From complete repair and refinishing to preserving the object from future deterioration, the needs of the object and those of the owner are met in a thoughtful balance.
Antiques require special attention to be paid to preserve as much as possible when repairing damage, yet the act of using our furniture makes certain losses inevitable.
While wax, and resin finishes are available, John specializes in French polish, a shellac finish which is incomparable for its beauty and clarity. As importantly, it can be renewed almost indefinitely.
The most common repair in the studio is re-gluing loose chairs and repairing breaks. Out of all the furniture, chairs get the hardest use. Early chairs often exhibit multiple repairs from earlier repair attempts.
While complete upholstery is usually sent to qualified upholsterers, there are many times when the upholstery must be undone so a repair can be made and then put back on, preserving original material. Also, there are times when, in order to preserve the frame, other attachment techniques are required.
Desks with leather inserts are often so worn and faded that replacement is cheaper and better looking than a restoration. The shop has an assortment of brass rolls to emboss the leather either with gold or blind (blackened). Very little leather is kept in stock but is purchased to order.
Brass is often an integral part of furniture, from inlays to hinges to hardware. Frequently, there are losses and breakages that need to be repaired. While there are many sources of period-looking hardware, sometimes it is easier and conservative to repair a broken brass part as has been done on a few of the plates on this desk.
Conservation gilding is a better description of the work performed in the studio. All attempts are made to preserve as much original gilding as possible, in-painting with paint and/or gold leaf as is necessary to compensate losses in the gold and gesso.
A recent "marble" top. While the actual faux painting took less than an hour, the preparation of this panel required 3 coats of epoxy and 3 coats of oil-base primer, then sanded dead flat. As in all finishing, preparation is key.
Carved elements are almost as old as furniture itself and due to their decorative nature, they are often more fragile and prone to breakage and loss. The above photograph shows a copy of a shell made for a lowboy commission.
Furniture repair: Chairs, tables, desks, clocks, barometers, bookcases, bureaus, chest of drawers, commodes, shelves, tea caddies, objets d' art, picture frames, mirror frames, gilded frames. American furniture, English furniture, French furniture, Asian furniture. Urushi lacquerware and urushi lacquer.
Restoration, conservation, preservation. Gilding, inlaying, gluing, fabricating, turning, carving, soldering, upholstery, French polish, restoring finishes, refinishing, desk leather installation, tooling, waxing, polishing, making keys, faux finishing.
John Coffey works in Locust Valley, Long Island, New York, near Oyster Bay, near Glen Cove, near Glen Head, and near Sea Cliff. Call to make an appointment. 516.676.4216