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Refinishing Guide

 Many people ask if their furniture is worth restoring? Sometimes the answer is yes, other times it’s no. Most, but not all, wooden furniture sold today is made overseas from sub-par materials like particle board and photographic veneers. and the finishes, are less than perfect. This is good news for me, but not so good for the consumer.

A lot of older furniture, 20 year+ was made in the U.S.A from Hardwood solids and high-quality wood veneers. The furniture itself can last a lifetime. However, over the course of time the finishes can get damaged. Things like nicks, dents, scratches, spills and sun damage (Fading), usually can’t be avoided. To refinish or restore these pieces is not cheap, but it is substantially less money than purchasing new furniture of the same quality, and that’s if you can even find furniture of the same quality. Modernizing your set by changing finish, colors and hardware can give your set a totally different look and feel. Many older styles have come back into style.

Below is a guide to help my customers decide if Refinishing or Restoration is right for them. This guide, will also help you if you decide to purchase new furniture.  

For case goods, solid wood and even well applied “wood” veneers can last a long period of time. Solid wood does not always mean better,Veneers allow furniture makers more choices when building a piece of furniture, like decorative inlaid patterns or using exotic woods. Construction is the key factor whether the furniture is made from solid wood or if it is veneered.

Knowing the difference of quality veneered furniture can be tricky. First, consider the furniture maker. Higher quality manufacturers make higher quality pieces. Furniture companies like Henredon, Drexel, Thomasville, Baker, and Stickley have been making fine furniture for many years.

Pieces constructed with particle board and photographic veneers (instead of wood veneers) should be avoided, as they will not last nearly as long, especially with heavy use.

It is better to avoid investing in furniture that is just stapled or glued together, especially if the glue is visible whenyou are looking over the piece.

Drawer construction is very, very important. Drawer sides and bottoms that are made of oak or other hardwoods are much stronger, can hold more weight and will last much longer. Remove the drawers to inspect the joints.

                                            Drawers that are made with dovetail

                                            or mortise and tenon joints will be

                                            much more durable than those

                                            that are glued or stapled together.

Look for drawers that have center wood on wood drawer guides. These guides will stand the test of time. Metal ball bearing glides are fine for kitchen drawers, but should be avoided for Bedroom and Dining room furniture.

dovetail joint
drawer guides.jpg

Wooden Drawer guide

Dovetail Joint
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