the surface with the applicator. Gently wipe off excess with a clean cotton cloth.

Wait 24 hours after the first application before repeating the process. After that, reapply as necessary – a few days, a few weeks. Test first; if the product seems to soak in, then more is needed. If it just "beads up" on the surface, then leave it alone. Over time, with only occasional applications, as needed – maybe every year or two – you will see the piece continue to get better and better over time.

Never do more repair than is necessary to stabilize a piece or make it whole and useful. There may be some severe damage or cracks that will still be visible, but that is valued "evidence of age" and is part of the beauty of antiques.

Antique Improver will help the piece be the best it can be – without sacrificing originality.

QUESTION: I saw your product today at an Antique Store. Is this product something I can use on more modern wood furniture in place of furniture polish? I didn't see anything that indicated that I could. It only talked about restoring old items. I would love to use it on my newer furniture, cabinets, tools, etc....


ANSWER: Kramer’s Best Antique Improver is formulated to work with the old natural finishes. The reason it works so well with those is that it contains ingredients that are natural to, and compatible with, those materials. That is why its use produces such amazing results. Most modern finishes are water-based, synthetic, or plastic – materials dissimilar to the ingredients of Antique Improver.

Instructions on the Antique Improver bottle label say: “Not to be used on modern water-based finishes.” This specifically refers to very high-shine finishes such as those on expensive table tops, etc. These are very delicate finishes and only manufacturer recommendations should be followed. However, there are some other modern finishes that our customers have found do benefit from the product – finishes such as those found on kitchen or bathroom cabinets, woodwork, or some low-gloss furniture finishes.

We suggest that you first read the section entitled “Modern Furniture” in the book of Instructions & Suggested Uses that comes with each bottle of Kramer’s Best when you purchase it, or is available for free download on our Web Site. Additionally, other instructions in the book will be helpful concerning other specific applications. Most important is that your first step is always to do careful testing in an inconspicuous place on each piece. This is true with any product you use.

Our product has many uses, but it is a powerful product and must be used wisely and judiciously. We have tried to cover as many of those uses as well as possible in our Book of Instructions and on our Web Site. Most important is that you use common sense as our ancestors did – keep things compatible. Petrochemicals and petrochemical-based products are of little benefit to natural plant-based finishes and wood.

Also, remember the oft-used addage: “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. The “ad/commercial-generated” idea that you must be constantly applying a manufacturer’s product for protection on all the wood in your home is not in your best interest. If you see dryness or damage on a piece, devote serious consideration and testing to determining what is best for that particular piece. Proceed with maintenance only on an as-needed basis. You will then determine by obvious results what is your best course of action.

QUESTION: Can the Antique Improver be used safely on the exteriors of old fiddles without affecting the sound quality?


ANSWER: Though I do have some luthiers using my product in their work, I generally do not recommend its use to the general public. The problem is that too many folks have a tendency to do things too much. My products are very penetrating and if used too freely could affect tonality, perhaps negatively. However, heavily distressed wood has already had tonality affected and application may improve it – too much may cause diminishing returns. If too distressed it may never be what it was, though it can be better.

My products are tools, and one must become familiar with how they work before they can use them to best benefit. It is something that requires developing a touch. Careful prior testing is essential. Old instruments or parts from a flea market that appear to have similar finishes are a good first step for testing and gaining expertise.

My Antique Improver can be used to good benefit on very dry wood and finishes. It can be used to maintain instruments only if used very SPARINGLY every several years after initial stabilization, which in extreme cases might take two or three coats. If it looks like it needs something give it a little – otherwise dust with a dry, soft cloth.

Fine instruments really don’t need much. One of the best things that can be done for them is dust them and play them. Regular touching, playing and constant handling is actually helpful and lessens the need for other materials. Locked away and ignored is when wood really dries out and loses lustre.

