I'm hoping to find someone who can either provide a new ratchet mechanism for
a drop arm sofa or some advice as to how to set about making a new one. The metal
multi position ratchet mechanism in the arm of my project is badly distorted and bits
are missing. I'm happy to turn it into something more simple (but the arm will still
have to go up and down). I've been stalled on this project for ages now and I could do
with some advice... can you help?
You could try contacting furniture makers who make drop arm sofas, see below.
Drop-arm sofas were popular from around 1860 to 1910.
The Odd Chair Company in Preston, (01772) 691777; occasionally has restored drop-arm
sofas priced and it can also make copies. A traditional upholstery company near
Harrogate, David South, (01423) 712022; makes the D'Arcy drop-arm sofa to order. Sofa
Workshop, (01798) 343400; offers the Courbet, a version of the Knole, with a low back and
These maybe able to supply a new mechanism or possibly advise you. Also try contacting light
engineering units that do welding etc. who maybe able to repair yours.
Possibly find another drop arm sofa in poor condition and take out the ratchet mechanism.
I.e. auctions, for sale adds, although bit of a long shot!
I had to drop you a line, what a fantastic site.
I have always wanted to learn how to polish furniture correctly. I lost my job so decided to give it a go, at about the same time I found your site.
I purchased a cheap piece of furniture to practice on. Following your instruction I made what I and others say is a good job. I have now moved on to a mahogany chest and again following your instruction this chest is also starting to look good.
My partner looked at your site, she to has taken a big interest but for her it is china, so we now have a battle for the computer.
Thank you for sharing your knowledge and giving up so much of your time to this site, we both have something enjoyable to focus on during these hard times.
I have just bought 2 Staffordshire flatback figures. They both have
green painted bases and one is a lady (hands joined in prayer,
flowing pink shawl, flowered dress) and a man (waving spotted
handkerchief over head with left hand, pink jacket)
The paint is in
fairly bad state with some missing and the lady has a cracked neck
they have no marks or painted titles and I am trying to find out who
they are. Any ideas greatly appreciated!
(They are also for sale if
you think they sound interesting to you)
The figures represent a pair of lovers, with the sailor waving goodbye
as he is due to set sail, with his girl praying he will return safely.
Unfortunately too much damage for me to consider purchasing, but thank you.
Country and area: South Africa
TextArea: Hi Adrian,
Thank you for a wonderful site. I have just started restoring some small pieces and take immense joy in doing it.
I've got an old occasional rosewood chair and was wondering if you could help me to identify what period it comes from and any other info. Can I email you a picture of it?
Thank you for your response. Please find attached the photo of the chair.
I must say the before and after photographs of items you restored are
I live in Johannesburg and unfortunately there aren't as many antique pieces as there are in UK, but nevertheless, I'm building up my own little
collection of antiques REPLY
Nice chair. From the Victorian period around 1860-80. The carving
and turning on the legs and back rail is very attractive. The chair is
probably part of a set of four or more chairs, perhaps originally,
would have included a Ladies and Gents chair as part of a salon set.
Looks more European than English, judging by the style.
Contact: jim franklin
Country and area: Australia
Is white spirit and turpentine the same thing.
No they are different.
Colourless liquid derived from petrol; it is used as a solvent and in paints and
varnishes. Good for cleaning away old dirt and wax deposits etc.
or wood turpentine, is an organic solvent derived from pine tree resin; it is a
traditional solvent used by artists and painters.
is the cheaper, mineral oil based replacement for turpentine. Used for thinning
decorating paints, oils and certain varnishes.
Contact: jim franklin
Country and area: Australia
TextArea: I am endeavouring to restore a walnut piano and 2 large cedar doors.
Could you please advise if you use raw or boiled linseed oil?
You are to be congratulated in compiling a truly magnificent web site
Thank you for for your kind and encouraging words. I'm glad you like the site.
I am continually updating it.
I always use Boiled linsed oil as it dries quicker than the "Raw" and it leaves a nice
natural sheen to the surface.
The Raw linseed oil is a natural nourishing treatment for wood which leaves no surface
coating and could be used on your doors, although the Boiled would also be fine.
Hope this helps you.
Form Type: General Information Request Form
TextArea: Dear AW,
What a great and informative site.
Thank you, thank you, thank you!
Just opened a small antiques, collectables, junk!! shop ( a new venture) and after finding you I am surrounded with waxes, revivers, restorers etc.
