your furniture questions and problems answered
      The question I'm asked most often by clients is, "What is MDF, and how safe is it?" Medium Density Fibreboard is just a lot of fine sawdust mixed with a resin and pressed and cooked to form a very stable sheet material.  There is a health risk, but so far as I'm aware the risk is only present in the dust. 
    Click here to learn more about the health risks involved with using MDF.
      Many of you have asked, is children's furniture is only suitable for children.
    I reckon people don't actually grow-up, we are all children who just grow old.  My furniture is normally made for an adult's proportions, unless another size is specified.  And I know several very old children who have bought my furniture for their own use.  And if you want a bed adapted for married life, no problem. (In fact there is a rather naughty RoomMates double bed, four feet on the footboard , the two inside feet inverted)

      Jill e-mailed to ask,  How to repair a ciggy-burn on her coffee table?
    Easy.  Give up smoking, and the money you save, pay a professional furniture restorer to do the job.  This requires a lot of skill and patience to make the mark unnoticeable.  But if you insist, go to your library and ask for a book with each stage illustrated for you to follow

    Mrs Louka from Droitwich phoned to ask, Is there anything I can do for the splitting on her pine furniture ?

    Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhh.......... , or to put it another way, not really.  What has probably happened is a simple case of modern living conditions clashing with the simple needs of solid pine furniture.  Houses these days have central heating and double-glazing as standard, and this is bad news for the fibres of any timber.  When splitting does occur I can only suggest that you be patient, and wait for the timbers to relax over a period of months, and then apply a filler, and polish to match the surrounding fibres.

    Suzanne e-mailed to ask what sizes of mattress are available
    I spoke with my mattress maker.  He says any size, almost.  Start with a standard 36"x75" mattress and reduce or enlarge the width or length in multiples of 3"  this has something to do with the size of the springs.  A small infants mattress is supplied CE approved with a holey pillow area and a wipe clean body area at about 27"x54".  As a rule, if you are buying a bed from me, I simply pass on the cost of the mattress without a mark-up, (you pay what I pay).  Of course you can always opt for mattress grade foam, in any size and shape, not quite as good as spings, but much more versatile, and cheap.

      Mrs.Shergill in London SW13 asks which finish I would recommend on everyday furniture...
    This depends very much on your use of the furniture.  The most indestructible I have found in a child environment is Danish Oil.  I used Danish Oil on my kitchen table, and it has been soaked, scratched, scribbled on, and singed, and it comes up smiling every time.
    I generally use a catalyzed lacquer on furniture, this is generally hard wearing and very easy to keep.
    Beeswax is not usually suitable on areas which may be used for setting hot or wet objects.
    Polyurethane varnishes, I can't recommend, although they are cheap and easy to apply, they are difficult to get right.  Thin it to a milk consistency and apply several coats until you have the finish you want.

      Mrs Carruthers phoned me to ask is there a cure for a chronic case of woodworm
    There are many insecticides available for this nasty creature, Rentokil supply a very good cure available at most hardware stores.  Be sure to take the relevant precautions.  However, if this infection is as bad as you have described, take your furniture outside to a well ventilated area, and apply a liberal quantity of diesel oil, and burn the buggers in their beds.

      Baljit, e-mailed to  ask, can I recommend a mattress for her son's first bed.
    Cot mattresses are of course subject to British Standards Institute regulations, always look for the BSI kite-mark.  Bed mattresses I would recommend that you buy a new one.  Old ones look and feel OK, but you can't be sure, especially with the risk of asthma.  There are dozens of styles and prices to choose from.  Basically, when you sit on the mattress you shouldn't be able to feel the bed slats, firm is better than soft, and if you buy a decent one it will far outlast a cheapy.

      Felix e-mailed to ask, where can I get a good choice of cabinet handles?
    You have probably noticed that the choice in the shops is pretty poor.  You will need to find a supplier under "furniture fittings" in your Yellow Pages.  You can now buy online from the Hafele catalogue, which has an abundance of furniture fittings. Also try the Isaac Lord web-site who have a good mail order service.

      Shirley e-mailed with a problem......
    I'm afraid you will need to refer that kind of question to your gynaecologist, but it was very kind of you to share your problem with me in such a descriptive manner.

      Diep e-mailed to ask how to get a dent out of his coffee table top
    I can't say that this will be a cure, but it can work quite well.  Steam it out.  I use a damp piece of cloth or cotton wool, and a hot smoothing iron.  What has happened is the knock has compressed the fibres of the wood.  By placing the damp cloth on it and heating it you force steam into these damaged fibres and swell them.  It's not easy to get it just right, but if you're careful you should be able to make an impression on the depression.

      Pauline e-mailed to ask,  How do I remove those white-rings or water marks from my spiffy dining room table?

    You need to create a very fine abrasive to remove this mark, but be careful using this on a highly polished surface, as you may be left with a dull patch. Most DIY stores sell specialist products for this common problem, or you can experiment with a recipie of my brother's: mix up some mayonnaise and fag ash (salad cream and cigar ash will do just as well), and rub it in over the mark. If you are a non-smoker, my brother will happily come along and produce the cigarette ash for a very small fee.

    ( I suggest this cure be tried on a small area to check results before you get too excited and apply it to the entire area )

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