In the age of furniture warehouses and ‘build it yourself’ furniture, the prospect of filling your home inexpensively can be an inviting proposition.
There is a reason bargain big box stores can offer low prices on their inventory - it’s cheaply made. Think about it: the fiberboard used in bargain furniture and even the backings on some “higher end” furniture is literally sawdust held together with glue.
I let these purveyors of particleboard deceive me in my early twenties and filled my apartment with furniture. It looked great for a year or so, until I moved, and half of the items took on a certain sway, like a high rise in a Taipei earthquake. That was approaching two decades ago and it goes without saying that none of that furniture is in use today. It has been relegated to the trash heaps of history, ‘filings to filings, sawdust to sawdust’.
Antiques, on the other hand, were built to last; by craftsman the likes of which are few and far between in our modern era. The old growth hardwoods used in furniture made around the turn of the 20th century and before, have a tighter grain and density than even the hardwood furniture made today.
There is a reason antique pieces last for generations; they were built to.
Even with the best of care, time has its effects on everything, and antique furniture even with its good bones, may need a facelift. Repairing and restoring antiques keeps the past alive and can keep a piece of history vibrant for generations to come.
Here at Ski Country Antiques & Home, we take pride in keeping with the tradition of antique repair and restoration and thought you might like a peek behind the scenes of a piece I recently restored for a client. The piece is a bookshelf dating from around 1910, and it came to us all the way from Florida. This piece has survived a botched restoration attempt, a flood, and what looks like a possible chainsaw dismemberment of the case’s entire left side. Feast your eyes:
If a piece needs new wood, as was the case with this case (pun intended), we use our extensive network of suppliers to source the exact wood needed and hand-select boards for their beauty and matching wood grain. This bookcase is made of high fleck quarter-sawn white oak, a wood you can’t just pick up at your local hardware store.
What can be one of the most time-consuming details on a restoration project is the carvings or decorative moldings that require new replicas to be made. We have many avenues at our disposal including, CNC (Computer Numerical Controlled) carving, dremel, and traditional hand carving. The decorative onlays of the corner capitals on this bookcase have seen better days, and half of the left side was missing, so the only option was new capitals.
Matching color and finish is another aspect of furniture repair that takes an artistic eye. The color on this case was a careful blend of golden, pecan, amber and the smallest amount of walnut. If your piece needs a water-based finish, oil finish, wax, varnish, shellac or lacquer… yeah, we can do it all.
By restoring this bookcase, we have taken a piece worth around two or three hundred dollars, which is basically the cost of the wood if broken down, and now have a piece that could retail for much more and will last for the owner’s family for years to come.
If you have a piece at home, maybe a “fixer upper” you have acquired and meant to get to, or a long time family heirloom that needs a facelift, give us a call or send us some photos and we can discuss helping you bring that piece back to life.