Restoring antique furniture might seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be if you have the right tools and skills. Here are some useful tips for bringing a piece of antique furniture back to life.
1. Set a budget and list of tools/products you’ll need
What might have looked like a short DIY job can turn into a time-consuming, money-draining project if you do not have a clear idea of all the work involved. Make sure to plan out your budget carefully and buy any products or tools you will need before you start working. This way you’ll avoid unwanted surprises, like finding out a week into the project you have the wrong size tools or the wrong type of product.
2. Make sure your working environment is safe
Many first-time DIY enthusiasts tend to be a little careless on the safety side of things. Though beware: just because you're working in your garage does not mean you shouldn’t have professional-level safety gear and appropriate protection from any harmful products you may be working with. Varnishes, wood strippers and other substances used in furniture restoration can release harmful fumes and can be dangerous if spilled. Make sure to wear goggles to protect your eyes, long sleeves and gloves when you are working on an item.
3. Clean the item gently before you begin
No matter what kind of restoration work you're doing, it’s important to clean the surface and remove any buildup of dirt before you start working. Gently wipe the surface with a moist cloth, using a soft toothbrush to get into hard-to reach nooks and crannies.
4. Removing wax deposits
Candles look beautiful on vintage furniture, but dripping wax can solidify and become hard to remove or leave a permanent stain. If you haven’t wiped the wax off with a moist cloth while it was still soft, you can apply ice (wrapped in a soft cloth) and scrape the wax off once it becomes brittle and easier to remove.
5. Removing ink stains
Ink stains can be tricky to remove; many people choose to leave them as they consider them to be part of the piece’s character. If, however, you choose to try and remove them, there are several best practice methods: use a piece of cotton wool, dipped in white vinegar, lemon juice or a mixture of lemon juice and salt. Rub the surface gently, rinse with a damp cloth and dry, finishing with a stain to match the colour of the spot to the surrounding area.
6. Treating woodworm
The presence of woodworm does not always mean a piece of furniture is permanently damaged, in fact it is often treatable at home without the intervention of a professional. There are many commercial woodworm killing fluids available on the market that are very effective in getting rid of the problem; remember to test the liquid on a small area before treating the entire piece, as it might react badly with the wood, and always wear gloves when handling woodworm killer as it contains harsh chemicals.
7. Applying wax
Applying furniture wax is the best way to preserve an item’s finish and keep it clean and polished. Use a soft cloth dipped in wax and rub the surface in circular motions, finishing by applying the wax in the direction of the grain. Do not apply too much as this can cause buildup and streaking, leaving you with a dull finish.
About D&A Binder
Over the past 40 years, we have gained a reputation as the country's leading specialist for traditional and antique shop fittings. Our team of dedicated carpentry and antique specialists have supplied exclusive retail outlets worlwide. We pride ourselves on our ability to cater to all private and retail customers, including quaint townhouses in London, grand shopping malls in Los Angeles and luxury retail exhibitions in Japan.