Clive Payne

Traditional Hand Finishing of Antique Furniture

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Traditional Hand Finishing in Oxfordshire & Gloucestershire

Traditional hand finishing is not just a technique; it’s a devotion to authenticity. Each piece undergoes a journey of revival, steeped in time-honoured methods. Surfaces are gently smoothed, contours refined, and textures restored to their former glory. From delicate antique furniture to architectural treasures, every detail is tended to with reverence.

Our Traditional Hand Finishing Process

With traditional hand finishing, we are able to repair and revive original surfaces or sensitively refinish them. Watermarks, scratches and other surface damage can be removed to restore the original detailing. The traditional hand finishing of antiques requires expertise, knowledge of historical styles and finishes, and a deep understanding of woodworking techniques. Our skilled craftsmen aim to maintain the original character and patina of the piece while ensuring it is aesthetically pleasing and structurally sound for generations to come.

All hand finishing work is done by hand, using traditional methods and recipes to make our own unique wax using wax from local hives, and shellac polishes to finish every piece of furniture to the highest standard, we will only remove a surface if it has become so badly damaged or has had a modern varnish applied, the item will then be fully refinished using the traditional methods. If you see a piece that has what appears to be raised grain then this is, in fact, the oil and dust being forced out as the timbers shrink. We are able to repair and revive original surfaces or sensitively refinish them.

Member of the British Antique Furniture Restorers Association (BAFRA)

The British Antique Furniture Restorers’ Association (BAFRA) is a nationwide organisation of skilled people engaged in furniture conservation, furniture repair and furniture restoration. Every BAFRA member is an expert in their field and is actively involved in Continual Professional Development to keep abreast of advances in knowledge, skills and technical developments.

Over the years Clive has developed the highest of standards in traditional hand finishing in Oxfordshire and traditional hand finishing in Gloucestershire, joining the British Antique Furniture Restorers Association (BAFRA) in 1997 and now specialises in conserving and restoring oak and country furniture from the 15th to 18th centuries, together with all furniture from the early 18th to 19th centuries.

Traditional Hand Finishing FAQs

What is traditional hand finishing of antiques?
Traditional hand finishing for antiques involves using manual techniques and specialised skills to restore, enhance, or preserve the appearance and integrity of antique furniture. This process aims to maintain the historical and aesthetic value of the piece.
Why choose traditional hand finishing over modern methods for antiques?
Traditional hand finishing is chosen for antiques to preserve their authenticity and original character. It allows craftsmen to replicate historical techniques, colours, and finishes accurately, maintaining the unique charm and value of the antique.
What is the process of traditional hand finishing?
For centuries furniture was hand-finished using linseed oil. The grains on oak furniture were sometimes filled using linseed and dust. Liquid polish or shellac, a natural material which we buy in flakes, was dissolved in alcohol to make liquid shellac. This was applied to timber using a brush. Several coats would have been applied before being left to dry and cut back prior to wax finishing. Beeswax was used to enhance the colour, over time this is built up and with the atmosphere of a particular piece’s surrounding area together with its use a deep lustre and patina is achieved.
How do I determine if my antique needs hand finishing?
Consult with a qualified antique restoration expert at Clive Payne to assess the condition of your antique. We can provide recommendations based on the item’s age, condition, and historical significance.
What kind of finishes are commonly used in traditional hand finishing?
Common finishes include shellac, varnish, wax, and oil-based finishes. These finishes are carefully selected based on the era and style of the antique being restored, aiming to achieve an authentic look and feel.
What is the difference between traditional hand finishing and French polishing?
Around the beginning of the nineteenth-century French polishing was introduced, this was applied using a soft pad covered with fine linen, the liquid shellac was applied into the pad and then rubbed over the surface in a circular motion forcing the polish through the linen, once the polisher had achieved a satisfactory look the surface would be spirited off using a thinned down shellac and oil.
Can all antique pieces be hand-finished?
Most antique pieces, including furniture, wooden artefacts, and decorative items, can undergo hand finishing. However, the suitability of hand finishing depends on the item’s material, condition, and the extent of restoration or preservation required.
Why choose Clive Payne for traditional hand finishing?
Over the years Clive has developed the highest standards in traditional hand finishing and is a member of the British Antique Furniture Restorers Association (BAFRA). As a member of BAFRA, Clive Payne is fully accredited, works to the highest standards and ethics and has been rigorously assessed and vetted.

To discuss traditional hand finishing in Oxfordshire, traditional hand finishing in Gloucestershire, or any other aspect of an item of furniture that you might wish to bring back to its full glory please do not hesitate to contact me. All restoration work is done entirely by hand using traditional techniques.

Call 01608 658856 or click the button below to make an enquiry.

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