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ANTIQUE FURNITURE RESTORATION DISCUSSION BOARD

Introducing myself to the forum

Posted By: Roger DeMuth <fero@sbcglobal.net> (adsl-68-72-215-97.dsl.akrnoh.ameritech.net)
Date: 10/7/4 18:33

Hi to all my fellow restorers,

I just found this web site and hope to be a regular contibuter now. I have done refinishing and antique restoration for 30 years - 20 professionally. I'm not a novice but have noticed many people who ask questions are. I have responde to several questions people have posted and I'm sure my fellow pros would disagree with some of that advice. MIght even disagree about my longwindedness (is that a word?). It is easy for a pro to tell someone to get their piece done professionally. More business for us right? Or to tell someone that adding finish to an antique will kill the value and should never be done. Both are true but we live in the real world. Not everyone comes to us for refinishing. There are lots of DIYers out there and most have the sense to leave a valuable piece alone and give it to a pro. And some just don't think they can afford us! They don't realise that $400 to refinish a piece that would cost $2000 new today is a bargain!

My business is based on a customer base where the homes are $500,000 plus, and not all are 25 cent millionaires with a fantastic house furnished with lawn furniture. Not all people are like my customers though and I recognise that. We, as professionals helping DIYers should know that not all can afford $100-200 to buy veneer. I've been there - I know. Lets think outside the bun as it were and come up with ways to make their furniture great with the least expense and effort. Not everyone has the patience of an antique restorer!

I couldn't help but notice that many of the replies were very short. Very basic information given. My first reply followed another pro. His reply was 3 lines long - mine was several paragraphs. Long winded yes, and I agreed with him but I felt the person needed more information to make an informed decision. More options.

Lets give these people more options. As professionals we know there isn't only one way to do things. Simply telling a person that no antique should be refinished because it will hurt the monetary value isn't enough. I recently did a piece for a woman about my age - I'm 57. Her great grandfather built a bedroom set and she wanted me to refinish the last remaining piece. I was leary because I knew it was very old. On top of that it was made of solid crotch grain walnut! 5/4 thick! It had to be worth a bundle and I explained very carefully that it's value would be cut to about 20% if i refinished it. I've learned that most people don't really care how much a piece is worth (except for bragging rights). I have an oak secretary worth about $25,000 and its been refinished! Had I known the value I probably wouldn't have done it but it was the first piece I ever did - at age 24. I didn't know then.

My customer with the walnut dresser understood the pitfalls but her plan was to give it to her daughter, knowing said daughter might not care for it like she should. She therefore wanted the best finish available - ie. least maintainance. That finish was obviously urethane. Not exactly original but hardy. Best work I had ever done, but consider what I was working with!

My point here is when we give advice, lets give complete information. We could all write books on what the instructions on the back of the can don't tell you. "Brush finish on with the grain". My first coat gets basically slopped on against the grain then smoothed out and tipped off with the grain. Let's tell them what they won't learn from the MInwax can.

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