The former owner only saw a table with broken legs and a surface marred by water rings. As a furniture restorer, you see possibility.
Furniture restoration involves tackling any aspect of work that's required to get an old dresser or chair as close to the original condition as possible. Often, it's more than just a facelift -- it's making the item usable again and possibly even adding value. Here are 10 tips that can help you make the old new again. If you have a love for antiques, or truly enjoy finding old pieces of furniture and restoring them to their former glory, starting an antique furniture restoration business may be the perfect fit for you.
This business requires knowledge of antique furniture periods, as well as the ability to professionally strip, sand, paint or stain furniture to return it to a saleable condition. It is also helpful to have contacts within the local auction community to source and sell antique furniture. Ideally, this location should have an area in the back that can be used as a workshop for your restoration projects. If this is not possible, focus on a paart of town that is well-traveled and conducive to your market. For example, a street that has antique stores and boutiques would be an ideal place to find your intended buyers. If you don't already have contacts with local auctioneers, get in touch with them and let them know about your plans to start a local restoration business.
Not only can they help you find pieces to restore, they may also be able to help you place your restored pieces once they are finished. Finish a few showpieces before opening your store.
You need to be able to promote your antique restoration business by showing the kind of work that you can do. Display your favorite pieces in your showroom and next to them, display a photograph of what the furniture looked like before you began working on it. Antique restoration always makes for a good human interest story and your local paper or radio station may be interested in doing a piece on your business. In addition, contact your local chamber of commerce to see if you can schedule a ribbon-cutting ceremony for your grand opening. This will help get the community interested in your shop. Let people tour through the showroom and show them some furniture pieces that you are currently working on. This helps get the local community excited and shows your customers what your work entails. Place local ads offering restoration services. Even if they don't have pieces they want to sell, people in your local community may have old antiques that have seen better days. Place ads in your local paper and around town to offer your restoration services to them. This can be a good way to supplement sales of restored pieces.
I enjoy repairing and restoring furniture and making it useful and beautiful again. Our skilled associates can restore your old or antique dining tables, chairs, pianos, and other keepsakes to their former elegance. American antique furniture and traditional furniture making techniques. American formal and fine country furniture.
I would entrust my most cherished pieces to his care and furniture refinishing expertise and restoration. He did some nice restoration work and repair along with the refinishing.
We pride ourselves on our ability to work closely with each customer to ensure that the finished result will meet—or exceed—their expectation. This is a very hard concept for many people to understand. Our current neon paint may be fashionable, but it would change the work of a master. True antique furniture pieces were created over a 100 years ago. The wood was taken from very old trees and will show a different pattern than our quick-growth varieties today.
William Triplett Antique Furniture Restoration
Furniture finishes were created through different processes than our mass produced varieties on the marketplace today. A new finish will always be a neon mustache where the old patina of an aged fruit finish should be. Everything that we do to a treasured piece of antique wood furniture today should be of a nature that is easy for a future generation to reverse. Refinishing wood is not an act of restoration or preservation; this is a permanent change being made to a valuable antique. For inlays, the professional restoration services will often try to find vintage materials to use that will match the age of the item. Tiny pieces of period veneers or shells will be carefully shaped to match the other pieces that are still attached to the furniture. These replacement pieces are attached with methods that can be removed easily later when our global technology advances into an era that can recreate the exact pieces that were once on the furniture. Missing scrolled parts are recreated through a mold process. A compound like clay is pressed against an existing scroll that must be duplicated in order to make a mold. This mold is then filled with plaster or a compound that can be used like wood when it is dry. The plaster part is then shipped to a high-quality woodworker for an exact duplicate to be created out of wood. Or, the simulated wood product that comes out of the mold is used on the antique furniture where it is needed. The older furniture can still be lovely to use with all of the original character flaws showing. With the older pieces of antique furniture, it is always better to leave everything alone if retaining value is an important issue in your family. She helps her family and friends to learn how to restore and evaluate their antique pieces. Generally referring to the color, a light brown with an amber or orange cast. When done correctly, very few folks can tell the difference. There is nothing you can do to an antique that will make it more original. And if you alter its originality, it can never be brought back.
