Furniture Detective: Don’t underestimate sandpaper’s ability to close wood pores and even grain color

Furniture Detective Fred Taylor asks after a piece of antique furniture is stripped, what happens next? The purist will say to finish it in some exotic concoction of wax and oil and leave it alone. The hack next door will recommend three coats of tinted gloss polyurethane rubbed between coats with fine steel wool. The professional will say: "Sand it first." Sand it? Why in the world would you sand it? Because preparation is 90 percent of finishing, and the best finish in the world won’t look good if the piece isn’t properly prepared for the finish. So what exactly is the objective of the sanding process?
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Check the drawers for the first sign of age on antique furniture

Furniture Detective columnist Fred Taylor says in an effort to determine the range of the age of a piece of furniture, we have the beginnings of a built-in time line if the piece has drawers. A drawer is a fairly difficult thing to build when you get right down to it. It is a five sided box that must fit perfectly within a case (a six-sided box) and be removable on demand without binding or breaking either the drawer or the case.
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Antique furniture, like old cars, can shed some parts when the going gets rough

One thing to bear in mind while searching for your next antique furniture treasure is that this stuff, by definition, has been around the block a few times, and the road has not always been smooth. Sometimes, old furniture, like old cars, tends to shed some parts when the going gets rough. And while some missing pieces are perfectly obvious, others aren’t, and it takes a little detective work to confirm that vague feeling that something is awry.
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Furniture Detective: Hardware on vintage beds crucial to its design and function

Beds are of great interest to most people. We spend more time in bed than we do anywhere else, except maybe at work, so where we spend roughly one-third of our lives should be of great interest. In Colonial America, mobility was a key factor in bed design. America has been a nation on the move since before it was a nation, so a bed that could be disassembled, transported by wagon or boat and reassembled was a valuable asset. Read More +

As solid as dovetails, Knapp joint solidly dates antique furniture drawers

Furniture Detective: One of the first things to be looked at when trying to determine the age of a piece of older or antique furniture is the type of joinery used in the construction of the piece. Knowing the history of the technology of various periods goes a long way toward explaining clues about the age of furniture and none is more important (or accessible) than the type of joint used to secure a drawer. Read More +

Antique Furniture: Fake, Reproductions and Revivals

What do antique funiture dealers mean when they call something a fake, a reproduction or a revival? The study of antique furniture has its own very specialized language that permeates all the nooks and crannies of the field, whether it be collecting, buying and selling, restoration or just vicarious interest. Three terms often heard loosely bandied about the trade are “fake,” “reproduction” and “revival.” Each has its meaning in the real world and each has its own special meaning in the world of antiques. Read More +

New jute webbing will save upholstered chair seat

"I have an antique rocking chair I acquired at auction for a very reasonable price because the bottom is falling out of it. The canvas looking straps that hold in the sprigs are rotten and broken. I would just take them off but it looks like the springs inside are sewn to the straps. Can I replace them without reupholstering the entire chair?" Read More +

On a ‘Mission’ for well-made furniture

Like America itself, the impetus for one of the country’s most influential lifestyles came from England. The great American tradition of Arts and Crafts furniture, pottery, art, architecture and metal work began with the discontent of a young, independently wealthy Englishman named William Morris (1834 – 1896).
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