Restoration – The Process
The restoration process usually starts with the following two questions: How much will it cost, and is it worth it? Certainly fair questions, but hard to answer. Each piece is different and value is very subjective.
The real questions are, do I like it? Can I use it? And what does it mean to me? If the answer is yes, or it has sentimental value, we can then evaluate the piece and what it will take to answer the first two questions.
Price can be any number, depending on what the labor and material factor will be to bring the piece to completion.
Value of the piece has no relation to labor costs, but there are some general rules of thumb. For non-antique or heirloom furniture, a good guide is to spend up to 50% of equal quality replacement cost. If restoration exceeds that number, it may be time to replace or reevaluate the job scope. For antiques or heirloom furniture, there may be no way to replace that piece and price becomes less of an issue.
What to do first
Once you decide to restore a piece, you must put it into a condition that will allow you to start. That process is usually removal of the old finish. Tobin's uses all stripping methods and uses what is appropriate for each wood species. The most common is the recirculating flow-over wash tray, which washes off finish safely. The "dipping" myth continues, but the fact is that there is no magic tank that you just dunk it in. Stripping is hard work and is the basis for a good finish.
Sanding wood after stripping is a given. So is detailing the finish removal process. The more time and effort put into preparation, the better the end result. Our statistics show that 75% or more of the time required to restore a piece after stripping is spent on prep time. Nicks, gouges, scratches, and liquid damage all must be addressed in this operation.
Furniture repair is an art. A furniture repair craftsman must use a great deal of ingenuity and possess a fair amount of basic woodworking and cabinet making skill. This is one place in today's world where craftsmanship still counts. No one repair is ever the same.
From a simple re-glue to a rebuild, or a duplication, each job must be done right, and made to last. We use all the latest adhesives and techniques, but resourcefulness and experience make all the difference.
Disassembly & Assembly
Most pieces that are going to be stripped will require at least some disassembly. We disassemble at no extra charge. However, we do not reassemble unless we are doing a complete restoration.
The reason is simple—when you restore, you must start from scratch. It is not possible to do a good job unless backs, glass, mirrors, doors, etc. are removed. This is the only way to prep, stain and finish correctly. The assembly process is the final step in restoration.
If glass or mirrors get damaged or break when disassembling, they would be replaced at your cost—we assume no responsibility for broken glass or mirrors.
Staining by hand with high quality stains and hand-wiping gives unmatched clarity and brings out the natural wood grain. Proper application of stain and knowing how much grain to open and close can make or break a job before finish is ever applied.
Many factors create the wood tone and hue that make up the overall impression of color. Species, grain, age and lighting are some of the variables that affect your perception of color.
Custom finishing builds color from background to final shade in stages. Having an item that is the color you want to match against will bring the best results.
From paint to clear, to satin, to gloss or from flat to faux, it takes a special person to be a finisher. Why would anyone put on an absolutely perfect coat of finish only take about half of it off again, then do it again and again and again? Hand rubbed finishing creates depth and clarity, and brings out the true beauty of wood. There are few places left that still use the old ways.
There are only two reasons to finish wood: to protect it and to bring out the beauty.
Combining modern finishes with high solid content lacquers, shellacs, varnishs, and old-fashioned hard work, Tobin's can do it all. Very few manufacturers do hand rubbing. The ones that do are well-known and charge a premium for the quality finish. Because Tobin's does custom finishing, we can apply damage-resistant finishes and still use hand rubbing techniques.