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How To Restore Antiques And Wood Used For Cabinet Making

Updated on December 7, 2014

Yellow Wood Tree

Giant Yellow Wood
Giant Yellow Wood | Source

Restoring Antique Furniture

Antique furniture were normally made from expensive wood, and depending in which country they were made, the manufacturer may have used oak, teak, yellow wood, stink wood, iron wood, mahogany, ebony and many more varieties.

Types Of Wood Used For Cabinet Making

Before the restoration tutorial a brief note about trees from which the wood for furniture was used.

Paul Sauer Bridge Over Storms River

Storms river Paul Sauer Bridge
Storms river Paul Sauer Bridge | Source

Yellow Wood

Yellow wood and stink wood was used in South Africa.Yellow wood in South Africa take many years to grow.

In the Tsitsikamma Forest, near Plettenberg Bay is a massive yellow wood tree, From a parking area on the side of the main road, near the Paul Sauer bridge over the Storms River, a boardwalk path leads hikers and people through the cool forest, green ferns growing on both sides, and dappled light coming through the thick canopy of the forest above, to a yellow wood tree. A plaque is nearby with information about this massive yellow wood tree.
Here you can you can see and behold one of the massive trees that once ruled the forest.This tree is between 600 and 800 years old, has a trunk circumference of 9 meter and stands 36,7 meter tall.
The forest boardwalk is well maintained and visitors can walk the 1 km round trip to the yellow wood tree in a few minutes, or more, if you stop to have a look and stare in awe at all the different varieties of fauna and flora. Two additional trails start from the main road through the forest for the younger hikers: one of 2,6 kilo meter and another of 4,2 kilo meter. Many flora and fauna can be seen here and even elephant.
Tsitsikamma is a Khoi word meaning “place of abundant water”.

Storm River Bridge Tsitsikamma

Oak Tree

Oak Tree
Oak Tree | Source

Oak Tree

An oak tree is a large deciduous tree up to 20-40 meter tall, it takes up to 150 years before an oak is ready to use for timber or furniture It has been a prized hardwood timber for thousands of years because it is one of the hardest and most durable of timbers.The fruit of the oak tree is called an acorn and eaten by many wild creatures including birds, mice and squirrels. In the bark of the tree tannin is found which has been used to tan leather .
Oak trees were imported to south Africa but unfortunately they can not be used for furniture, because in the South African environment they grow very fast, resulting in a porous texture.
The barrels that distillers use are made from oak wood imported from Europe to South Africa.

Stink Wood-Stinkhout

Stink Wood- Stinkhout image
Stink Wood- Stinkhout image | Source

Stink Wood ( Stinkhout )

Stink wood or Stinkhout as it is known in Afrikaans, grows in South Africa. It grows up to 30 meter tall, the wood is dark walnut or reddish brown to black with a very fine grain, and was used for furniture and cabinet making. It is now a protected tree.

Ebony Tree

The ebony tree has a fine dense grain dark brown to black in color and used for cabinet making and carvings

Restoring Old Antique Furniture

Restoration Of Furniture

The reason why old furniture is restored is because people tended to paint the beautiful wood with any color paint so that the furniture fitted in with their home décor, and if this paint is removed, the beautiful wood is discovered underneath.


The basics of restoration is to remove old paint, sand the surface and apply wood sealer,and if necessary repair.

Staining Wood

If paint is removed from furniture and it is found that the furniture was made from a cheaper wood, teak for example, it can be stained with a wood stain to the color of your choice.This must be done before the wood sealer is applied.

Items Required For Restoring Furniture

1: Wood glue

2: Drill and bits

3: Paint brush

4: Scraper

5: Paint remover

6: Steel wool

7: wood sealer

Step By Step Tutorial

Step 1:

Apply a layer of paint remover on the surface of the paint and give it time until the paint is soft and wrinkled.

Step 2:

Using a scraper gently push off the paint trying not to damage the wood surface.Repeat step one and two until all the paint is removed, and allow to dry.

Step 3:

Buff the surface with fine steel wool until a smooth finish is obtained.

Step 4:

Paint on wood sealer and allow to dry, then using a very fine steel wool, buff until a smooth finish is obtained.Repeat step 4 twice. Spraying the sealer on gives a much better finish.

Repairing Furniture

If the furniture legs are a bit loose it may require repairing. Take a drill bit the same size as the dowels that is inserted into the furniture and drill into the dowel. Remove the leg, apply wood glue and replace the leg into its original position. Apply wood glue into the drilled holes and knock in new dowels.The dowels must go in fairly tight. If necessary drill a larger hole and insert a bigger dowel.

Use a carpenter clamp, and clamp the leg until the glue has dried. When clamping glue will be forced out, use a wet sponge to wipe off excess glue.

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