Finishing & Surface Polishing
From reviving or enhancing an existing finish to full grain filling, or repolishing and colour matching either a traditional oil, wax or shellac surface or a contemporary sprayed finish, I am able to offer all of these to a high standard.
The art of finishing fine furniture encompasses a vast array of skills, techniques and products. It is of utmost importance to understand the original surface of a piece as well as to appreciate the crucial patina of an item whether it has been crafted in the 18th Century or is a 20th Century collector’s piece. Without these considerations, an item of furniture can be very easily irreversibly ruined which could result in an unattractive overall look and also compromise the value of the item.
The required depth of understanding of original surfaces and the ability to successfully treat and sympathetically enhance them is not something that can simply be learnt from a book. It requires years of experience from working on all periods and qualities of furniture so as to be able to correctly read not only what can be conserved of the original but also ascertain how previous restoration attempts have impacted the condition of the item.
Once a full assessment of the current finish has been made then, and only then, can the appropriate tailored sequence of cleaning, reviving and polishing techniques be decided upon to suit each individual item.
Listed below are examples of finishing services that I have mastered over my many years’ experience.
Before any method of polishing can be applied, there are typically various initial process that are key to the perfect end result. These vary depending on the extent of the restoration that the item requires. From removing deep engrained stains to reversing severe damage from prolonged exposure to sunlight there are numerous techniques that can be called upon to remedy the issue.
There are various types and strengths of bleach that can applied during the restoration process, from oxalic acid to peroxide and super bleaches, and all have their place. They are either used to carefully remove dark stained areas, ink marks or engrained dirt or alternatively used to bleach down a newly repaired area so that it matches the original faded surface.
In certain circumstances the art of mixing and applying fine opaque pigmented colour is required to mask a unsightly blemish such as a burn mark or to remove the dark lines resulting from deep scratching. Pigments are also commonly applied in small amounts to aid the final blending of a newly repair area with its surrounding surface and wood grain.
The art of staining timbers and especially exotic veneers used within marquetry is age old. There are endless recipes and techniques that have been develop over time as well as more contemporary stains that are adopted when restoring 20th Century items. These range from chemical stains that have been used for centuries with the principle advantage that you can use them to alter the natural colouring dyes within the wood instead of adding a dye or earth pigment.
Traditional natural dye stains which produce beautiful clear colours and are mostly used when conserving 18th Century items due to their shortcoming of not being lightfast. Most commonly the traditional tones and colours produced from natural dye stains are replicated by blending synthetic water stain colours to result in a more permanent lightfast result.
Finishing / Surface Polishing
Traditional burnished wax finishing
I use numerous types of furniture waxes from home made hard burnishing waxes created from age old recipes I have collected, to thinner toned contemporary waxes designed to protect and enhance a pre-polished surface.
Oil based finishes
Natural oil finishes have be used in furniture making for centuries. From early country pieces to contemporary items oils such as linseed, tung and walnut have been adopted to enhance the grain and produce a long-lasting protective layer by soaking deep into the surface. Typically today I use these oils in many contemporary restoration projects such as Danish design items where a matt or satin sheen is required. They are also used when reproducing the deep lustre from a period 18th Century piece which is then highly burnished with a small amount of traditional hard wax to produce a higher sheen.
Commonly referred to as French polishing. This is a finish that has been comprehensibly used and in many cases badly applied over many years to huge swathes of furnishings and have at times earned the term “French Polishing” a poor reputation.
However the truth is that when used correctly a shellac finish will produce the most beautiful surface that enhances the grain of a wood to its best. To achieve the perfect shellac finish, with the grain of the wood filled. The process of applying numerous thinned coats of various types or blends of shellacs are hand applied and pulled over the surface so as to slowly build up the depth of finish.
With the correct drying / curing times allowed. Importantly the surface is regularly cut back by hand with fine carbide abrasive papers so as to result in a thin flourless flat finish. This is then smoothed and subtly matted with super fine wire wool and or pumice and then finally finished with a small amount of traditional burnished hard wax.
With a fully equipped professional spray booth I am able to produce and reproduce all the benefits of durable modern finishes. This is essential in the conservation, repair and restoration of 20th Century items of furniture as the majority have been spray finished with a range of different products since the technology was first introduced. I do my very best to replicate the correct product and finish so as to match what was originally applied. Typically the original finish would have been complete after application. However when recreating and refinishing a restoration project, I will hand finish the surface to give the item the correct texture and patina found in a piece that has seen years of careful use.
Services I provide...
25 years of experience working in fine antique furniture restoration...
I have restored thousands of items back to their best condition and have a reputation for outstanding quality. From my full equipped, secure and insured premises I provide a highly personalised service to all my clients.