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Furniture Repair, Refinishing, Restoration, Upholstery and Caning

We’ve been serving Baltimore City and Baltimore County Maryland for more than 45 years. Now we’ve expanded into Harford and Cecil Counties Maryland, York County in Pennsylvania and Northern Virginia. We work on furniture from all eras using traditional techniques and materials. Below is a full description of our furniture services but if you’re short on time, here’s a quick list:

Restoration

Antique restoration is serious business

Most antiques are worth money and their value increases over time, no matter what’s happening on wall street.  Old world workmanship is timeless, and for the most part -at least when it comes to furniture construction – that
timeless workmanship doesn’t exist anymore.  So, in a way, every antique is a collector’s item.  It’s important to know that the nicks and scratches in that early 20th century secretary help to make the value what it is.  Antiques are old and every mark in the wood becomes a part of their history,  a part of the story they tell of where they’ve
been and who has sat in or written on them.  If your furniture’s finish is highly worn and the piece no longer looks way it once did, perhaps the time has come to restore it.

Antique Rosewood Dressing Table Before Restoration

This is an 1800’s dressing table made almost entirely of rosewood and is a very high value antique. It has suffered years of neglect.

Dressing Table After

The result of a full, ground-up restoration is astounding. Our expertise is in high value antiques, and this is an example of our workmanship.

“Restoration” and “Refinishing” are two completely different things

When you take an antique which has decades, maybe even centuries of history worn into it’s wood and refinish it, you are essentially erasing it’s stories and everything that makes it special and of value.  A bench top that has marks from a cowboy’s boot spurs while he was kicking back in a saloon in 1849, or a drink mark on a secretary from a thirsty author, are characteristics that make the piece unique and this history must not be
erased while freshening up the look of the furniture.
Refinishing removes all of the existing finish, essentially stripping the wood to it’s grain.  It’s common practice to sand out any marks or imperfections until perfectly smooth wood is attained.  Next, stain is applied and finally, shellac or lacquer is used to finish the piece.  “Restoration” is different.  When restoring an antique, the original finish, and everything beneath it, is untouched.  The surface is cleaned and prepped.  If it’s necessary to add stain or do any color touch ups or blending, it’s done on top of the old finish.  Finally, a brand new finish is applied and generally built up in layers to fill in any low spots in the existing finish.  Again, shellac or lacquer is used but in the case of restoration, the story and historical tales of this piece of furniture are left, safely sealed beneath the previous finish.  Finish restored, history preserved.

Repairs

Furniture repair that’s strong and lasting

Repairing a broken Duncan Phyfe table leg

Repairing a broken Duncan Phyfe table leg

There’s a right way and a wrong way to repair antiques and, if we had to use one word to describe what we do best, one word to convey what’s most important, and what determines the difference between first and second place, that word is workmanship. In the age of machines and manufacturing plants, costs and profits have eroded the word “workmanship” to the point that it’s all but disappeared. It’s a shame too, because furniture made by artisan woodworkers was made by hand and to a standard that no longer exists.  Because it was always made of solid wood, it is stronger and repairable.  If a twenty dollar particle board table is chipped on the edge, all you can do is throw it in the garbage. Antiques are different.

Workmanship, knowledge and skill are necessary

There are an endless number of ways a furniture piece can become damaged and just as many ways to fix that damage.  There are some people out there who will call themselves “antique professionals”, when all they have in their bag is a wax crayon.  They rub it over a gouge, smudge it around a bit and pass it off as repaired.  The result may look good, until you wipe it with a rag and the wax comes off.

The Lauers make furniture damage go away permanently

We don’t have a “one size fits all” approach to furniture repair, especially not when we’re dealing with antiques.  We repair all different types of damage big or small and when we’re finished, it’s actually repaired, not just disguised.  If you have antique furniture which needs repairs and demands the highest level of workmanship and attention to detail, call us.  We handle everything from touch ups to extremely involved fabrication for furniture which is missing pieces(a dresser leg, drawer, molding, etc) which can’t just be glued back on, and certainly can’t be repaired with a wax crayon.

Refinishing

Refinishing furniture makes it look brand new again

Half Refinished Table

Half refinished table illustrates the potential beauty a piece of old furniture may have

Ever seen old wood floors completely refinished?  What a difference it can make to the look of a room.  Furniture is no different than flooring when it comes to beauty potential.  When we refinish a piece of furniture, we begin by stripping all of the old finish or paint.  Next, the wood is sanded to absolute perfection.  At this point, the piece an be stained in the shade preferred to complement the room where it will be placed.  After staining, lacquer finish will be sprayed on in multiple coats.  The finished product may simply amaze you.  That’s one of the unique characteristics of wood.  It can always be sanded down to a layer that has never seen light.  A perfect marriage of grain and fiber, just waiting for the richness of color and a protective finish.

