Furniture-Repair

A Beginner’s Guide to Common Workshop Materials for Furniture Repair and Restoration

Stains, sealers, fillers and finishes differ from one furniture repair project to another and may deteriorate over time. However, there are some basic repair and refinishing materials you should have in hand when it comes to repairing and restoring furniture.

From paint remover to adhesives, here are the most frequently used materials in furniture repairs and restoration:

Paint and Varnish Remover

The features of removers depend significantly on their price. Cheaper removers typically contain some wax and might be flammable, toxic and need to be removed with abrasives or scrapers. The more costly ones, on the other hand, are non-toxic and non-flammable. Some more expensive removers can even be removed with water.

You may also find other types of removers on the market, such as the gel and wipe-on, wipe-off removers, many of which are easy to use and non-caustic.

Sandpaper

Sandpaper is made of many types of substances, including both organic and inorganic materials. Examples of an organic form of sandpapers are the flint and garnet paper, cheaper papers which tend to wear down faster. Examples of inorganics or synthetics sandpaper include the silicon carbide papers and aluminium oxide papers, which are more expensive but can last longer. The aluminium oxide and silicon carbide papers are available in much finer frits than the garnet and flint papers.

Some professionally only utilise synthetic sandpapers while others go with the less costly organic sandpapers, especially the garnet paper, which they believe are sufficient for all their furniture repair and refinishing needs. Although you can use sandpaper theoretically for all steps of refinishing, you might prefer using sandpaper for more coarse work and use steel wool for fine work and stripping.

Abrasives

Various chemicals and milder abrasives have, in part, replaced sandpaper in furniture preparation and stripping for finishing. Many experts utilise sandpaper frequently. However, some professional refinishers never use it and instead, use abrasive powders and steel wool. 

Steel Wool

From medium to superfine grades, steel wool is primarily used to smoothen and remove finishes that the paint remover softens. It is especially helpful for delicate inlays or veneers where the surfaces are very thin and may be damaged by the sandpaper. Some professionals, however, feel that it gums up too fast and leaves behind too many steel particles.

Adhesives

When choosing adhesives in furniture repairs, key factors to consider are the strength and water-resistance. If the furniture will be exposed to water or used outdoors, then waterproof glue would be a better choice. However, if the furniture part being repaired is structural like a chair’s leg, pick a glue with higher strength.

Generally, the carpenter’s glue is sufficient for most repairs. Still, experiment with each type to find the best glue that fits your project and liking. Below are some types of adhesives used for furniture refinishing:

  • Polyvinyl acetate glue or white glue
  • Carpenters’ glue or aliphatic resin glue
  • Plastic resin glue
  • Hide glue
  • Resorcinol glue
  • Epoxy
  • Contact cement

Other Basic Materials

The following are some basic materials which are used less frequently, but are still vital for furniture repairs and restorations:

  • Painter’s tape or blue tape, which is used for a fine lining when applying finishes
  • Throwaway paint brushes where you buy cheap paint brushes to use and then throw them away after use
  • Paste wax that is available in various wood-tone colours
  • The fine black wire which can be used for many work, from clamping splits into rounds to rewiring furniture springs
  • Turpentine for thinning of some solvent-based finishes and finishing cleanup

Conclusion

Many materials play an important role when it comes to furniture repairs and restoration, including paint removers, adhesives and abrasives. There are also less-frequently used materials that are vital for such a project, such as blue tape and turpentine. Be sure to experiment with each type of these materials to see which one is the best for you and your project.

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