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Antique Tables: Restore, but Don't Refinish

By Brett Freeman
Antique Tables: Restore, but Don't Refinish

One of the main contributors of value to antiques is the quality of the finish. As a result, furniture refinishing is the last thing you want to do if you have an antique table that has taken on a tired appearance in recent years.

It's an Antique: Let it Show its Age

Before considering antique furniture restoration, it's important to look through an historical lens. The nicks and scratches a table acquires over six or eight or ten decades of use are part of its story, and actually contribute to its value as an antique. Refinishing can erase those scars that give antiques their character. What you're left with isn't really an antique anymore: it's a new piece of furniture made out of old wood.

Antique Furniture Restoration: As Simple as One, Two

If you want to restore the luster of your antique table's original finish, start by giving it a thorough cleaning. There are a number of commercial cleaning and conditioning products that will do the job, but be sure to test the cleaner first on an inconspicuous part of the table to make sure it doesn't harm the finish. Once the table is clean and dry, a layer of wax can bring out the shine of the original finish and protect it from scratches. Use a high quality furniture wax in paste form. Apply the wax sparingly, let it dry, and then buff using a soft cotton cloth.

Once the table has been cleaned and waxed, maintain it by dusting it with a dry cloth once a week. Do not use furniture polish or spray cleaners. A new coat of wax should be applied about once a year, or whenever buffing can no longer bring a shine to the finish.

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