For a number of years, I have been detailing, repairing, and generally improving furniture pieces, because I resell furniture as one of my business ventures. Below are several tricks of the trade I have learned to redo furniture in your home. If you come across that older /antique/ or simply vintage piece of wooden furniture that has a multitude of scrapes, scratches or dings, one of the best products I have found to alleviate the situation, without refinishing the entire piece is to apply liberally a product called Liquid Gold. This product can be found at almost any hardware store, lumberyard, and many times in larger grocery stores. Liquid Gold comes as a spray on product or bulk liquid one quart cans. If you are only going to do a few pieces of furniture only every once in a while, then the spray can would probably service your needs. However if you plan to work on a lot of pieces or continually need this product, it is much more economical to buy your product in the quart size or larger canister. The product gives off a very pleasant cherry or almond odor which makes it easier to work with, and better to display after using in a home. A simple soft cloth can be used to wipe away excess spray, or to rub on the liquid form of this product. Simply pour a little bit of the liquid onto your rag and wipe directly on the affected area. Careful not to use too much of the oil , because it takes a while for it to dry up, and more product can leave a little stickiness to the surface. (Note:try a little of the Liquid Gold in a more inconspicuous spot to see it the desired finish is obtained.) Another product that has proven to be somewhat useful if Formby's Furniture Refinsher. This is a dissolve and dry reformed into a new finish type agent. The product actually melts the old finish into a liquid, stabilizes it and drys back into its original form without showing the original flaking,splitting, or cracking to the finish surface. I only use this product generally on smaller areas not an entire piece for several reasons. One reason is the simple cost of the product, the product normally comes in about a 1/2 quart size, and to do the job right can use up the entire can. This can depending on where you buy it can cost you up to twenty dollars a can. The other reason is that I have found the results may vary from surface to surface, or area to area. One side of a piece might finish out much lighter than another due to what that particular surface has been exposed to. A side which spent most of its life against the wall will have picked up less dirt, grime and/or exposure to light. This can cause various color variations from lighter to darker. Some people swear by the use of Old English. This product comes in varied shades of stain which can in many cases hide imperfections to the surfaces of the furniture. However especially on large areas, Old English does tend to leave a sticky residue which will attract dirt, and be harder to use on an everyday basis, especially on tables or chairs. In all cases be sure to allow at least 24 hours to completely allow the product used to dry. After drying, you should be able to apply polishes, or in some cases when using Old English or Formby's you can overlay with Liquid Gold. I must stress to only use any of these products in a less visible area at first to see what kind of results may be expected. By taking this simple step, you might avert having to go back and completely refinish the entire piece of furniture. In the future we will discuss various refinishing techniques and products available, but personally I try not to completely refinish any piece of furniture that does not really need it.
Now some people would refer to me as a bit crazy, but I beg to differ on their opinion by saying I am flat out nuts (at least at times). Another gem from my past begins about 18 years ago at an antique / flea market show I was doing in Kansas City. I was setting up my booth early on the morning of the show, and into my booth walks an individual whom I know but do not particularily care much about. His passion was collecting antique radios which at the time my own tastes ran parallel to his. In fact that is how I became to know of him. Now to let you understand what this particular man was about, a conversation with another friend of mine gave me the best description of this guy. His evaluation of the man was that he was the nicest guy you would ever meet until you did any business with him. In this case, if you ever tried to sell, buy or trade an antique radio with him, he would be just as happy to skin you alive and let the buzzards pick your bones than make a decent deal with you. Anyway getting back to the story, he comes into my booth early this morning, and begins looking at the radio related items I was displaying. He comes upon a crystal radio (1920's if not a bit earlier). I had just purchased this radio the previous day at a garage sale for 25 cents, but I knew the retail value to be around $125.00, so I priced the radio at $95.00 so it would sell quickly and pass on a bit of the good price. He turns to me and in his usual condescending tone, tells me that he would be willing to give me ten dollars for the radio. I politely refused, and started to move away when he grabs my arm and becomes insistent on me selling him this radio at his "offer". I again refused and tried to pull away. At this point he remarks in his snotty way "It is only worth 15 dollars at the most". Now normally I am a calm and easy going type of guy, but this individual just plain rubbed me wrong. I am getting angrier by the second as he continues to jabber on about what bad condition the radio was in, and how he was doing me a favor by offering as much as he did. I snatched the radio out of his hands, and began admonishing him. I told him if that was all it was worth, then ........and before I knew what I was doing, I threw the radio on the ground and stomped it flat. Picking up the smashed piece, I held it forth and told him that I would take his offer now. He stood there, with his mouth wide open (kind of like a fish gasping for air) and totally speechless for a few minutes. Finally he manages to to stammer out "I was going to buy that radio" and added "What do you think you are doing?" I grinned at him and told him it was my radio and I could do as I please, and would he kindly exit my display area. At this he turned and stomped out of the booth muttering to himself all the way. I do not really know what prompted my outburst, but one thing kept coming back to me, that was the best 25 cents I ever spent! Interesting sub note; In the years following the incident, whenever this guy walked into my booth, and wanted to buy anything, he always paid the marked price in full, never again to try and low ball me. Isn't life grand?!!