The single most damaging thing to wood is changes of humidity. When high, the wood swells with the moisture. When low it shrinks. This expansion and contraction breaks down the wood fibers. My products will help the wood resist changes-of-humidity-caused contractions within it; too little and it is only slowed. Only on fine instruments must we really be concerned with too much.

A good musician with an excellent ear for the instrument perhaps can tune with the product. It is best done slowly over months and years. Proceed cautiously allowing each coat time to mature and develop its full effect – be sure that it is fully considered before you do more. Unless an extreme case, give at least 6 months after the first coat, Each application should generally be effective twice as long as the one before.

If you pay close attention to the wood it will show you when it’s time for more. The wood should look healthy – when it does, no more of my product should be applied until it doesn’t.

Every piece is different and requires its own considerations before you do anything, but I am certain that too much is not a good thing. Keep that in mind as you care for your valued instruments.

QUESTION: I have used your product and recommended it for years. I was wondering if it can be used on leather? I have some old leather topped tables and some old leather covered liquor bottles that have some cracking, etc. I didn’t see any info on that particular use on your website.


ANSWER: Though several customers have reported good results using the Antique Improver on leather, and my testing has yet to uncover a real problem, I remain cautious as to the long-term effect. The reason being that old texts I’ve encountered offer warnings regarding some of the ingredients I use in regard to leather. It may be that in this formulation those caveats have been overcome, but I would rather err on the side of caution, hence I’ve not promoted or recommended that use.

Finding an effective product for leather is a challenge. I’ve worked with both new and old leathers and I have experienced several disappointments after treating the leather with various commercial preparations. I suggest that if there are any PETROLEUM ingredients listed DO NOT USE. If you choose to use neatsfoot oil BE CERTAIN it is pure neatsfoot oil. Most that is sold today is compounded neatsfoot oil which I’ve found speeds the deterioration of leather.

Do not use any oil on chrome tan leather. My experience has been very unsatisfactory and I haven’t found anything that really helps chrome tan.

Most leathers benefit from being handled regularly. Perhaps you’ve noticed that as long as you wear or use some item of leather it remains supple, yet if you set it aside for a long period it hardens and begins deterioration. Belts and bags are often-seen examples.

I wish I could be more definitive in my answer, but due to the nature of the material and the wide variety of methods used for tanning, no one solution works for all leathers.

No matter what you use, be very sparing – it is better to need to repeat the treatment rather than using too much initially.

QUESTION: I recently bought a 52-year-old home. When I pulled up the old carpeting, I found beautiful oak floors that have been covered for 50 years. My question is this: I will be sanding them and putting a new protective finish over them. I don’t like the shiny, slippery polyurethane and would like to try your product. How often will I need to reapply? Do I need to do any other special care preparing the floor before sanding? I have pets, how long after I use it before it is safe for them to be on it? How much would you recommend buying to finish approximately 1200 sq. ft.? Thanks for any information you can provide.


ANSWER: We have more and more people using the Antique Improver on floors. They are realizing the simple truth that from the moment you apply the polyurethane or other "sealer", the finish begins to deteriorate – just from normal use and wear. Using the natural ingredients of the Improver to restore the life and beauty to the wood, you keep the wood in its very best condition, letting it be its own protection, and you will see it just get better and better over time.

First of all, is there a chance that you could recondition the existing finish and avoid the sanding? The finish that is on your floor is probably one of the great old natural finishes that can be beautifully “revived” by the natural oils of the Antique Improver. If you are lucky enough to have one of those fine old finishes you are very fortunate – it is something that cannot be easily duplicated. It would be worth a try.

To recondition the existing finish, the method of application will depend on the condition of the floor. If it is in good condition, first just give it appropriate cleaning - sweeping, vacuuming, or damp mopping - then apply the Improver with a cotton cloth applicator. You may also find a lambs wool wax applicator to be useful. After giving the product some time to soak in (10 or 15 minutes), wipe off all excess with clean dry cotton cloths. If you find your floor is in need of heavier cleaning or scrubbing, you can use something more abrasive as the applicator, such as fine steel wool or ScotchBrite scrubbing pads. If it is a major project you could rent a floor polisher/buffer on which you can use the scrubbing pads. This would help a lot with the cleaning/smoothing.

