Repairing, Restoring, Conserving mean...
- A table or chair needs to be repaired if a leg has come off. This may have been due to clumsy handling, a child’s accident, woodworm damage or a combination of causes. They may be relevant to the repair but one way or the other, the leg has to be put back and be as strong as before.
A chest of drawers may be difficult to use because the drawers are sticking, probably due to worn runners. They must be replaced.
These are two typical examples of Repairs. They are putting the pieces back in working order.
- Strictly this means putting a worn or damaged piece of furniture back into the condition or appearance it would have had when first made, perhaps up to two or three hundred years ago but, in practice, it is certainly not normal to strip off all the polish and patina which may have built up over the years.
Knowing and understanding the original methods of construction and the tools and materials used are important. Knowledge of wood joints, glues, stains and polishes is essential, if a piece is to be properly restored. These must be replicated so that the restoration is as authentic as possible. Only that way will the work be inconspicuous and the piece as good as new or possibly even better if after cleaning, the sheen from the patina really catches the eye.
- This means preserving the piece as it now appears, including its history perhaps over many years. So, if it shows signs of wear round the base, where it has been kicked or scuffed , it is better not to cut out and replace the damage, but rather to retain as much as possible of the original wood and just smooth the worn areas and restain and polish them. This will conserve the piece without altering its character or losing its history.
Patina built up over many years from a mixture of perhaps wood smoke, condensation, dust, and beeswax polish is the most precious quality and needs to be preserved, so if there are old black stains near an ink well, they should be left strictly alone. They are part of the history and to remove them would disturb the patina irretrievably.