Clive Payne

Traditional Hand Finishing of Antique Furniture

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Traditional Hand Finishing

 

The History of Hand Finishing

For centuries furniture was finished using linseed oil. The grains on oak furniture were sometimes filled using linseed and dust. Today, 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. Beeswax was used to enhance the colour, over time this is built up and with the atmosphere of a particular pieces surrounding area together with its use a deep lustre and patina is achieved.

Liquid polish or shellac, a natural material which we buy in flakes, is then 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.

Around the beginning of the nineteenth-century French polishing was introduced, this was applied using a soft pad covered with a fine linin, the liquid shellac was applied into the pad and then rubbed over the surface in circular motion forcing the polish through the linin, once the polisher had achieved a satisfactory look the surface would be spirited off using a thinned down shellac and oil.

 

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.

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.

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