You have inspired me to try.
I have also enrolled on a short upholstery course in September; maybe restoration will be next.
Really wanted to say I think this is possibly the most helpful, realistic and informative site I have found on the Internet.
Thank you again, you should feel very proud of your site.
Country and area: Crewkerne, Somerset
Contact: Angela Reich
Country and area: USA, Connecticut
I have french polished several projects with success. Right now I am working on refreshing a table top. I have worked out several water rings and I thought the surface was finished in shellac, but after applying the oil and several coats of french polish, over the old finish, I have noticed cloudiness and swirls in the finish.
Is it possible that it sat in too cold of temperature or could it be that there is still
oil on the surface? I'm not getting the shine that I normally get. Could the old surface also be causing this to happen. I'm not sure how to proceed. Should I keep working the surface or does the whole table top need stripping? Any ideas would be helpful.
Thank you. Angela
A number of reasons could be causing your cloudiness. Firstly it is important to French
polish in a warm dust free area, as you apply the polish it will dry quite quickly as I
sure you know. So if it is cold and relatively damp, in the area you are working this
could cause problems.
Sometimes if you apply too much linseed oil to the surface this may cause you to have
problems also. I wouldn't use oil on the cleaned surface of the old finish before you
start French polishing, only nearer the end when you are bodying up.
( For more information CLICK on
Oil should be used sparingly.
If the original finish still had some wax on it after you cleaned it, that would also be
the reason. Using a piece of 0000 (very fine) steel wool while applying the white spirit( or Antique wax remover) to remove any dirt or wax before proceding is very important.
Solutions to get going again, could be to gently rub, in the direction of the grain, with
a piece of steel wool ( very fine) to see if this removes the cloundiness etc. If not
put some methylated spirits on a clean rubber and wipe in a long movement to remove some
of the new finish i.e one side of the table to the other. If you stop in the middle it
can stick and leave marks.
If all else fails you will have to remove the new surface and start again.
Hope this helps you.
Any problems you can contact me again.
Mrs Susan M. Sisk
TextArea: I believe I have a early 1900's ornament.My late mother used it to put a
pot of plants in.It was broken by her in 1922ish,and repaired but not very well.It
stands about 6inches and has two white birds perched on the back. It has a mark on
the bottom that looks like Hoor.Would it be worthwhile restoring? I can send you pictures if you wish. Thanks
Thank you for sending the photo's I have had a good look at them.
I would think that they are of a continetal manufacture, possible German. A great deal
of pottery and porcelain came from there in the late 19th and early 20thC.
To be honest with you, I would suggest against having it repaired as it is extensively
damaged and the repair costs would greatly out strip the value of the ornament and would
not be worth it.
I would just enjoy it for the memories.
Adrian, can you help me, my husband is a master carpenter and has made some shelving
units for a client using Marku (cheaper than teak), he has covered the whole unit with
danish oil and let it soak in did two layers only to discover it will not dry and is
sticky what can we do the units made with this wood cost over 300 pounds just for the
wood alone we would appreciate you advice as soon as possible as the job is very
urgent. Many thanks, sandra
You haven't said how long you have a had the oil on the wood it should take around 24
hours to be dry.
The wood must be free from any grease or wax, was it new wood without any finish?
If it won't lose any of it's stickiness after buffing with a clean lint free cloth then
try a test area with a lint free cloth soaked but not dripping in white spirit and gently
apply to the wood to dilute it slighty and leave to dry. Then buff up with a clean cloth.
You can also gently rub with steel wool in the direction of the grain to remove any
surplus oil. Maybe too much oil was applied and has saturated the wood. Wiping with
white spirit will help to reduce this. I'm sure it will dry unless it has a wax or grease
It will take longer if the wood is in a cold enviroment, it needs to be in a warm one.
I do hope this helps you. Please let me know how you get on. I check my emails
Dear Adrian, thank you so very much for your very prompt reply, (the wood by the way was Aruko not Maruku), it was applied at least 3 days ago, has been bought into our house warm environement and is still not dry, my husband will use the white spirit on a small area (one can of danish oil was a year old, this is the one that is causing problems even though it was weel mixed) the second can that was used in some parts of the unit (it is a very large unit) has dried successfuly I will let you know the results...
Once again I really appreciate your help, my husband was really worried that he might have to scrap the unit (lots of man hours and huge cost of this wood).
