Frequently Asked Questions About Furniture Restoration
Our effort in this section about furniture restoration is to convey something of the range of projects we have experience with. We are always being brought new and interesting projects, so if you don't see yours illustrated on any of these pages, bring it to us anyway, we can almost certainly help you with it. On this page we want to specifically address specific classes of furniture not illustrated on the other pages, as well as specific types of jobs we are sometimes asked to do. If we haven't answered your question, please ask!
- Barber chairs, school desks, other metal/wood combos
- Gold and silver leaf
- Indiana/Hoosier/kitchen combination cabinets
- Jewelry boxes, silver boxes, other felt or cloth lined boxes
- Music boxes
- Billiard / Pool tables
- Radio, stereo, television cabinets, entertainment centers
- Replacing drawers, table leaves, bed rails etc
Barber chairs, school desks, other metal/wood combos
We can work on the wooden parts of all of these items but we are not always the best choice for doing the metal. We can clean metal, wax metal, clear coat metal, we can paint metal. We don't strip metal, do plating, fancy metal finishes or powder coating.
Gold and silver leaf
Leafing is a highly specialized craft. There are individuals whose entire occupation is leafing. They are few and far between. If you can find one of them, they are truly the best choice. If you can't find one of them, we can help you but cannot promise you the same level of expertise an experienced gilder can.
Indiana/Hoosier/kitchen combination cabinets
During the first half of the twentieth century, numbers of manufacturers created their own versions of the versatile cabinets that combined specialized storage and work surfaces into a single space saving unit. There is a reviving interest in these pieces even though modern kitchens make them superfluous. Many of the components are available if the original parts are lost or damaged beyond repair. If refinishing, or structural rebuilding or strengthening is the primary need, we certainly can help and have done so for numerous customers.
Jewelry boxes, silver boxes, other felt or cloth lined boxes
Wood surfaces are our specialty. We hope you have gathered that! If the fabric lining is intact, we will either mask it or remove it if possible. If we have to strip an item, we may need to replace it if it cannot be removed intact or masked safely. If it needs to be removed, it will often be damaged as it is removed. If it is and the fabric needs to be replaced, we may not be the best choice forthat job. We can do it, but it is not an area in which we are highly experienced. You may find someone else who will do that better than us. That said, we are also not novices. We have lined trunks and small boxes and other items. We do well, we are just advising you that your expectations may demand a specialist.
Theoretically, mirrors that are missing, chipped, scratched or show a deteriorating silver backing can be replaced with a new mirror. That isn't always possible or the right choice. Glass that is either 5/16" in thickness or which is very thin with a wide, concave bevel, know as "german bevel," is no longer available. If there is any desire to retain those original features, replacing the glass is not the best option. Similarly, glass that has hand chipped curves, has a sharp concave curve which is beveled, or displays the wavy imperfections of float glass, is old glass and if replaced, will lose the markers of age and originality which are valuable.
What can be done with mirrors which show serious imperfections? First, we have enough mirrors around us we almost certainly can live with one which casts a less than perfect reflection. Second, there are a few businesses which still offer re-silvering of old mirrors. Regulatory restrictions have drastically reduced the number of such businesses, but it is worth inquiring. Third, the silver backing on your old mirror can be removed and a modern mirror can be made to sit behind the now clear glass. This approach leaves the original glass in place while providing the desired reflection from the new mirror behind.
You probably know the answer if you have read this far. We can help you with the wooden exterior but not the intricate workings inside. We are probably just as in awe as you are of how all that works inside!
Billiard / Pool Tables
We have done major restorative work to such tables but have our limits. Our specialty is restoring wood parts of furniture. We can often help with other related aspects. There are companies which specialize in pool table restoration which would be better choices for sealing with the slates, the pockets, the felt linings and such. Their work on the wooden portions would be tolerable but not usually top notch. The ideal approach would be to use our expertise to restore the wooden portions and theirs to restore the rest. That would give you the highest level of competence at each part of the job.
Radio, stereo, television cabinets, entertainment centers
If the interest in these pieces is to restore the components to function once again, we would say you will need to find a specialist in restoring old radios, televisions or stereos. We can help with the wood portions only. However, we regularly get requests to reconfigure these sorts of items into a form that will be useful today. Remove the old components, add shelves or drawers, refinish unfinished parts, and so on. Can do, have done! Bring your piece in so we can discuss with you your desires and how we can help.
Replacing drawers, table leaves, bed rails, etc
Fabrication is not our focus but we do have a limited ability to create replacement parts. When a furniture component is missing or so badly damaged that it is not salvageable, we may be able to help by building a replacement part. This works best with antique or unique items. With modern cabinet doors or drawers, you are best served going to a cabinet shop. They are set up to create modern pieces quickly and efficiently--and less expensively than we can. However, if you need to replace a drawer from a one hundred fifty year old cabinet, and want the new drawer to be made so it looks consistant with the older piece, we are your best choice for that job. We understand old ways of doing things and have practice replicating old techniques and forms. For another example, if you have a one hundred year old table and need a new leaf, we are your best choice. The reason for this may not be obvious, so consider with us a few important factors. Wood shrinks with age. When making a new leaf, it is rare that a new, square, perfectly make leaf will work with the old table ends. Almost always, either the leaf or the table ends will need to be adjusted to mate with each other. We are also accustomed to the unique demands of making new wood resemble old wood in color. It is best to bring your project to us first. We can advise as to the best way to approach making the replacement part you need.