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  • Writer's pictureRupert Eachells

Antique Restoration Disasters

There are all types of people who love restoring antiques and old furniture. Some are very good at it, and knowledgeable, and some just do their best, which leaves a lot to be desired.

Restoring an old piece to its former glory is not as simple as it may seem. Over the years (decades in my case) I've seen quite a few disasters, some beyond repair!

Some people just seem to be obsessed with nails and screws. There is in fact no need for any nails or screws in the construction of furniture. Well except perhaps for corner blocks, hinges and fixing in chair seats? For example, simple wooden dowels were used for constructing chairs for decades, and are just perfect for the job!

In my opinion, there are no short courses which will teach you how to restore furniture properly. TV shows are often not helpful, and in many cases, down right misleading.

It is very helpful and reassuring, if the restorer is also capable of making the actual furniture piece they are restoring from scratch. This means they will know how it should be done and not just do a quick fix, bodgy job that probably won't last or be in keeping with the rest of the piece. Restoration work done by a properly qualified furniture restorer will undoubtably cost more, but the finished result will be well worth it.

In these case it appears that someone attempted to repair this table top (the picture shows the underneath), and simply gave up. The additional pieces of wood (screwed on) were supposed to hold the top together.

The owner of this table (shown upside-down), was told that it had been restored, and asked us if we could re-polish it to match their other pieces. The top had been nailed to the frame, and all the nail heads had just been punched and filled. Shockingly bad workmanship in my opinion, and not what a professional restorer would do.

An attempt was made to repair this oak chair leg and the "restorer" used pine in stead of oak. They didn't even try to match the direction of the grain.

This is supposed to be a corner block. The direction of the grain is wrong and it is fitted incorrectly, so it serves no purpose. What a disaster!

So if you are planning on personally restoring an antique, first ask yourself these questions. How much is the piece worth financially and sentimentally to you? Do you really have the skills to do it properly, and restore it to its former glory?
If you are thinking of getting a piece restored by someone else, do you research first, and make sure they are really qualified to do the job! Don't learn the hard way. Ask to see examples of their work, before they make start on your valued item.

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