The Restoration of Wood Cook Stoves

Wood cook stoves were once the core of household kitchens everywhere. When gas and electricity became readily available, they relegated the cast-iron wood-burning cook stoves to outbuildings and barns. Individuals or companies with an interest in reclaiming, selling and restoring these old masterpieces search local auctions and estate sales, newspapers and internet sites to discover antique cook stoves to revive.

Assessing the Condition

Antique stove collectors pick a stove to buy and restore with care. The majority of components will need to be present and functioning. Steel parts may be welded, but cast iron does not weld readily and is brittle. Most investors check that the cast-iron firebox is tight with no cracks or openings. The status of trimming may also be quite a deal-breaker. Trim can be analyzed before purchase by massaging a bit of brass cleaning option and a #0 steel wool pad to see whether it polishes. Much trimming is nickel and might need replating. Chipped porcelain is also expensive to fix. All these details, and much more, are considered in the decision to purchase a stove for restoration.

Eliminating the Parts

The restorer eliminates all trim as well as bolts and rivets once the choice is made to restore a stove. He will chisel replace and free all rusted bolts. Some cook stoves have translucent windows coated with isinglass made from mica. The isinglass is generally long gone, so the restorer eliminates the window frames to clean and restore them and purchases new isinglass. In addition, he removes nickel, ceramic, brass or aluminum trim pieces to clean them to send them out for repair or replating.

Cleaning the Stove

Restorers find it labor-intensive to clean an antique cast-iron stove body; they need to remove all rust, baked-on grease and dirt. Stoves are occasionally cleaned by hand with a steel brush attached to a handheld rotary tool. More frequently, restorers send stoves to a monument cleaner to be sandblasted using a fine cleaning agent such as carborundum crystals. Alternativelythey dip stoves at a chemical bath used by antique auto strippers. Restorers clean stoves with porcelain trim by hand as porcelain does not stand up to sandblasting or chemical baths.

Reassembling and Polishing

Finally restorers reassemble the washed, replated and repaired parts. They shine the alloy trim with brass cleaner solution and a soft fabric, but wash and buff ceramic components. Optionally, restorers can paint the interior of the oven and other stove components with stainless-steel paint. They generally simply polish cast-iron cooking surfaces, nevertheless. They will use two coats of special stove polish using a toothbrush, allowing a day’s drying time between applications. Then they brush and buff the dried polish until the stove gleams like new.

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