10 Tips for Restoring Old Furniture
The only exception would be a piece that has been so badly wrecked, or has suffered previous poor repairs to the point that it is either worthless, or is no longer original. If one wants a piece in perfect condition, they should buy or build one. And almost nothing will dissolve polyurethane.
I have thought about getting into antique furniture repair but it’s too intimidating for me. But seriously, repairing antique furniture isn’t that hard, but it takes a touch of artistry along with careful work to do a proper job of blending in the repairs. My dad is the youngest of 6 kids, 3 boys, 3 girls. Exceptions are those rare (often museum-quality) pieces that have somehow survived in great `original’ condition. To me, the value of an antique is not just in it’s beauty, utility or marketability, but in it’s history. Granted, most old junk is simply old junk and doesn’t deserve preservation. But unfortunately, many folks can’t tell the difference between old junk and a historically important piece. She moved in boxes that had moldy items and spores in them.
The spores caused mold to grow on a wall of a waterproofed basement.
I now have mold growing on the backs of three antique pieces. The mold is on the backs of the pieces which of course are unfinished wood. Any help would be deeply and greatly appreciated!
For mold to grow it requires a damp/moist condition. Spore are every where, in the air, on your clothes, in your home and will not grow until the right conditions are present.
There is also different strains of mold with different growing requirements. Then use a water/borax solution to wash effected areas.
You must also dry the items quickly or you have recreated an environment for the mold to start all over again. If an aniline dye stain was use on the backs without a top coat of finish you may loose some color in the process. Once dry, a seal coat of shellack will help proven regrowth by sealing the wood so moisture can not absorb as readily. However the majority of antiques that people have in their homes and use and enjoy will not be devalued, but in many cases will increase in value. Despite the impression that a lot of people have about their antiques, very few in fact find or own the museum quality, well provinanced pieces where repair or refinishing will be a factor in value. As with any trade or service, there are those who can perform well and those who’s work is questionable. But a skilled job will not only make the poiece look more appealing, it will also protect it and lengthen its life. In many cases it will actually enhance the value. They have had centuries of parlour maids scrubbing, waxing and polishing taht leaves a patina the obscures the original finish. And older pieces often reveal that complete stripping and refinishing has occured decades or centuries ago. Buy your furniture, have it well restored and then enjoy it.
I run across plenty of average quality 19th century pieces with original finish that can be repaired and revived without being refinished. Sometimes a little repair, careful cleaning and fresh coat of wax is all that’s needed to make an old table or chair or lap desk look great. And it can always be stripped and sanded down and given a coat of plastic varnish later on if a future owner needs to have it looking shiny new. Or faux-antiqued with synthetic oil finishes that never existed when it was made. As far as the ones that have already been refinished–it doesn’t matter anymore what you do with them. The best you can do is try to make it look as original as possible. The average person is usually easily fooled. Restoration is about the financial value of a piece, conservation is about the historical integrity of a piece. And unfortunately, the typical weekend warrior rarely gets past the destroying phase and into the learning phase.
I realize that the likelihood of my possessing a historically important piece of furniture is close to zero. Are museum quality pieces of furniture the only items that one would apply ?conservation?
I started out working with an antique dealer, he provided me with lots of items he had bought that turned out to need too much work for his restorer to leave a profit.
I don’t think you can learn this from books, you need hands on practice and the advice of an expert, its too easy to wreck stuff. Any restoration process is a balance between several opposing forces. Finding the right approach will differ for each object based on the constraints listed below. The antique, bird cage, tilt top table with a piecrust top that sits in the corner of a room in a historic home with a rope across the doorway is much different than the one in your living room that is used every day. The one in your home may require replacing the historic deteriorating finish with a modern finish made to look like the old original finish but offering superior protection for its intend use and still preserve its value. If an item is only for display and will not be exposed to any normal every day ware and tare, preserving the original finish would be the best choice. Some objects should only be stabilize and stored safely until new technology is developed to restore a particular condition.