Kind regards, what a great person u are to help out. Sandra
I have got a set of furniture, which came without castors. I believe I can use the same as you show in your photo of two Edwardian chairs. I have not succeeded to find similar here in Denmark, so I would be happy if you could tell where to get them or eventually provide them yourself.
It is a set of four chairs and a sofa from appr. 1880. It looks as the legs has been cut shorter and then cut off the castors.
Anne Nyholm DENMARK
I have forwarded an E/mail showing the kind of castor you will need for your furniture. If you go to my site Restoration Tools Materials There you will see www.screwfix.com click on that to take you to the page you require. When typing in 'castors' quote 17571. They only deliver in the UK so if you have friends etc here, they could then post to you.
All you would have to do to fit them, is drill a hole in the centre of the leg, slightly smaller than the screw on the castor and screw in.
If you require any other materials etc. click on
bourneupholstery.co.uk which is on the same page as www.screwfix.com
If you have any problems please let me know.
I have just completed a course in conservation and restoring of oil paintings in Florence. However, now that I am residing in Scotland, I would naturally wish to pursue this career over here.
However, I have one major problem regarding purchasing restoration materials such as solvent, etc. At the moment I am unable to know where to buy tempera paints in tubes. The ones that I was using were 'Tiepolo tempera paints'.
I cannot use tempera paints that have egg in them, as it will be impossible for the pigments to be revered - which is essential in restoration. Please can you contact me as soon as possible - regarding this problem?
Sheila Bertolino SCOTLAND
Thank you for your enquiry. I think the best thing I can do to advise you, is for you to contact these Companys in London. They do sell tempera paints which contain egg but may stock the paints you are looking for plus all the other restoring materials.
Cornelissen & Sons have a website you can search on www.cornelissen.com
L. Cornelissen & Sons,
105 Great Russell Street, London WCI.
Store and world-wide mail order.
On line price lists available.
A P Fitzpatrick
142 Cambridge Heath Road,
London E1 5QJ
Tel 0171 790 0884
Stocks Kremer pigments plus limited stock of rarer pigments.
Store. Catalogue available.
Visitors and mail order.
Best of luck, do let me know if I can help you further.
Regards Adrian (aw antiques)
CHAISE FOR RE-UPHOLSTERING
I have a chaise (probably Victorian), but would be interested to show it to you and for you to quote for re-upholstering.
In addition, I have relatively recently moved home and need sofas and occasional chairs. Before buying new, I am researching the possibility of buying antique and reconditioning.You can call me on the numbers attached.
Elin Berkshire ENGLAND
RE-PLACEMENT CHAIR LEGS
I've just finished re-upholstering a circa 1930s wingback chair. The front legs (clawfoot) are split, scratched, and chipped and really need replacing. I'm looking for any insight into where I might locate parts for old chairs like this or a woodright who might custom make them.
Earl Hunt USA
Thank you for your enquiry.
I would always suggest trying to repair the original legs if you can on an antique piece of furniture, if possible. This keeps it's originality.
It may be that you could carefully open the split in the leg and inject some stong wood glue into it and then clamp tight until completely dry. The scratches can be cleaned up by rubbing down with fine steel wool, then wiping over with linseed oil. This will nourish the wood and prevent further splitting.
I am guessing you are in the States, so am enclosing 3 websites that should help you to get replacement legs, if the above is not viable.
I am going to start putting up on my site, other peoples renovations. If you would like to send me a photo and small write up I will do this.
I have a carved wooden 3-piece suite that consists of 2 corner chairs & a 2-seater sofa.
I's been in a garage for 30-35 years and is part stripped.
IT HAS EXTENSIVE WOODWORM - what can be done??
I'm in Reading ENGLAND
Thanks for your enquiry.
It's fairly straight forward to treat woodworm by using a liquid called
Rentokil Woodworm Treatment. It can be purchased in places like B&Q and the
like. It comes in a small can and should be injected in the worm holes and spread over any infected areas.
Before you do that it is best to tap around the area that's wormed, if a fine
dust falls out then it is still active and shows the holes are not old ones.
In this case the wood will need a thorough treatment.
Check that the joints are sound also any wooden parts concealed underneath. If
these have been badly damaged it could be expensive to put right unless you do
it yourself which is time consuming.
If you feel it's worth restoring after the checks, make sure you treat the wood
a number of times to kill off any grubs and keep away from any other furniture
as it will spread until treatment has finished.