Repeat the application/wipe off process until your wipe-off cloths indicate that the surface is clean. Wait at least 24 hours, then apply a 2nd coat of the Improver, wiping off excess in a similar manner. In a few days, check the floor. If, when you test some of the Improver in a small area, you see that it quickly soaks in, then additional application is necessary for total conditioning. However, if you see that the product tends to just "bead up" on the surface, that indicates that it is totally conditioned for now. Test again after a few weeks or months - "feed" the wood what it needs and will absorb. You will see, over time, that the floor just keeps getting better and better. A beautiful natural patina will develop as the "curing" takes place.

If you decide you do need to sand first, application would follow the same procedure, but obviously the cleaning/smoothing part would not be necessary.

As far as quantity is concerned, it is impossible to exactly determine how much Antique Improver the wood will "take in". It depends on many factors: age, dryness, etc. (raw/stripped wood would probably take more than applying to an existing finish). A "rough estimate" we use is 1 8-oz. bottle for 50-square-feet. That would mean that you would need 24 8-oz. bottles, or 6 quarts. This would be for the first application. Each application that follows would use about half the previous application.

About the pets, there is really no concern. We have a 130-lb. Bull Mastif, and some years ago while we were doing a floor we found her laying on it before we had a chance to do the "wipe off". It didn't hurt her and it didn't hurt the floor.

For maintenance, just dust with a vacuum or clean cotton cloth (no petrochemical “dusters”). When needed, clean your floors with a lightly dampened cloth. Re-apply the Antique Improver if you see a little dryness. If a much-used area needs a touch-up, no problem, just do that area. You will see your floors improve with age and you will never again face the “refinish-the-floors” nightmare.

[Customer Feedback: My floors look gorgeous! There were black marks that I was able to remove with the Blemish Clarifier, but some marks went deeper. I rented a sander and was able to get the marks up without going too deep and then applied the Antique Improver. The color is better than anything I could have achieved with a stain. The best part is my dog can play ball in the house without sliding around on toxic polyurethane.]

QUESTION: What would you recommend for cleaning a wooden bowl before using your Wood Food Oyl? It is sticky from some kind of oil build-up.


ANSWER: For cleaning your bowl we would suggest soap and hot water. Maybe one of the “scotch-brite” pads for scouring. In very extreme circumstances we have even used SOS pads to help get through that tough “stickiness” so often found on those old pieces. Just be sure to rinse thoroughly when finished, before applying the Wood Food Oyl.

QUESTION: I recently acquired a FREE treadle sewing machine. The cabinet is in excellent condition, except there are two old paint spills (green paint) on the top. Will Blemish Clarifier remove those paint spills without removing the finish?


ANSWER: No, our Blemish Clarifier IS NOT a paint remover and will not break down the paint.

There is the chance that if there was some wax on the surface of the piece at the time the paint was spilled, that by using the Antique Improver, it might work its way under the paint and loosen the edges slightly so that you could “flick” it off gradually. It is definitely a long-shot, but worth a try.

[Customer Feedback: The Antique Improver did soak in and allow me to flick off the paint from the sewing machine. Also, I used it on my maroon car for some oxidation spots and it really helped. Thanks again.]

QUESTION: I have an antique spool cabinet that my mother refinished 15-20 years ago. She used a wax finish – probably either Minwax or Johnson’s floor wax. It looks a little dry. Can I put your Antique Improver over the wax safely?


ANSWER: The problem with a wax finish is that, inevitably, dirt will become embedded in the wax. If additional coats are applied without first removing the earlier layers, then the dirt is trapped between – resulting many times in dullness and yellowing. To effectively restore such a piece to its natural beauty, this build-up must be removed.

