Restore vintage furniture

Restoring vintage furniture offers you the satisfying task of refreshing a piece of old furniture. Although it is best to leave rare antique care to the professionals, more common pieces like this chest (seen here before the makeover) can benefit from a few DIY repairs.


Over the years, an old piece picks up many layers of wax polish. Even regular furniture polish leaves deposits on the surface that can mar the beauty beneath. As wax polish ages it changes from an almost clear shine to one that becomes opaque... dulling the surface and hiding the true beauty of the wood grain or veneer.

To remove built up layers of wax polish, use mineral turpentine and a soft cloth to repeatedly wipe over the finish. As you wipe away the old wax you should also remove any white rings or minor blemishes that are in the wax and not in the wood itself. More often than not, wiping down with mineral turpentine and a cloth is all that's needed to bring an old piece back to it's original glory.

With the built up wax removed it's time to touch up any small visible scratches. Touch up crayons are ideal for hiding small defects on the surface of wood. You can buy these at specialist woodworking suppliers, or online.

For cracks and chips there are a couple of products that can be used to fix up these problems. Small chips can be filled in with wood filler, while large missing pieces can be repaired with Alcolin QuikWood.

DIY Tip:
After wood filler or QuikWood has cured, sand to remove as much excess filler as possible.

The most important point to bear in mind is that both these products do not accept wood stain well and it is essential to buy the closest possible shade at the start.

Alcolin QuikWood is only sold in one colour, which cures to a medium tan. Only use the minimum amount possible to fill and fix chips and use a small artist's paintbrush to apply stain concetrate very lightly until a colour match is obtained.

To nourish and project your newly restored piece, rub down with Woodoc antique wax.