Restoring Period Furniture With Antique Style Hardware

November 7, 2017 Posted by kyu7

Antique, or period, furniture has a distinct appearance. Yet, few pieces are truly pristine. If you come in possession of such a piece, the slightly dirty patina and dented hardware indicate that some restoration is essential. However, refurbishing antique furniture is not a uniform process, and a few points must be kept in mind.

When it comes to antique furniture, there are two approaches to restoration: modernizing it or retaining the period look. The latter typically requires less work, while the former can have a garish, jarring appearance – an amalgamation of period shapes and modern finishes and hardware. On a basic level, the antique furniture, to keep its period look, needs cleaning, new hardware, and perhaps a new finish. Either way, a less invasive approach is recommended for restoration, as changing the furniture too much can devalue it.

Finding antique-style hardware is a challenge, but finishing presents far more complications. Not all antique finishes are identical, and before you strip it and add a new one, determine if the existing one is shellac, lacquer, or varnish, or a custom, painted finish a craftsman would have specifically created. Dirt, on the other hand, may simply be obscuring the true look of the finish, and cleaning, first, is recommended, particularly with a non oil-based product. If the wood is still uneven after cleaning, a finish may be needed, and like a cleaner, the stain should not be oil based. Why avoid oil-based products? Although the effects may not be immediate, the surface may oxidize years down the line, taking on a mottled appearance.

Hardware is a particularly crucial aspect of antique furniture restoration, and not all handles, knobs, or pulls can be used with all pieces. Save for the precise fit, antique hardware has a distinct appearance, one reflecting the architecture of its day. While modern hardware tends to have a versatile, smooth look and feel, such a style seems anachronistic when placed against the period shapes, contours, and finishes.

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