Looking at a damaged chair, you are much like a doctor in his office with a patient, lie makes an examination, then diagnoses the problem. Then he prescribes a course of medicine, hospitalization, diet — whatever he believes will bring about a cure.
As a furniture doctor, your first step, too. is a detailed examination. Look first at all parts to find cracks, broken wood, loose joints, and broken or missing hardware. Do the casters work, and do they fit properly, or do they fall from their holes? Is there severe denting or gouging, particularly at edges or corners? If the piece is veneered, has the veneer lifted from the substrate wood in any place? Are pieces or chips of veneer missing? Look closely at edges and corners for veneer damage.
If there are carvings (chair backs, dresser and chest fronts or elsewhere), arc the carvings intact or damaged? Pull out the drawers and examine them for tightness of joints, missing glue blocks, missing sides, backs or bottoms.
Garage sales are good sources for old furniture, but some of the pieces require a lot of work. This rocker needs an arm repaired and caning redone, as well as simple restoration.
A well-stocked home center will carry special ¡zed items, such as preformed dowels
Look. too. Ibr signs of old repairs. Have pieces been nailed or screwed into place? Can you see old cracks that were carelessly glued? Examine the legs, especially thin legs, to look for signs of split wood. Look at flat surfaces such as table and dresser tops for evidence of splitting or warping. Check all hinges to see if they have been bent or sprung.
Finally, look at the finish. Does it appear to be in reasonably good shape, or can you see so much damage that a complete refinishing is necessary? You can't really make a final decision on the finish until you have cleaned off all the old accumulated wax and dirt, but if a considerable amount of damage to the finish is plainly visible before cleaning, you can assume you have a problem.
If the damage is extensive, it is a good idea to make a written list because it is easier to establish work priorities from the list than from your head.
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