It doesn't sound like this is the case with your piece. You do not mention adding additional coats of wax, and though we can't be certain, we are not aware of the waxes you mentioned containing carnuba – which is almost impossible to penetrate. We would anticipate that a light wipe of Improver will replace lost moisture in the piece, reconditioning and restoring natural color and patina.

However, you MUST TEST FIRST in a small inconspicuous area! Possible concern might be if the Improver begins to break down the existing wax, leaving it "gummy" or "cloudy". If you find this to be the case, then you will need to make the decision as to whether you want to totally remove the wax that exists on the piece. Our Blemish Clarifier is a very powerful, non-damaging cleaner for this use. Or, you could use a commercial wax remover – preferably of the same brand as the wax (for compatibility) if the brand is known. After removal of the wax, the Antique Improver is an ideal final finish. It feeds the wood, reverses dryness, restores natural color and, after sufficient applications to totally condition the wood, allows the piece to develop a beautiful soft patina – all without the build-up concerns of surface wax and coatings.

Or, you could choose to just leave the piece as it is. If you make this decision, we would urge you to not use any of the modern petrochemical-based polishes or cleaners on it. Application and inevitable evaporation of those incompatible products will accelerate the dryness. The wood in our homes will, most times, stay in fairly good shape for a very long time if it is not damaged by repeated application and evaporation of unnecessary incompatible chemicals. Dusting with a soft cloth and occasional cleaning with a lightly water-dampened cloth is a sufficient maintenance program that will not speed deterioration. If you do not have access to a product consisting of natural materials, such as our Kramer's Best, this would be your best choice.

I know all of this sounds very ominous, but, I repeat, in your case I really think an occasional light wipe of Improver will feed and enhance your piece – your testing will help you know for sure.

QUESTION: I have used Antique Improver on gunstocks with great success and now would like to use it on wood longbows. Often I use hide glue to apply a sinew back to a bow. The sinew and hide glue make a mesh that covers the back of the bow, so the hide glue is an integral part of the backing. It gives the bow its strength, but it is also exposed to the elements so it must be sealed somehow. Can I apply Antique Improver over the hide glue and sinew? I’m concerned that the solvents in Improver will possibly dissolve the glue.


ANSWER: I don’t think you would ever soak the sinew enough with the Antique Improver to dissolve the glue. I do think you would get better protection and sealing from the elements if you first coated the sinew and bow with a few VERY thin coats of fresh-made shellac, then treat the whole with Antique Improver. If the sinew were first covered with something like a rattlesnake skin it would provide even more protection to the sinew backing. I use it on my bows both stick and sinew backed.

[Customer Feedback: "I used this process and the finish turned out beautifully . . ."]

QUESTION: I have a child’s antique drop leaf table which I would like to use the Improver on as I don’t want to strip it down and repaint it. If the Improver doesn’t give it the look I want, will I be able to paint over it or will it have too much oil in it then? After using the Improver how do you prepare it for painting? I have used the Improver many times and love it!


ANSWER: If you decide you want to paint a “Kramerized” surface, you would want to first thoroughly clean it with alcohol – wood alcohol, methanol, solvent alcohol, etc. (not mineral spirits – that’s petrochemicals). Then you shouldn’t have a problem.

QUESTION: Love your products! If I put it on cane chair seats (the hand woven kind) will it help keep the cane from drying out?


ANSWER: Antique Improver will not only keep cane from drying out, it can reverse much of the brittleness associated therewith. You do need to exercise caution, but when the product is used judiciously, life and flexibility can be improved. With many of the materials used for woven seats the concern is with too much penetration. One coat is generally sufficient and often that should be a light coat, then wait several days (better weeks) before deciding whether or not another coat is needed. Never saturate a cane chair seat. Materials like hickory bark or oak splits will require more than cattail, corn husk, or cane.

