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Buffing Techniques

Purchasing pieces of furniture from estate sales is a great opportunity to buy quality furniture at a reasonable price. The challenge is deciphering if the piece itself is in good shape or not.
Woods like mahogany and cherry are often the most valuable and continue to gain value over the years. Look for pieces that are solid wood construction. If they are veneered, make sure they are veneer over solid wood which is an older manufacturing style and that the veneer is in good condition. You will want to find pieces that have dove-tailed joints. One of the easiest places to see this is by pulling out a drawer and looking where the sides of the drawer meet the front. Also look to the weight of the item, and the color and richness of the finish. Also look for high quality manufacturers like Henkel-Harris, Baker, Henredon, Kittinger and Biggs. Using these simple guidelines will allow you to make better purchases that could become either “heirloom” or “investment” pieces that you are more likely to hand off to your children.
Keeping these fine furniture pieces fresh and looking up to par is a simple exercise with long-lasting benefits. One of the simplest maintenance techniques is to wax and then buff the item. Buffing is an art in itself, with many different strokes, cloths, and techniques that give each piece an individual brilliance. The cloth that you choose is crucial, if you want the piece to be shiny, use a very soft buffer rag. In order to get a richer antique look, use a (slightly) rougher rag in order to dull down the wax. This is perfect for side tables and bookshelves, or other pieces that typically don’t get a lot of attention.

Selecting the right furniture to purchase at an estate sale can help furnish your home in a manner that helps your personality shine through and many items can become and accent or show piece.

This is a dove-tail joint constructed by cutting “tails” into the ends of each board and fitting them together. This technique is commonly used for the front of drawers in this era, but has been used in many centuries past.


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