Caning & Rushing

Caning and Rushing are an art form of their own

roll of cane

A roll of cane

Caning is the process of weaving a vine material into a strong pattern.  The picture to the right is an example of the cane material.  There are all sorts of caning patterns used in chairs, stools, ottomans and other furniture. Caning demands patience and an eye for symmetry.  We have all the skills necessary to perform a flawless repair to your caned furniture pieces.

Nana Gail Lauer caning a chair

Gail canes a chair prior restoration

Here, Gail is working on a chair which needs to be caned and have its finish restored.  This is a fairly small caning job but will still take hours of slow, concentrated workmanship.  One of the most important things when performing work like this is the attention to detail.  There’s a huge difference between excellence and mediocrity when you’re re-caning furniture, especially when it’s a seat bottom.

fully restored and caned chair

The fully restored and caned chair

The real prize is in the finished product. This chair has been refinished and has a brand new woven seat bottom. The original workmanship is exceptional, as is the restoring work performed.

Rushing is very similar to caning.  You will find the rushing technique used interchangeably with caning and for the same purposes.  Many seat bottoms and foot stools are rushed and the main difference is in the material used in the process.  Rushing is an early American style which uses a soft, straw-like material which is then woven into the chosen pattern.  Again, the attention to detail is extremely important as these weaves must be beautiful and strong.

Example of Rush bottom chairs

Example of Rush bottom chairs

Lauer Furniture Restoration has the caning and rushing experience to deliver an amazing finished product every time. As with all our other services, we promise you’ll find nothing but excellence in our work.

Upholstery

Keep the value. Change the look.

antique chair before reupholstering

From old…

antique chair reupholstered

…To new!

One of the greatest things about upholstered antique furniture is that if you need to change its look to match a new room or rug, you can do so without sacrificing the value. As enthusiasts of antique furniture, we’d never sell a piece because it didn’t fit a room. We’ve been refining our upholstery skills for years and are able to reupholster almost any piece with almost any fabric.
This chair was perfect in its home until the owner remodeled a portion of the home. With the new look, this piece didn’t fit in anywhere, so we were hired to give it a new look. The owner sifted through fabric swatches until settling on the perfect design. In addition to replacing the fabric, the batting and stitch design was updated and a minor restoration on the wood finish was performed. This piece has been reborn with a completely new look while maintaining its original value and quality workmanship. Because our workmanship is exemplary and there are no jobs we can’t handle, Lauer Furniture Restoration has been trusted to reupholster some of the most valuable pieces.
If you or someone you know has an upholstered antique that requires a new look and delicate touch, we’d be honored to take the project.

Painted Pieces

Update your furniture with color!

Do you have a piece of furniture that ‘fits’ the room perfectly but it just doesn’t match?  Sometimes, traditional antique brown and red wood tones might not fulfill the cohesive needs of your room – that’s where color comes in.  We can give you a solid, or distressed look in a color palette to match your decor.  We use oil and chalk based paints to achieve a high end, durable and permanent finish.

Sideboard

We modified this solid cherry sideboard to better fit the customers’ room.

Modified Sideboard

Not only did we paint it, if you look, you’ll notice we added grates to the door faces

Missing parts

Missing furniture parts crafted so precisely, no one will know the difference!

If you think your antique family heirloom is doomed because it’s missing a leg, drawer, etc… you’re about to become pleasantly surprised.  We re-create -from scratch- missing pieces of your furniture.  As long as we have an idea of what it looked like, we can make it.  As a matter of fact, we reproduce missing pieces of furniture all the time!  Have a look at this early 1900’s barrister book case.

Barrister Book Case

Can you spot the “fake”?

You’ll notice that it has (4) doors in the front.  After a move, it seems one of the doors went missing.  The good news is, we saved the day by making a brand new door, but it didn’t look new – and that’s where it gets complicated.  Reproducing old furniture parts means making them in such a way that they look old too. This book case was constructed of mature, quarter-sawn oak.  So, that’s exactly what we made the missing door from.

Barrister Door

Here’s a hint – it’s one of these.

There’s a reason you can’t discern the reproduction door from the originals, and that reason is workmanship.  When we craft old parts, we use the same techniques and materials which were used by the original cabinet makers.  Afterwords, the finish is matched exactly, leaving you with a true replica – not just a new piece that mostly matches.

Pet Damage


Think your pets have destroyed your furniture beyond repair? Nope. We reverse animal damage so well, you’d think we had a time machine.