QUESTION: I looked at the product labels and saw cautions that the product(s) were poisonous. I’m concerned about using them around my dogs and cats. What about the animals licking or chewing something that the product has been used on?


ANSWER: The products [Antique Improver and Blemish Clarifier] are only poisonous while liquid. They contain some wood alcohol, which soon evaporates and then offers no further hazard. My dog and cat [see Photo Album] are doing just fine and my previous dog and cat lived long healthy lives. Even if they started licking a spill, it would be hard for them to ingest enough to cause injury. None of my animals have ever seemed remotely interested in same, even though they have sampled many other oddities. [Complete "cautions" information is available on the bottle label.]

QUESTION: I am restoring an old oak table which we will use in our kitchen. I have small children who will undoubtedly lay sandwiches, cookies or other foods directly on the table surface. Can I use the Antique Improver, or should I use Wood Food Oyl as the final finish?


ANSWER: Do not hesitate to use the Antique Improver. Used in this way it will be perfectly safe. The Wood Food Oyl is for use in preserving wood that will be in constant and total contact with food, such as on cutting boards, salad bowls, etc. On your oak table, once you have wiped off the Antique Improver excess, and the piece has had a short time for the volatiles of the product to dissipate, you should have no concern about occasional food contact on the surface. And you are going to be very pleased with the way your table is going to look. When Antique Improver is used to restore old oak, the results are always spectacular. Use 2 or 3 initial applications to totally recondition the wood. Use your table normally. Clean it as necessary with a damp cloth. Occasionally use another application of the Improver as maintenance if you begin to see a little dryness (or if company is coming and you want it to look really special). After a few applications and some time to cure, you will begin to see the beautiful soft patina that enhances and protects the surface—water just beads up, and spills are not a problem. And best of all, you haven’t hidden that beautiful wood under the (all-too-common) coat of plastic.

QUESTION: Can I wax a piece on which I have used Antique Improver?


ANSWER: Most times waxing is not necessary once a piece has been totally conditioned with Antique Improver. Enough applications to totally condition the wood, and passing of time to allow curing, leaves a surface with a beautiful soft patina that is durable and easy to maintain.

You can, however, use a wax if you choose. Keep in mind that the main difficulty with the use of wax is that since wax holds dirt it is necessary that it be completely cleaned off before reapplication, else discoloration will result. To simplify this cleaning, I suggest that if you feel you must use a wax, that you always use a pure beeswax. Beeswax can easily be cleaned off with a wipe of (pure) turpentine before the next application and not risk the finish beneath. Between waxings you can use Antique Improver to maintain a buffed wax surface or finish, delaying reapplication of the hard-to-work wax.

I have considered offering a quality wax. Pure beeswax softened with turpentine is the very best you can use. However, when made without dryers it requires long waiting times for the wax to dry, and if too long, can be difficult to buff out. Traditional driers that work best are heavy metals and we have already used them to excess. I could use small amounts of petroleum-based substitutes, probably without adversely affecting performance but this is in conflict with the standards I have established.

In choosing a wax from those available on the market, keep in mind that the ones boasting extreme permanent hardness due to ingredients such as carnuba, are just that—too hard. When build-up and discoloration make removal necessary, the required powerful solvents may damage the finish as well. And, as with any product, read the ingredients, look for compatible materials, and always test first.

QUESTION: I have tried the Antique Improver, and like what it does, but it is so much more expensive than other products. Why does it cost so much?


ANSWER: The simplest answer is that "You get what you pay for!" But, of course, you deserve a better answer than that. To explain the price difference, it is first important to understand how this product is different from other products on the market.

I have chosen to make a product intended ultimately to help preserve the past for the future. The tangible historic record, celebrating the longest period of human history and endeavor, is the working and using of wood. Up until this century wood was used for every aspect of life and has been far more important far longer than oil or any other material, save food and water. It is only just now we can begin to identify a decline in its availability and use in everyday life, and a need to truly begin preserving what we have left. My product is formulated to aid in this preservation.

