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Caring For Your Refinished Furniture

We are often asked about the care of furniture after refinishing and just in general. The following are some thoughts on the subject.

Tables:

We use, as much as possible, water based environmentally friendly stains and finishes. We have done extensive testing and found that the products we use are equal to and usually better than less friendly finishes.

However, this type of finish does require a longer cure time. It is currently completely dry and usable but extra care should be used for the first 30 days.

The care of this finish, like any fine finish, involves dusting as necessary and waxing with a good quality paste wax 2 or 3 times a year. (We recommend “Rydenor“, which we carry). Please don’t use any of the spray waxes or products like Liquid Gold as most of them contain silicone. If you need tips on applying wax please don’t hesitate to ask!

The use of coasters and hot pads is also recommended. Never leave a flower vase full of water on a table. It may sweat and leave a ring or be knocked over by a cat, child, earthquake etc. and not be discovered for days or even weeks. We get many calls a year where this has damaged an otherwise good finish - whether an older finish or a new one. Again, a good coat of paste wax will help protect the finish. There is no need to use paste wax on other parts of the table: we use “Howard’s Feed and Wax” or “Finish Feeder“. Never leave plastic or vinyl on a table because in time it will “melt” into the finish.

Most wood fades with time and particularly in the presence of strong sunlight. If this is a dining table in a sunny room rotate it every 6 months and/or keep the blinds/drapes closed when the room is not in use. If blinds/drapes aren’t used consider a sun blocking film on the windows. This will not only protect the finish of the wood but also help keep the joints of the wood from drying out and splitting or cracking.

Chairs:

Chairs take a lot of abuse. Some chairs are, frankly, best used for sitting your favorite teddy bear on or occasional use by adults. Reserve your sturdier chairs for your heavier friends. NEVER allow anyone to tilt back on two legs of a chair. Not only is it bad for the chair but it is also a good way to get a broken neck! To care for chairs and other small pieces we use Beeswax based products like “Howard’s Feed and Wax” or “Finish Feeder”. Lemon oil polishes are ok if you prefer.

Refinishing:

Much has been made of Antiques Roadshow and not refinishing furniture as it may lower the value of the piece. While this is true if you have an antique by a known cabinetmaker (Hepplewhite, Stickley, Duncan Phyfe, etc.), pieces from the Victorian and later years were essentially mass produced and are fine to refinish.

Interesting enough, antique cars are just the opposite: A restored car is worth far more than an unrestored one!

Repair:

If something is broken, have it repaired! If you leave it broken for historical reasons (unless, perhaps, Winston Churchill sat on a chair and broke it while signing documents at the end of World War II!), all you really have is a broken chair that is likely to get broken further or discarded. Be sensitive to the age of the piece and repair it using methods and glues of the period. Be particularly sensitive to making repairs that can be reversed in the future if necessary. (This can be beneficial if better methods of repair are discovered.)

A set of chairs is always worth more than the individual chairs priced separately. So do whatever you can to keep an entire set together.

Recaning:

Cane comes from the hard outer bark of the Rattan palm, a spiny climbing palm. Over two hundred species of rattan palms, grown in tropical and sub-tropical areas, exist. The bark is cut into thin strips which are used in cane seating. The chief exporters of this material are Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines.

Cane seats go back several thousand years. The original caned seats were probably made in China although various wicker and natural rush seats date back to ancient Roman and Egyptian times. The west was introduced to cane chairs once trade was established with China. In the eighteenth century, the first chairs, although quite crude, appeared in Britain, France and Portugal. But within a hundred years, thanks to master craftsmen and the advent of the Industrial Revolution, cane furniture became the rage. Some of the famous, and now most sort-after, names of excellent furniture craftsmen include Chippendale, Thonet, Stickley, Hitchcock, Sheraton, and Heywood-Wakefield.

The difference between "press" or "prewoven" cane and handcaning is that prewoven cane is pressed into a groove cut into the wood. Hand cane starts with a single strand of cane and is woven through holes drilled in the seat or back in a seven-step pattern producing the most common pattern seen.

Touch-Ups and Scratches:

It's best to leave touch-ups to experts. However, it's fine to use a non-silicone cleaner, such as Old English or Howard's Restore-A-Finish, on it.

Materials:

Whenever possible, we use old wood to make repairs. For refinishing, unless it is a period piece calling for shellac or wax, we use environmentally friendly water-based finishes if at all possible.

Where to Buy:

Antiques can be found anywhere! If you find something you like and can afford it, buy it!

Furniture bought at Department stores is worth about half it's value as soon as you leave the store and will not gain in value.

An antique (a piece that is over 100 years old) or a semi-antique (a piece that is 70 to 100 years old) will generally retain or increase in value (often dramatically). Even pieces from the 1950's, although not by definition antiques, have become collectable and command high prices.

Valuations:

The value of antiques and collectables can be likened to the stock market. What is in vogue now is not later or earlier. When Barbara Streisand was collecting Mission Oak, it's value soared. When she sold it, it dropped somewhat.

Styles go in and out of fashion. Prices usually, but not always, go up.

But if you like a piece, buy it not for its intrinsic value, but for the value it gives your home. If it increases in value, great! If not, at least you've enjoyed the pleasure of a well made piece of furniture. Who knows? It may be next year's hot buy!

Call the Doctor

KIT MOSDEN - Surgeon General
Fort Bragg, CA.
(707) 962-9004
kit@mosdens.com

 

 


At Mosden's that's what we do. We give yesteryear another chance. We've spent the past 35 years restoring, repairing, refinishing, recaning, & splint weaving almost every piece of furniture imagineable. We've had the priviledge of working on items from many different time periods and from all over the world.

Some things ARE worth keeping. We're here to help.

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