How to restore antique furniture

This May the Sydney Fair returns to the Royal Randwick Racecourse and is the largest showcase of antiques, jewelry, art and some of the country’s most important and rare artifacts in New South Wales. The fair runs Thursday May 30 through Sunday June 2 at Kensington Hall and tickets are now on sale. To celebrate, we asked Graeme Davidson, Sydney Fair Exhibitor and owner of Woodshed Antiques for his best advice on restoring antique furniture.

1. Talk to a professional

“It’s always best to seek advice from people working in the industry, because over the years many fine antiques have been destroyed by the handyman who put his skills to the test, to devalue the part.

Most traders are willing and happy to share their knowledge, as poor restoration is often irreversible. If you are not comfortable with completing the job yourself, you are always better off seeking expert advice, in the end it can be a faster and easier result.

Alanna Smit Home by Simon Whitbread Photography

2. Always try to preserve the original finish

“Patina is the sheen or shine that develops over the years through waxing, polishing and the effects of sunlight and everyday use. The slight discoloration on old rosewood, dents and bruises are all things that give antiques the much desired character and value. Excessive restoration and removal of the original patina often destroys the beauty and value of furniture.

3. Furniture cleaning should be done with care

“Most restaurateurs have their own blend of cleaners that they’ve developed over the years through their experience. There are a number of commercial products available and, in general, these products are quite safe to use, provided the instructions are followed correctly.

“Most oil polishes are short lived and it is very important that the oil film is completely wiped off, otherwise it will sweat and attract dust and dirt. “

“Wax varnishes last a long time because they leave a thin film on the surface. Wax also enhances the natural beauty of wood and provides protection and reduces maintenance, it leaves a clean, dry film that dust and grime cannot adhere to.

“Spray polishing waxes have been developed and are very effective on large, flat surfaces, such as dining tables, where traditional waxing is hard work. “

Alanna Smit Home by Simon Whitbread Photography

Alanna Smit Home by Simon Whitbread Photography

4. Shellac is one of the oldest types of finishing materials

“Shellac dries quickly, protects well and lasts for many years, retaining the beauty and softness of your furniture. It also has the ability to be revived and refreshed without needing to remove it, unlike some of the more modern finishes. There are drawbacks, shellac is not waterproof, the heat of alcohol, so the use of the application of this product should be taken into account.

5. Restorers prefer skin glues

“Skin glues are traditional and – most importantly – are reversible in the sense that in the future, if the same gasket or other parts are damaged and require repair, the glue can be softened and separated.

Alanna Smit Home by Simon Whitbread Photography

Alanna Smit Home by Simon Whitbread Photography

6. It is better to remove the candle wax immediately.

“Use a soft cloth, but if you let it harden, the best way is to put ice in a sandwich bag, wrap it in a cloth and place it on wax for 5 minutes. The wax will become brittle and can be chipped with a piece of soft wood or a plastic utensil.

7. The fresh scratches on the furniture can be colored using a scratch pen

“Scratch pens are felt-tip pens filled with a stain. The trick is to wipe off the scratch with the pen, then immediately wipe off with a soft cloth, if the pen is the same color or slightly darker, the new white scratch will blend into the wood and add character.

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