Frequently Asked Questions
Q: I'm not
happy with the way my ________________ looks. (You fill in the
furniture piece.) What are my options?
A: Depending on the piece's condition, treatments range from a simple
cleaning/polishing, through finish touch-up/restoration, to complete
stripping/refinishing, plus any required repairs. A thorough
inspection by an
experienced professional will generate the advised course of action.
Q: Can it be
A: A dirty furniture surface may be comprised of many components,
dust, oils from human skin, built-up waxes/polishes, spilled food/drink,
plus the micro-organisms that live in our homes, all of which can
cause deterioration of the finish. If the finish itself is sound,
cleaning/polishing is an option. Sometimes a washing with a mild
followed by a silicone-free polish, will suffice. Other times a
aggressive intervention, such as with Simple Green or like products,
Oil Soap, or Stoddard solvent, will clean the finish. Always test
cleaning agent on an out-of-the-way place before tackling the most
surfaces. Again, you may find that the cleaning process reveals
failure. Here's where professional advice can be helpful.
Q: Should I have it refinished or restored? What's the difference?
A: There is great disagreement among furniture care professionals as to
definition of restoration, while refinishing is understood to be the
of an old finish and its replacement with a new coating.
involve touch-up of damaged spots of finish, re-amalgamation of existing
finish, and applying a new coating over the old. All of those
advantages and disadvantages, depending on the state of a piece's
qualified professional can offer the appropriate options.
Q: Can I do it
A: You can do most cleaning/polishing procedures easily in the home,
requiring a professional's touch. You can also refinish furniture
but it requires time, patience, space to do the work, and often
chemicals. Restoration is generally best left to a pro.
and veneer/inlay work should also be done by an expert.
Q: What kind
of finishing materials do you use? What about glues?
A: The coating I use most is good old varnish, a drying oil. I
lacquer, both catalyzed and non-catalyzed, and shellac. I use both
and lacquer-based stains. I use adhesives best suited to the
For example, I use epoxy for stressable joints (chairs), contact cement
veneers, hide glue for non-stress joints, white glue for cane seats,
others depending on the circumstance.
Do you upholster?
A: I do not do upholstery work, although I work with an area
repair and finish the frames, and she does the upholstery. I can
structural repairs on frames and springs in most cases.
Q: Do you do
seat replacement, like cane, rush, Shaker tapes?
A: I do or can sub-contract all seat replacement work including both
sheet (prewoven) cane, rush, reed, tapes, etc.
Q: What will
happen to the value? On the Antiques Roadshow, I've
admonished about having their furniture refinished.
A: Elsewhere on this website, there's a fuller discussion of the issue,
briefly, most of the furniture in use in people's homes and offices
made after 1900. It was mass-produced in factories, as opposed to
individual pieces produced one at a time by well-known craftsmen in the
through 19th centuries. Because of the rarity of the latter
value can be astronomical, while newer furniture was produced in such
quantities that it likely will never accumulate the value of, say, a
made by Duncan Fyffe in the 1820's. If the finish is damaged, the
longer does its job of protecting the surface and if the piece is un
use, that finish should be replaced or repaired. That will
Q: What are
A: I have been in the furniture care trade since 1974, having worked
part-time for a furniture restoration business for 12 years, and been
conducting my own restoration work since 1980. I have attended
regional and national workshops. I participate in a daily email
involving over 150 fellow professional furniture care providers from all
Are you a member of a trade association?
A: There is no formal trade association for furniture 'caregivers', but
I am a
member of the Professional Refinishers' Group, which sponsors and
the email exchange, maintains a directory and archive, and sponsors
workshops. See the link to the PRG website.
Do you warrantee/guarantee your work?
A: I guarantee you will be satisfied with my work, and that it will last
minimum of 5 years under normal use. Finishes should last decades,
for properly. All glues fail at some point, but not normally in
the first 5
Do you have references from current clients?
A: I do and can give you a list. For privacy reasons, I do not
have that on
Q: Will you do
the work in my home?
A: Depending on the nature of the project, I will either do the work in
home or bring the work back to my shop.
Q: Do you pick
up and deliver? Do you charge for estimates?
A: I normally do not charge for estimates, pickup, or delivery.
How should I care for my furniture after you've worked on it?
A: Clean the finish with water or a silicon-free polish. Don't
dishes directly on wood. Don't leave sweaty glasses directly on
stress glue joints unnecessarily. (For example, don't drag
carpeted surfaces, and never tip back in chairs.)
IF IT AIN'T BROKE, DON'T FIX IT
BUT IF IT IS....CONTACT KINGSLEY
Hannacroix, New York