View Full Version : Resurrecting/Restoring a Folmer & Schwing 12x20

23-Apr-2010, 18:56
I picked up a 12&20 a few months ago. It's in pretty good shape, but the bellows were shot. It was windy and cold the day I pulled the frames off back in January. I sent them off to Western Bellows in February, and put the camera away until I had more free time to clean it up. It's collected a lot of dirt/dust in it's idle time before I acquired it. It's now on the far side of April, and I've still not cleaned it up yet. The bellows came back last week and are ready to be installed.
The wood doesn't need to be refinished, as I said, it's in really good shape considering its age. I would like to clean it up with something... maybe murphy soap, and follow up with linseed oil, tung oil, etc. Has anyone worked with maintaining (not refinishing) an existing finish on a Folmer & Schwing?
For anyone who has had successful results: Can you offer any tips?

23-Apr-2010, 19:58
Murphy's oil soap is ok but, I'm not convinced it is any better than plain old dish soap once it is mixed with water.. I have used a couple of products - depending on how stubborn the accumulated dirt and grime are.

I've run out of the first one...I think it is called 'Orange glow wood cleaner' or something like that. I really like this stuff. You spray it on a rag and wipe...it works and smells good.

For more stubborn stuff, I'll dip a rag in good quality turpentine and wipe the surface. I keep dipping a clean part of the rag and wiping...this stuff kinda stinks so, I'll only do this for 50 year old grime.

23-Apr-2010, 20:02
Won't turpentine strip some of the stain/finish?

Doug Howk
24-Apr-2010, 02:54
I've used mineral spirits followed by a good quality paste wax on my older, wooden cameras. If there are scratches or other finishing problems, would use Danish Oil, then extra-fine steel wool rubbing, then wax.

Steve Hamley
24-Apr-2010, 06:33
I've used a mildly abrasive cleaner used on automotive finishes to remove 100-year old gunk and polish finishes.


Meguiar's fine cut cleaner or a similar compound looks good too:


Paint care products (fine) generally work exceptionally well, wooden cameras are painted, it's just that the paint is (usually) clear. Just be sure you start with the finest possible product and work towards coarser ones until you find the finest product that will do the job.

Cheers, Steve

24-Apr-2010, 07:26
Won't turpentine strip some of the stain/finish?

Turpentine certainly won't touch the stain. I've not seen turpentine dissolve varnish when used as I describe but it might dissolve some other finishes. I guess you have to test in an inconspicuous area.

Michael Roberts
26-Apr-2010, 20:08
Both Formby's and Minwax make an antique furniture restorer. I suggest you get some and wipe on, wipe off after cleaning the wood with Murphy's Oil Soap.

Post some pix when you are done!