How to Start a Antique Furniture Restoration Business
A professional restorer will not take on projects he or she is not capable of preforming until they have acquired the necessary knowledge and training to achieve a proficient skill level that assures treatment out come. Many treatments are optional as their function is to enhance the appearance of the object, not protect or stop its deterioration. How far one goes is a balance between what can or should be done and how much time and money you are willing to spend. When cost is a restraint, the procedures that protect from current environmental harm and stop deterioration should be completed first. Then proceed to other issues as funds become available. However the clients sentimental value or emotional attachment can place its value much higher than the items innate monetary value. Keep in mind that an items condition may look bad to the untrained eye and only require a relatively inexpensive and simple treatment to protect it and bring back its original beauty. While other objects may look very good and need a lot of work to prevent on going damage or deterioration. Selecting an experienced professional to evaluate your heirlooms, collectibles, antiques or fine furnishing is an investment that pays dividends by protecting your valuable assets and personal heirlooms. Not only that, they looked like they would fall apart any moment.
I would want to at least be able to determine if a piece of furniture was suspect in being a historically important, or a valuable antique (or both). But how do you get to a place in your training that sets an alarm of (or at least a suspicion) that tells you not to trust what the customer is saying?
At least create it and then see if it catches on. However, considering when this article was posted, perhaps not. It is always best to leave all the old marks etc.
I honestly wouldn’t recommend handling it too much if you can avoid it. Now that said, you might try sealing the stick in lacquer. Take very light passes at first just misting the surface.
You don’t want it to puddle since it could make the ink run. Just light passes letting it dry for 15 minutes after each coat. After 2-3 coats, the ink should be sealed in and you can proceed with heavier coats, letting the finish build over the ink. Make sure the lacquer binds and the ink doesn’t run. Or at least determine how much finish needs to be on the surface before it runs.
I have some wooden cupboards/cabinets that my grandfather, possibly great-grandfather built. Without being able to talk to someone at the manufacturer you could take a small peice to a local hardware store to get a computer color match. Sometimes using an alcalide stain mix is the only way to get close to the old colors.
Remember slightly darker is always better then slightly lighter.
I was recently given a burled walnut bed and matching dresser with a granite top and a framed mirror above that. The interiors of drawers are completely finished. If you are hoping to retain some sort of historical value, you probably want to leave it alone and consult a professional. If you want to keep the thing looking new and make sure it doesn’t deteriorate any further, you might look into refinishing it. Just make sure you’re comfortable using the materials and do some test runs first so you don’t run into issues when applying the finish. Does anyone know the composition of/how to replicate the ‘gesso’ base used on old european polychrome furniture, before the paint was applied?
The table has a good deal of age, maybe mid-18th/early 19th c. Spanish bovine feet, painted surface, underneath has butterfly head handforged nails, oxidized wood with old wood repairs). The paint on table top is the issue – the apron and legs have the original paint and some gilding, with a later varnish someone put on it, likely to protect the flaking paint.
I was going to leave it alone but after leaving the cold of the storage locker and coming into my home, the over-painting started to lift in a few places showing even more tempting blue original paint. The original paint underneath is matte, surprisingly strong, and applied to/integrated into what looks like a gesso base on top of the original wood.
Antique Furniture Restoration Company
I don’t know what kind of paint it is, maybe milk paint?
What i need help with is this – the roughened chalky gesso shows through in the original scrapes, and in tiny spots where the original paint integrated with the new overpainting and came up with it. As you can tell, this is a labor of love and not for commercial purposes. It has spoon carvings, and is fairly well preserved.
I can say for certain that the upholstery isn’t original, due to nail holes on the back.
