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How Work of Man Restores The Finish on Antique Furniture

How Work of Man Restores The Finish on Antique Furniture

Our finish restoration process centers around retaining as much of the existing finish as possible. Only in extremely distressed situations will we even consider stripping a piece down to the bare wood. In doing so, we retain the patina that the aged finish adds to the piece and do not disturb the filled grain of the wood which is so critical in achieving a smooth even surface. 

Our first step is to first remove all of the old wax and dirt buildup with an old school mixture. We then do a light sanding on the finish surface with very fine grit sandpaper to get down to a stable layer of the original finish. After the light sanding we apply a bonding agent which helps the subsequent coats of varnish adhere to the existing finish.

We then begin to build up the finish with additional coats of finish. We only use varnish & shellac - very old school. We will put on as many coats of finish, sanding in between each coat, as is necessary to even out the finish and fill any voids.  If there are any deep nicks, scratches or stains we do not try to remove them - but leave them to add to the character and patina of the piece. In most instances we will build up the finish with multiple coats to cover over the nicks and scratches so you don't feel them as you rub your hand across the surface. The nick, scratch or stain will appear beneath the surface - evidence of the age and history of the piece.

After we achieve the build-up we desire with the finish we will do a French Polish over the entire surface - applying several coats until we achieve the sheen we desire. The entire piece is then buffed out with a lubricated abrasive and then given a good waxing.

Our process is not designed to make a piece look new again - it's designed to make it look like a well cared for piece that has a history to tell . . . 

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