When we talk about refinishing it's very straightforward. The existing finish is removed down to bare wood using a paint remover. This can be done by using a dip tank (a method we don’t recommend) that is filled with very harmful, dangerous and caustic chemicals. The piece of furniture is completely submerged in the tank and left there for up to three hours. Then it is removed and washed with high-pressure water and left to dry. At this point you have a piece of furniture that is saturated with chemicals and can have damage to the joints, discolored wood, or raised grain.
The other option is hand stripping. This is what we do, and what we have always done. With this method we apply a liquid paint remover by hand to only the finish. The existing finish is softened and/or dissolved and gently removed down to bare wood, which is then sanded, stained, sealed, and finished with up to ten coats of a finish designed to match the desired sheen and intended use. Typical finishes include shellac, varnish, oil, urethane or lacquer.
For restorations we do not remove the existing finish. A restoration is usually done when a piece has its original finish, and when the piece has some age to it (100- 300 years.) In this process a very gentle cleaning is done first; then the finish is stabilized. Some color may be added, and in some cases, more of the same period finish may be applied. The extent of the restoration is done on a case-by-case evaluation. We tend to be more conservative here, believing that keeping patina and signs of age are of monumental importance.
This is a very important step; properly done it adds incredible richness and depth and accentuates the grain.
Basically there are two types of stain: The first is a pigmented stain. You can compare this to finger paint; it’s muddy and opaque so you can't see through it. The second type is a dye stain. You can compare this to food coloring; it's very transparent. It accentuates the grain instead of hiding it. This is what we use.
This is for furniture that has missing veneer, missing or broken parts, or loose or broken joints. Common repairs:
Beds: repair broken or loose side rails, replace broken slats, cut down headboards or footboards
Dressers: tighten loose joints, restore drawers that don't fit properly or need to be reglued, build new drawers
Dining room tables: replace missing veneer, reglue pedestal bases, install new rails
Chairs: repair loose or wobbly joints, fabricate new parts
These problems can sometimes be repaired on site, while other times it's better done in our shop. For regluing, the joints are gently knocked apart, and all of the old glue is removed. (Glue sticks to wood; glue does not stick to glue.) This must be done with caution because if any wood is removed along with the glue, the joint will no longer be tight which will affect the quality of the job as well as the life of the piece of furniture. When the old glue is completely removed, the next step is to apply new glue. We are not fans of white or yellow glues; instead we use hot hide glue. It has been used for hundreds and hundreds of years for very good reasons: it's very strong, its all natural, and it's reversible. The amount that is used is very important since every exposed area of the joint must be covered completely and then put in clamps for up to 24 hours. Regluing with clamps is critical for a solid, long-lasting repair.
This is done in your home or office at your convenience for furniture that may have nicks, dents, scrapes, scratches, dog- chewed parts, faded finishes, or white rings from cocktail glasses. This is a very effective way to make your furniture look new without removing the item from your home or refinishing it. Once we see the piece we can tell you what can be achieved before we touch it.