Restoration – How Hard Can It Be?

Furniture Restoration Book

So, during my time researching new careers I hit upon Furniture Restoration.


It doesn’t require a 3 year degree – tick
It doesn’t cost 9 grand a year to study it – tick
It doesn’t involve working with computers – tick
I really love working with wood – tick
I love old furniture – tick
Maybe I’ll get to use a lathe – tick tick tick…
So I signed myself up on a London Met University short course in Furniture Restoration. (Cass Short Courses) I bought myself a book about furniture restoration and I bought myself some projects to work on during my course.
I became somewhat of an ebay addict in the process… discovering I have quite a penchant for Japanese Meiji Period lacquered and parquetry mini cabinets and jewellery boxes and music boxes.
Furniture for Restoration

I have read quite a lot of my book now, and I am half way through my 10 week course and I have learned a lot. Although I have also learnt how much there is to know and how little I currently know. The gap between where I am now and where I would need to be to do Furniture Restoration professionally is wide and deep!

On day one of our course I discovered that our teacher has been doing this for 6 years and prior to that was a cabinet maker for many many years, and he is still learning.

I’m starting to realise there is no quick road to travel from computer boffin to career changing hands on fulfilling work. But I am having a lot of fun learning about restoring beautiful old pieces of furniture. I’m very much enjoying immersing myself in a woodworking studio for 3 hours every Wednesday night and working with tools and wood rather than computers and bits of paper.

I come home each night with my hands blackened and sore and I am building up an impressive collection of cuts and bruises too. Last week I managed to hit my thumb with a claw hammer instead of the leather punch I was aiming for to punch out a small circle from some copper sheet. I was trying to look nonchalant – as if it didn’t really hurt like buggery but it was tricky to pull off when I noticed I was dripping blood everywhere…

My favourite piece is this little Japanese Parquetry mini cabinet that I bought on ebay for £60 – probably far too much to pay for something that was pretty damaged and not terribly fashionable at the moment. But I love it. It had a door hanging off its hinges, and is missing a side handle and a back piece of it’s bottom trim, and it had a big split up the back. I have now cut and planed it a new back piece, and patched up the split up the back and have waxed and polished it up… is still a work in progress but is definitely getting better.

I’m also creating a new door for this bigger box that has it’s door missing and a few pieces of parquetry tiles missing and a stuck draw with a missing handle.


My third project is an old tea caddy that needs a new side handle and cleaning up and reglueing here and there…


It’s still got its original velvet lining and foil lining in the tea holders and it has it’s original glass mixing bowl – it’s a little bit chipped but all in all not bad for it’s age.

I’ll keep you posted as to my progress. Next step is to try and carry into London one of 6 dining chairs I bought on Ebay for repair and re-upholstering… quite how I am going to carry one all the way to Commercial Road to my evening class I am not too sure… but if I can do it… I am sure I will learn a lot.

And so, in answer to the title of this blog… how hard can it be?

The answer my friends is… quite hard indeed. But very enjoyable and rewarding.


One thought on “Restoration – How Hard Can It Be?

  1. Pingback: Furniture Restoration Update – and your help needed! | How Hard Can it Be?

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