The goal of this page and the others in this section is to offer a sense of the variety of the furniture refinishing projects that can be done and some of the options and outcomes which might not be expected. We very often have customers come in who are surprised by how much can be done beyond the most basic coloring and coating work. Indeed, sometimes the simple is the best, but often, part of the visual delight of furniture is the interaction of the design of the finish with the design of the physical form of the piece. On another page we have given a lot of information about options in finishing, on these pages we want to illustrate many of those options for you.
In our effort to provide information we include again some books which you might find helpful if you would like to extend your understanding and perhaps try your hand at some of this work. The four books we present on these pages are each written by well known finishers, active in the last several decades. Some of the information is dated, some describes methods we don't think are the best, but all have very useful information which you can benefit from, and indeed much more than is practical to offer on this website.
Now to the presentation of some of our furniture refinishing work. Enjoy the show!
This was a great project. It allowed for a lot of creativity in developing this finish. The customer wanted a deep, intensely red, mahogany-like finish. Since the wood was a very pale color, not mahogany or even close to it, it was up to our ingenuity and artistry to create the desired look. Here is the story of the false mahogany vanity.
Here is the vanity after stripping. It is clearly a very white wood. We turned and mounted a new maple leg to replace the missing front left leg. That is why that leg looks different in color.
After stripping and repairs were done, we applied this custom made, bright red undercoat. Still doesn't look like mahogany, it looks like red paint! The magic is all built on this foundation.
Over the red undercoat we brushed on the dark streaking in simulation of wood grain.
The final steps were to apply coats of a red-black toner and then the final satin top coats.
Here is the vanity all put together. It does have a deep red mahogany look. You can somewhat see the figuring we created on the drawer fronts, simulating an expensive cut of veneer.
This photo makes the piece look much darker than the in-progress photos to the left. We purposely used flash lighting on the others so you could see the work we had done more easily.
As we stated at the beginning, this is the type of challenge that we like. We like it not only because it enables us to sharpen and demonstrate our skills, but also because we really like happy customers! It seems like when we succeed at challenges like this, our customers are even more happy with the result than we are. And that makes us even happier.
Have you ever seen a coffee table like this one? We guess not. The center of the table was at one time a pair of shutters for a ground floor window in a house in India. The frame and legs were built around the shutters and glass was mounted to the frame above. The customer who brought it to us had purchased it in India and shipped it here. He wanted a lighter look in his home. The photos are before, stripped, and finished.
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Now that you have seen what we have done for others, what can we do for you? CONTACTING AND FINDING US
Surprisingly frequently, we have customers who have looked through this website then call wanting us to do work for them but are concerned that we only work on valuable pieces. They are right. If you value your piece highly enough to bring it to us, we will work on it. To demonstrate that we also do simple jobs on simple pieces, here is an oak table top we refinished for a customer. They wanted it to look the same but with a new finish. Here are the before, stripped and after photos.
Clearly this table had been beautiful. The color was rich and the original lacquer had a beautiful amber tone. However, it had also seen extensive water damage on top. The customer wanted the table slightly lighter in color and refreshed. This also gives us the opportunity to show the effects of highlighting. The center photo shows the table without highlighting. It looks fine. However the table to the right looks even better! Highlighting essentially provides permanent shadowing.
They don't make'em like they used to! This table is proof. Each of the three sections of the table top are one solid piece of mahogany. If you are shopping, it is often a great plan to buy old. Even factoring in the cost of restoration, it can be the case that your total costs will yield something of greater value than what can be purchased new for the same amount.
We goofed when we set up the photo above. The center and left sections should be swapped. The two heavily faded sections go together and the two darker sections should be side to side.
This table had spent a long time beside a south facing window. The sun cast its rays upon the one leaf and table side which faced that window and bleached all the red out of the wood. When the customer brought the table in, she hoped for improvement with minimal impact on the original finish and patina. Unfortunately, there was not a way we knew to make this look consistent without removing the remaining finish and then removing the remaining red so as to start with a uniform color and no transition line.
One of the things that makes the work we do so enjoyable is the little stories that are attached to so many of the pieces we work on. Underneath one of the sections of the top was the above script. We don't know the story that goes with this but have our theories. Each is endearing.
Naturally this piece of history had to be preserved. To prevent the stripper from attacking it we coated it with wax.
The customer wanted originality and patina. We weren't there to see how this looked when new, but could tell it had an oil finish so that is what we applied to the table. Oil does a great job drawing out the depth and contrast in grain coloring. To recapture the patina, years of paste wax and use will have to be applied.