Afterwards you can fill the holes that show, with a plastic wood filler of the
same colour. Have a look on the website under www.screwfix.com for buying your materials.
If you can send me a photo of the furniture I maybe able to help you further.
I sent you some photos on the 13th of April. Did you receive them okay? Would be interested in your thoughts.
Something else you maybe able to help me with. The pine I purchased for the "leaf" - I collected it 2-3 hours after it was milled to my measurements - 42" x 22" x 3/4". There was some moisture in the air and it was slightly bowed. After and hour drive home, it was more so. I have laid it flat with a couple of boxes of wine on top to counteract the bow - is this okay, or should I be doing something else altogether? I will not be ready for this piece for at least another week or two.
Appreciate your thoughts.
I recently purchased a Staffordshire figure that I have tentatively identified as
Harding Book 3 Figure 2358A
I bought it for $3.99 at a local thrift store in Minnesota, USA.
It has a chipped hat but the rest is very well painted and in great shape. Is this piece worth anything? And would it be worth fixing the small chip?
Thank you in advance for any advice you might offer.
Thank you for your help with my Staffordshire figure. (I can call it that now!) You were correct that this has given me the bug to start collecting these. I have been doing a lot of reading on the subject and found these figures to be quite interesting.
I'll definitely be on the lookout for more!
Chris Black St. Paul, MN USA
I have inherited a part restored chaise lounge I am able to cover
it but don't know how to respring the reclining top part. The bottom is
springed and I have the original springs for the top. Can you give me any
advice or point me in the right direction? I have had quotes for doing it an at the moment they are too expensive.
Thank you for your enquiry. Re-springing the back is much the same as
springing the base or a seat. It is most important that when you redo the webbing to make sure you get it as taught as possible, so that when you tack it down it will "ping" when you tap it.
Sewing on the springs is fairly straightforward but you need to
follow a pattern when positioning them. If you have all the original ones you will know how many to replace so that they are spaced evenly.
My advice is to buy new ones, as the old ones could be too weak to use again.
They are quite cheap to buy!
Rather than me trying to talk you through step by step it would be better if you bought a book or borrowed one from the library so that you could follow the directions, as they normally come with diagrams. Sometimes large garden centres sell these books at discounted prices which quite often have titles like "Care and repair of furniture" or "Restoring upholstered furniture" they are very useful and will help you a lot.
For buying springs and webbing etc. if you are unable to get them where you are, go to these sites to buy on line.
Best of luck. Let me know if I can help you further.
Adrian. aw antiques
Just a line to say thanks for your help and advice and the speed at which you replied.
Regards Sue. ENGLAND
I wonder if you can help. I would like to go on a short antique course i.e. 3 days or one week in November in the UK.
I live in surrey and am very interested in the restoration of furniture. Do you offer any courses like this?
I look forward to hearing from you
Thank you for your enquiry with regards to joining a short antique course.
My advice would be to visit West Dean College, a wonderful place to learn your
subject. They do many short courses in antique restoration, 3 to 5 days.
Why not visit www.westdean.org.uk or go to my website
www.aw-antiques-collectibles.co.uk/resources.php where you can read about it and then click on the link available.
The college is not far from Surrey just 6 miles north of Chichester West Sussex.
Local further education colleges do limited courses, but westdean is the best one for you if you can make it.
Let me know how you get on, and if you need further advice.
Look, I know I have such a cheek - but we have a couple of chairs on which some joints have become very loose. My husband knows how to clean and re-glue these. However, the chairs are rounded arm (full semi circular tops with lovely fret-work "pillars" from the seat to the top of the "arm".
Some of these joints are not loose. We need to loosen the whole lot to do a good job. HOW DO WE LOOSEN THE JOINTS, WHICH ARE STILL TIGHT?
I know I've a cheek asking for your advice, rather than purchase your services to do the job - but would you be willing to give us the benefit of your knowledge? Thanking you very much indeed in anticipation.
Thanks for your enquiry.
I don't consider it a cheek, I am only too happy to help if I can. I get asked many questions on restoration. It is my intention to build this into a website that people like yourself can refer to whenever necessary as I continue to put up more information.
To loosen the other glued joints use a wooden mallet or soft hammer covered in an old sock or thick cloth, so as not to bruise the wood. Carefully, tap the wood that is attached to the spindles so knocking the joints apart. Usually if some have already come lose, it suggests the glue has become dry and brittle and with a little persuasion the others will as well.
