Care and Repair of Furniture

Care and Repair of Furniture

by Albert Jackson, David Day


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780061137303
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 11/07/2006
Pages: 160
Product dimensions: 8.50(w) x 10.25(h) x (d)

About the Author

Albert Jackson and David Day are the bestselling authors of numerous DIY and woodworking titles.

David Day has written widely on the Second World War and Australian history, and is the author of Reluctant Nation (OUPA, 1992) and The Great Betrayal (OUPA, 1988).

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Care and Repair of Furniture

By Albert Jackson

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2006 Albert Jackson
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0061137308

Chapter One

Buying old furniture

Knowing what is a fair price for a piece of old furniture comes with experience. It varies widely from place to place and, perhaps more importantly for the restorer, condition affects the price considerably. It is also essential to keep your eye on the market--in a few months, you may find that prices have changed completely.

Come back after a year or two, and furniture that was once plentiful may have all but disappeared and styles that were ignored have become highly collectible.

Browsing the market

There's no better way to learn about buying old furniture than regular browsing. You quickly get a feel for what type of furniture appeals to you and where you can find it in the kind of condition that is idea/for restoration. It pays dividends to take your time, noting and comparing prices until you can approach a sale with the confidence gained from first-hand experience.

Antique stores

As an amateur furniture restorer, you A probably won't be in the position to renovate genuine antiques. However, most antique stores worthy of the name stock a variety of furniture, from the truly rare item to pieces that are expensive only because they have already passed through a restorer's hands, and that in itself is to your advantage. You can get an idea of how much you may save by repairingfurniture yourself, and it is revealing to discover what can be achieved by someone who makes a living from restoring furniture. The work of an expert may be difficult to see, but if you ask, an honest dealer will always point out recent restoration. In any case, a dealer knows what he or she can hope to make for a particular item, and may have been unable to pay a restorer to do what would have been required for a completely invisible repair. Consequently, you will come across perfectly adequate repairs that are not obvious at a glance, but which you can detect under closer scrutiny. Knowing what even professionals resort to will give you confidence in your own work.

Secondhand stores

Secondhand stores that specialize in the cheaper end of the house-clearance trade can be fruitful hunting grounds for the amateur furniture restorer. However, don't expect to discover an unrecognized gem; the dealers in these stores are experts in their own field and will have already sold the better quality pieces at auction. Despite this, you will have the opportunity to sift through furniture of varying quality to find items in need of repair or restoration, and at a realistic price.

Be prepared to bargain if you feel the furniture is overpriced--a reduction of five to ten percent is hardly ever refused, unless the dealer paid too much for the piece in the first place. However, you shouldn't expect a dealer to drop the price if you want to pay by credit card because banks make a charge for providing the service. Most dealers will accept a check, but as with so many other secondhand purchases, offering cash is preferable if you want to come away with a restorable bargain.


In cities and large towns, there are several charity organizations that run large warehouse-type stores dedicated to selling old furniture at inexpensive prices. Although the construction of the furniture is generally sturdy, the finish or upholstery may not suit your tastes. It can seem somewhat daunting to search through one of these vast building; however, they can be fascinating places in which to browse,particularly as they often comprise several floors crammed with a variety of furniture in different styles. There is no guarantee that you will find broken or dilapidated furniture in need of repair because of the nature of this type of business. However, with so much furniture to choose from, you will probably find something unusual that needs only a more tasteful upholstery or a new finish--making it the perfect choice for the novice restorer.


It is well worth frequenting open-air flea markets. There is often a lot of furniture to choose from, and competition, coupled with low overheads, tends to generate competitive pricing. The informal nature of a marketplace produces a relaxed atmosphere in which you can converse freely with the dealers, who, once they get to know what you are looking for, will often reserve items that they think may interest you. There is very little pressure to buy at a market, and you can examine items of furniture at your leisure.


Auctions are perhaps most people's favorite source of furniture. You are at least on a par with dealers, having an equal chance to pick up a genuine bargain. In fact, you are at an advantage because you are not looking to make a profit and can usually outbid a dealer, who must guard against paying more than he'll be able to retrieve from a buyer. Almost anything can turn up at an auction, from high-class antiques to modern reproductions, with everything else in between. Moreover, bidding for something that really interests you can be an exciting experience, one which perhaps you should prepare for with some care.

Try to visit the salesroom on the day before the auction itself. If you wait until the morning of the sale, you may not have time to inspect all the lots that interest you, and you may buy something that is not quite what you had hoped for. Pick up a catalog, which will give a brief description of each lot, plus an estimate and sometimes a reserve price, which is the lowest the auctioneer can accept for each lot. You will not find a detailed description of the condition of furniture to be auctioned--you are expected to discover any defects for yourself, so feel free to examine every potential purchase thoroughly before you make up your mind to bid for it.

Read the "Conditions of Sale" carefully. They are probably printed on the back of the catalog, and may be displayed in the salesroom. Check who is to pay the auctioneer's commission on any purchase: is it the vendor, the purchaser, or both of you? You will also have to add a percentage to any successful bids to cover any taxes.


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