The materials I work with in my products have not been in general (and ever in declining) use for the past 150 or so years. This is only because they’ve always been expensive to produce. When precious extracts of oils, gums, resins, volatiles and essential emollients are hand gathered from rare plants, and carefully hand processed in small batches to concentrate the treasure within, it is not inexpensive. These best materials have always been expensive, but for results, they’ve never been surpassed.

Ingredients in my product cost many times over what the packaging for the product costs. I may have the only product on the market in which this is true — for most others, the ingredients are only a fraction of the cost of the package. If I were to price my product to the same level as other manufacturers, the price would be many times over that which it now is. For mass marketers, cheap ingredients are necessary in order to have a huge profit margin to spend on promotion, advertising, fancy packaging and multi-level markup. I choose to invest as much as possible of the price of the product into the product itself, and let simple marketing practices, happy customers and word-of-mouth advertising take care of the rest.

And I guess, in the end, it does boil down simply to the fact that, indeed, you do get just what you pay for.

QUESTION: I used the Antique Improver, and I like the results, except that it left the surface feeling "sticky". What went wrong?


ANSWER: Most often this is simply a failure to wipe the work completely dry after applying the Antique Improver, leaving a residue of the oils on the surface to dry and become sticky. The cure for this is to remoisten the surface with the Antique Improver, then wipe completely dry with a clean cotton cloth. Another situation that can cause stickiness: if the product is liberally applied too often (once every week or two) over a period of time, it can soften certain finishes too much and cause the stickiness. Simply slow down, dust with a dry cloth and let the finish firm up. Antique Improver can be applied in multiple coats initially to stabilize a piece, but once fully stabilized, should only require reapplication once or twice a year—at most three or four times. Pieces conditioned with the Antique Improver actually get better over time, even without reapplication.

QUESTION: Instructions on the bottles say not to use Antique Improver or Blemish Clarifier on "modern water-based finishes". What does that mean?


ANSWER: If you have a piece of "name brand" furniture with a high-shine finish, manufactured in the last 25 years, it may be a water-based finish. Use caution! In order to comply with environmental regulations, furniture manufacturers have been using so-called water-based lacquers, off and on, over the past fifteen to twenty years. These materials are known to be less than successful as wood finishes. They are finishes that are very delicate and easily damaged. Though Improver or Clarifier can most times be used successfully over these when used with great care, they can cause permanent damage when used only a little carelessly. Better to use only what the manufacturer recommends. Best of all, of course, is to stay with the wonderful old pieces so that you can enjoy and preserve those irreplaceable finishes and far better quality furniture.

QUESTION: I use lemon oil. I don't think I need Antique Improver. What is wrong with lemon oil?


ANSWER: Not much. Not much good, not much harm, not much lasting benefit. Think about it, do you notice when once you apply lemon oil or other modern concoctions, that the small improvement soon fades away, and the next coat seems less effective than the former? Do you notice that the more you use the product the more often you need to dust and the more difficult dusting becomes? Is the wood getting more dull and lifeless with age—not exhibiting the richness shown in the Antique Improver "before and after" samples?

The problem is that commercially-available so-called "lemon oil" preparations are simply petroleum derivative ingredients with a little artificial lemon scent added. (Usually, if you read the label it will verify this.) Petroleum-based wood care products have no beneficial uses relating to wood. They may temporarily improve appearance, but contain nothing that gives lasting improvement, and in fact, can aggravate damage over time. Lemon oil is only the less offensive and damaging of the wide range of petrochemicals available. We suggest that you try Antique Improver so you can see the difference for yourself.


John T. Kramer, maker of Kramer's Best Antique Improver
P.O. Box 8715, Sugar Creek, MO  64054
816-252-9512 / Fax 816-252-9121
E-mail:  see Contact Us

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