After releasing them, chip off all the old glue in the holes and around the spindles, rough up the wood at the ends with sandpaper and re-glue.
DROP ARM SETTEE
I have recently bought a two-seater settee with a drop arm. Could you please tell me if there is an art to dropping the arm? I can't seem to do it! The settee has a knob on the side. I have tried pulling this but it just came out in my hand. Thank you for any help you can give me.
Thank you for your enquiry. Old drop arm settees generally would operate on a metal ratchet. Pulling the knob should disengage this enabling the arm to drop.
I would suggest that the ratchet has ceased up or even rusted, hence the knob pulling away.
The best thing to do would be to carefully undo some of the upholstery and have a look at what's underneath, to repair it.
Adrian AW Antiques
From northern ireland, Armagh City
I have what i presume is a trinket box in cut glass the top is
shaped into a fish and the word france is on the base a friend told me that it is lalique. how can i confirm this.it is a petiete piece in clear glass of course the fish is frosty looking. sheila.
Thanks for your enquiry.
Most Lalique pieces had a signature, does yours have one? Could be anywhere on the piece!
You could send me some photo's showing marks etc. also see my page on lalique and click on www.aw-antiques-collectibles.co.uk/collecting-lalique-glass.php
and go to www.deco1925.com/ (If you haven't done so already). This will give signatures and info that might help.
You say it has the word France on the base, that suggests that it could be late 19th early 20thC, as it was changed to "Made in France" shortly afterwards.
If all else fails take it to a reputable auction room and get the auctioneer to value it for you.
Look forward to your reply.
Adrian (aw antiques)
im wondering if you can help me,i put a gents walking cane/sword on ebay to sell but they removed after 3 days saying it was illegal as its classed as a concealled weapon.
It was only the other week i saw one being sold on the BBCs "flog it" so where is the best place to put this item up for sale.
Yes, I saw that as well!
No problem if you go to a reputable auction room near by.They will value and sell it for you.
Dont forget, you will be charged a sellers commision, about 10-15%.
Adrian aw antiques.
From Warrenpoint, Northern Ireland
I have seven oak framed victorian chairs which are missing their front castors. I note your restoration includes reproduction stone castors but I cannot locate any.
Where do you source yours, and what is the cost? Many thanks.
Go to my web page-:
Click on Screwfix Direct, type in search box, "castors" on that site. They sell brass castors suitable for your chairs £44.99 per 10. product code (17571)
Hope this helps.
REPLACING DRAWER HANDLES
I would like to say how impressed I am with your website. Please may I ask your advice?. I have an old chest of drawers with original large round porcelain handles, 2 long deep drawers and 2 smaller ones at the top.
My main concern is the porcelain handles. Some are loose and some off the drawers completely. They have screws in the centre to attatch them and molten lead? seems to have been poured in to hold the screws in place then the whole handle screws into the hole in the wood. They no longer screw in and I would like to replace and restore the handles but am not sure how to go about restoring and attatching them.
Please could you advise me?
I would really appreciate any advice you can give me.
Thank you very much for your help.
Dear Mrs Cleare,
Thank you for your enquiry. I am glad you like my website, I am continualy putting up new information.
Is the chest of drawers made of pine? Quite often the handles would have been changed anyway as fashions etc. changed. If you wish to replace them they are fairly easy to get, sometimes antique fairs sell them.
If you look inside the drawers you may see holes where the different handles have been screwed in. You may also see a round plug of wood in the centre of the drawer inside which would have been where a wooden bun handle had been secured.
I would suggest that you fill the holes where the handles have become loose. Buy some doweling ( round lengths of wood about 1/4" dia.or what ever the hole Dia. has become, get them from B&Q or similar. They usually come in 2 metre lengths.
Drill a hole of same Dia.as dowel, in the drawer front where the handle has been. Cut the dowel to the thickness of the drawer front and tap in until flush.
You can glue it as well to be sure it doesn't come out. Then you are able to screw the handles back in.
Make sure you drill a hole into the dowel (when the glue has dried) one size smaller than the thread on the handle, otherwise the wood will split.
I hope this helps you, please let me know if I have missed anything or you wish to ask further questions.
Is it necessary or desireable to apply a shellac finish to natural rush seats?
Natural rush seating is attractive and hard wearing. No need to shellac, will improve with time.
I will be putting up more of your questions as I receive them. If you would like advice or have a question to ask you can E/mail at this address and I will be happy to give advice where I can.