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Collectibles-General (Antiques)/Refinishing a Cavalier Cedar Chest


Hello, I have a 1950's walnut Cavalier cedar chest. The top is scratched and the finish overall is very worn. I'd like to have it refinished. What should I look for when hiring someone to refinish it? Should the person specialize in antique furniture or cedar chests in particular? It was my grandmother's chest and has sentimental value. I'd like to make sure I am hiring someone who will do a good job, but I don't know what questions to ask them ?

Hi Mary
Nice to hear from you.
You are very wise to do some research before deciding who to choose to refinish your chest.
There are a lot of things going around in my head and hopefully I will get them all down.
These are the things I would ask if I was in your situation.
1..What will you use to replace the fisish? The proper answer is whatever the old finish is.
If he says "we like to use poly"
2..Next I would ask if he uses sandpaper on his antiques. If he says "yes we give the antiques a real sanding. Looks like new when we finish". Run.
The proper answer is "we may use sandpaper if there is any wood damage but strive to keep the woods lovely old patina".
While you are in the shop making inquiries, ask to see other work he does. Most craftsmen are proud to show you their work. If he makes
Ask how he plans to deal with the interior (the cedar lining). This is the only place that can be sanded well as it restores the lovely cedar smell.
Repairs..does your chest need repairs? Ask how he plans to make them.
Any reputable place that restores furniture can do your chest.
Get a firm quote in writing with a completion date. There should be no "we ran into problems and need to charge extra or the job took longer than we thought" Thats bull LOL.
You should be able to take your chest to be restored in confidence that it will be done right. Unfortunately thats not always the case. I have seen many lovely old pieces destroyed by the refinishers hand.
Very best of luck.
Write anytime

Collectibles-General (Antiques)

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Eileen Cronk


I can answer most questions about the repairing and refinishing of all your old furniture items (the things we call antiques). I can also give you advice on what wood items to choose and what wood items to avoid at auctions, flea markets etc. I DO NOT give appraisals on antiques as this is not my field of expertise.


I have been repairing, refinishing and of course buying old furniture for the past 30 years. On any given weekend I can be found at auction sales or flea markets searching out a good buy. I have taken several courses in this area over the years, but I find "Hands On" learning to be the best teacher. I can help you avoid the pitfalls and problems of this wonderful rewarding craft.

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