It is of great importance to know what the finish is. Not knowing would end up in damaging a perfectly good piece of antique furniture or wasting your time in the techniques that probably don’t work. When you decide the antique furniture restoration services; three things would be vital for you to know and that are the clear, basic or natural finishing, which are called shellac, lacquer & varnish. Usually you would come across the finishing like wax, oil or sealers. Easily identifiable by a simple touch; they can be restored only by reapplication.
Before you start any vintage furniture restoration work; you need to identify the finish. Take a test with denatured alcohol. The basic three finishes would be identifiable by rubbing a little alcohol on the finish area. If the finish dissolves, it is shellac. If it dissolves however partially; then it is probably blending of shellac & lacquer finish. To know if the finish is lacquer; try to test it with denatured alcohol & lacquer thinner. If it turns out rough & then smooth again; it is of lacquer finish. If it crinkles without giving smooth finish later on; it is confirmed to have varnish finish.
Once you are through with the identification of the finish; you are good to go for your antique furniture restoration. Regardless of the matter of dirt, discoloration or cracks; you will be able to restore your piece of antique with the help of following restoration techniques.
The simplest & easiest method of restoration is cleaning it could be the problem of dirt. Removing the dirt of decades with oil based commercial cleaner might be of great help here. Available in most of the furniture stores; these cleaners will be able to cut through the wax & dirt layers.
Keep in mind to consider the usage instruction provided by the manufacturers as excess use of the cleaners might damage the piece. Keep separate the clothes for cleaning with the solution & to wipe it off with the other piece of cloth. Repeat the process if required using cleaner until the wood is clean and looks lustrous. This might take repeated application up to 5 to 6 to get back the lustrous look. Remove the excess oil with buffing.
Sometimes; if the dirt & dust are rigid; the cleaners might not work. Water can cause white hazes on the furniture. When you think of French polishing in Melbourne the furniture is clean; wash it off with detergent & water & then thoroughly clean it with dry cloth. Solvent cleaner could be your last resort if nothing works for cleaning & restoration. Solvent cleaners could damage your antique furniture’s finishing. Hence, use it only when all other methods of cleaning have not worked for you. You would require a well-ventilated space to carry out the solvent cleaning task. Outdoor setting would be best. Apply the solvent with a cloth & wipe t off with another dry cloth. Once it is completely dry, apply the commercial conditioners & buff the wood gently. Apply one or two coats of varnish to get the old finish back on the piece.
Be careful not to use too much of water. Let the new finish dry for 8 to 10 days before you start using your furniture.