I removed a piece of the upholstery from the top/head rest area. Underneath, the finish is darker and shinier, which leads me to believe it wasn’t always covered up. On age, what the original upholstery would/could have been, and what to do with the horrific amount of nail holes?
We have an antique oak table that has sustained a pretty deep burn on it.
I would love to be able to fix it for her. Joints had come loose and the whole thing rocked, front to back.
I carefully reglued and clamped, using reversible hide glue.
I didn’t (and never would) “refinish” it. It isn’t loose, it just leans, possibly due to warping.
I love antiques and preservation is huge for me. At some point in its life it was seriously neglected and a mouse or some other rodent chewed it in several areas. The finish is proving stubborn to remove without aggressive sanding.
I have been stripping a 200 year old porch bench ( been in our family for over 125 years) from the family farm.
I understand the concept of leaving it alone, but we intend to use it and in its present condition, it isn’t usable. Can’t tell what the original coat(s) of paint were.
My question is what type of paints were commonly used during that period, or were the benches just sealed and left “natural”.
I have a dining set which is a family heirloom, built some time between 1910 and 1935. It is 9 total pieces, most of which are in good condition. There are a few pieces of trim around the table which need to be re-attached and re-glued. Two of the chairs have damage from a dog chewing on them. The chairs have corner accents, in a 2″ block. One of those is damaged, and one of the cross-leg braces is damaged.
No parts were made with any custom lathe/chisel work, so replicating the damaged pieces should be very straightforward. One of the mounting screws (machine thread one side/wood screw thread on other) is damaged, and will need to be replaced. Other than individual taste/preferences, is there any glue that is preferred, or should be avoided in this application?
I live in the midwest where most “antiques” are just 100 year old oak pieces from the grandparents, which most people strip and refinish.
I like the patina, but it is dull and murky.
I always give honest opinions, findings, and experiences on products.
Bloomington Furniture Repair
The views and opinions expressed on this blog are purely our own. A seasoned pro tells you how to clean, repair and restore old worn finishes without messy chemical strippers. Furniture refinishing will be easier from here on out!
And sometimes the results aren’t as great as you had hoped. Fortunately, you don’t always have to resort to stripping to restore your furniture to its original luster. Kevin’s expertise is the result of more than 20 years’ experience working with and learning about wood finishes and furniture repair and furniture refinishing. And since you’ll preserve the patina and character of the original finish, your furniture will retain the beauty of an antique. However, if you want to strip furniture, here’s a short video on the process. The mineral spirits temporarily saturates the finish to reveal how the piece of furniture will look with nothing more than a coat of wipe-on clear finish. If it looks good, all you have to do is clean the surface and apply an oil-based wipe-on finish. If the surface looks bad even when wetted with mineral spirits, you’ll have to take other measures to restore the finish. Removing decades of dirt and grime often restores much of the original luster. Mix in the same proportion you would to wash dishes. Dip a sponge into the solution, wring it out, and use it to gently scrub the surface.
Belcastro Furniture Restoration Refinishing
A paintbrush works great for cleaning carvings and moldings. When you’re done scrubbing with the soapy water, rinse the surface with a wrung-out sponge and clear water. First, slather the ring with petroleum jelly and let it sit overnight. The oil from the petroleum jelly will often penetrate the finish and remove the ring or at least make it less visible. If these fixes don’t work, consult a pro to see what your other options are for your furniture refinishing project. Here’s a trick we learned to turn an ordinary straightedge razor into a delicate paint scraper. First, wrap a layer of masking tape around each end of the blade, and then bend the blade slightly so it’s curved. The masking tape holds the blade slightly off the surface so you can knock off paint spatters without the blade even touching the wood. Hold the blade perpendicular to the surface. The tape also keeps you from accidentally gouging the wood with the sharp corner of the blade. The curved blade allows you to adjust the depth of the scraper. If you tilt the blade a little, the curved center section will come closer to the surface to allow for removing really thin layers of paint for your refinishing furniture project.