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What does a Furniture Restorer do?

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  • Written By: D. Jeffress
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  • Last Modified Date: 18 November 2016
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A furniture restorer performs delicate repairs, touch-up refinishing work, and complete overhauls on antique or worn-out pieces of furniture. Depending on the item and the client's wishes, a restorer might spend anywhere from a few hours to several months working on a single piece. Most professionals are highly-skilled woodworkers and upholsters who are capable of refinishing a wide variety of items. Others specialize in their trade, working primarily with metal pieces or antiques from a specific period. A furniture restorer may run his or her own business or be employed by a specialty store, retailer, or museum.

When a client brings in a piece of furniture, the restorer typically gives it a quick inspection, asks about what type of work he or she wants done, and provides a price quote. Some people simply want their old couches or tables to look new again, while others are hoping to recapture the elegance of fine antiques with precision refinishing. The furniture restorer can explain what he or she will need to do and make sure the client is content before taking on a job.

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Beginning a restoration project on a worn-out wooden item, such as a living room chair, typically involves stripping off paint or varnish and sanding away impurities. Broken legs may need to be glued or replaced, and large cracks can be repaired with wood filler. A restorer might use a variety of tools, from mechanical wood lathes and sanders to hand-held saws and screwdrivers. Once reshaping is finished, the restorer can repaint or varnish the item and replace upholstery if necessary.

Antique restoration usually requires a different approach to make sure the piece retains as many of its original qualities as possible. The job may involve polishing scratched metal pieces or carving away wood impurities by hand. A skilled restorer might need to re-etch original designs and patterns back into wood or touch up painted images. Professionals with several years of experience in the field may get the chance to become antique dealers or conservators at history museums.

In general, there are no strict education requirements to become a furniture restorer. Many professionals hold high school diplomas and develop their skills through on-the-job training. In order to improve their credentials and knowledge, some workers attend woodworking programs at technical schools or community colleges. The opportunities for starting a business from scratch can be hard to come by, so most furniture restorers begin their careers as woodworking apprentices or employees of a specialty store. With time, experience, and a proven reputation, a skilled furniture restorer can consider self-employment.

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mobilian33
Post 3

I have an old rocking chair that my great granddaddy made for my grandmother. The chair is handmade and it has been treated like a prize possession over the years. Recently, I took the chair to a lady in town who restores antique furniture so she could clean it up a bit. She told me that if I ever want to sell it she could get me a couple thousand dollars for it easily, and she could probably get more than that.

Drentel
Post 2

It's amazing how people's tastes in furniture are always changing, but the really good antique furniture never goes out of style. A good piece of old wood furniture looks appropriate and stands out in a good way no matter what types of pieces you have around it.

I have a lot of old pieces that belonged to my Mama and Daddy and my grand parents and great grandparents. The pieces have been stored away in various places over the years and some of them have really been worn by use and neglect over the years. I'm hoping a good furniture restorer will be able to do something to restore at least some of the pieces to close to the way they were during their best days.

Animandel
Post 1

I started repairing, refinishing and restoring used and old furniture as a way to save money. That was many years ago. Now I still consider myself a furniture restorer, but now I do the work simply because I love it.

I have more furniture in my house and stored in a couple of storage buildings and in a barn than I will ever need. So in order to continue my hobby I have started restoring furniture for friends and family members and pretty much anyone who wants me to do something for them. I also let a neighbor sell some of the pieces at her store. We split the profits.

I still work a full-time job, but I would love to be able to make a living simply restoring and selling old furniture.

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