Skills Used in Antique Furniture Restoration

The skills used in antique furniture restoration are many and varied. Before any work can be carried out the restorer needs to have the knowledge to identify the piece of antique furniture in question, its age, what timber it is made of, how it has been polished and its value.

Once these things have been established the restorer can then advise the client on how the restoration work should be tackled and how much it is worth spending on restoration.

Hand skills are used in restoration and cabinet making forms a large part. Any pieces of missing woodwork need to be reproduced by the restorer and must not be recognised as a later edition. Quite often a restorer will be asked to make a chair to match an antique set of dining chairs and it is important that a new chair matches the old ones.

Other types of woodwork that are used in restoration include carving, sometimes old mirrors and pictures have missing pieces that need to be reproduced.

Turning is also used where table or chair legs, finials or rails need to be made.

Repairing Marquetry is another skill often employed and various inlays may need to be made from exotic timbers that the restorer has to indentify and source.

Some furniture that is inlaid with brass (boulle-work) may need to be repaired by the restorer so knowledge of metalwork is needed, keys and locks may also have to be repaired.

The finishing of an antique piece of furniture is the most important part of antique restoration. Every piece of furniture needs to be treated sympathetically according to its age and style. The restorer must have an in depth knowledge of hand polishing skills.

A good eye for colour is also important, as any patches will need to be matched to surrounding surfaces.

Gilding is another skills employed by many restorers this is the application of gold leaf quite often to a carved surface.