Furniture Refinishing & Repair
Archived Q&A and Reviews
Professional to refinish a 'tansu' cabinet?
We're looking to have someone come to our home to refurbish a Japanese tansu cabinet. Previous owners turned it into a bathroom vanity so we cannot have it taken in somewhere. Hoping to find someone experienced with this type of piece. Thanks much! Audrey
Hi Audrey - Kiku Imports in SF have a team of folks who refinish all their tansu and furniture from Japan. They might be able to help you. Call them soon though, they're actually closing their store soon. ;-( Their website is http://www.kikuimports.com Debbie L.
Dina Rubiolo does impeccable furniture restoration and refinishing. She a master furniture maker and has taught furniture-making and design at the college level,. She is honest, responsible, experienced and skilled - and busy - and nice! She built us a beautiful maple table, and refinished an older oak table perfectly. You can reach her at drubiolo [at] hotmail.com , and view her work on her website www.dinarubiolo.com. Happy customer
You are in luck! Gary Twitchell is fabulous, reasonable, and makes house calls. His number is 510.862.6528. His website is www.rahnwordworking.com. I'd LOVE to find a tansu bath vanity myself, so if you decide to let it go, please let me know. Terry M
Painter/refinisher for wood furniture
Hello, I'm looking for a reasonably priced person to sand & paint 2 side tables, kitchen table & chairs. The side tables each have drawers. Much appreciated! Anon
You might try Dina Rubiolo (510) 566-0619, if she has time. She's great! Experienced furniture- maker, wood-worker, builder. She knows wood extremely well, does great work, is clean, responsible, reasonable. Been very happy with all the work she has done for us. Check out the 'furniture' section of her website (Dinarubiolo.com) for examples of the gorgeous furniture she makes! She also does furniture refinishing and restoration work. Good luck with your project. Very happy customer
Rocking chair repair
I have a children's rocking chair- not an antique but at least 40 years old. It is in good condition except one of the posts going into one of the runners has broken (not a clean break), leaving part of the peg in the runner and the other in the chair frame. I'm imagining all it might take for me to do it is a drill to remove the peg from each side, a new peg with some glue AND some skill, all of which I am lacking. Any recommendations on who could help? Any recommendations on a good woodworker? Thank you! Andrea
Alpha Restoration Studios in Emeryville is great. Guy Bovie, the owner & wood craftsman, did a great job fixing my two living room chairs after UPS busted the wood legs and also fixed a wood desk chair. He even gave me free, detailed, advice on how to clean and refinish our dining room table myself. I called him numerous times with questions and even though I think I made a pain of myself he was totally patient and helpful. He's a great person, easy to work with, and has very reasonable prices(I compared his prices to others before working with him.) Definitely give him a call 510-658-8579 Reva
Repair for Duncan Phyfe-style drop-leaf dining table
Hello, We have a Duncan Phyfe-style drop-leaf dining table that is in need of repair. Can anyone refer a good and reliable furniture repair person/business in Berkeley/Oakland area? Thanks! Greg
We love the people at Alpha Restoration Studio in Emeryville. They did an excellent and inexpensive job of restoring a set of old oak dining chairs--we couldn't be happier with the results. Very pleasant and friendly people. They're at 4512 Hollis Street, Emeryville, CA (510) 658-8579 Judy in Berkeley
Antique Furniture Restorer
Has anyone used Giorgio Di Costanzo for restoring antiques in the last 2 years? Amy
While I haven't used the restorer you mentioned, I just had to put a plug in for Alpha Restoration Studio in Emeryville. They do beautiful, meticulous work. They restored my family's antique rocking chair which had 2 legs splintered by UPS shipping. They rebuilt the legs, which were turned and tapered, and you cannot tell which ones were damaged. The restoration is flawless. The proprietors, Katie and Guy, are kind-hearted, knowledgeable, really lovely people. They've done work for museums - very top-notch. Tel. (510) 658-8579 Elizabeth
Hoping you can help with a recommendation for an excellent furniture repair/antiques restoration person. I have a large piece that needs to be repaired in my home (Oakland). Thanks! anon
The best place (IMHO) for antique restoration of something made of wood is Mr. Gatti in San Francisco's Mission District (I think it's on 14th St). Look for his business in the phone book. He's pricey, but you'll know the job is done right. I think that if the piece is REALLY, REALLY old he'll give you names of others who do that kind of stuff. He's 100% professional and you can trust his judgement. JM
2007 - 2009 Recommendations
Antique furniture repair/refinishing/restoration
Can anyone recommend a skilled craftsperson to restore some nineteenth-century furniture that needs minor repairs (e.g., veneer) and restoration (e.g., sun damage)? Oakland or Berkeley location preferred, but will travel for quality work! preservationist
I'd like to recommend Michael Engle of Revue Furnishings. For me he refinished a dining room table, 6 dining room chairs including reupholstering the seats plus refinishing the top of a 40's style buffet cabinet. He brought the old furniture back to life. When my neighbor saw the table, she asked him to refinish one of her chairs. Here's his contact information: (415)378-3481, revuefurnishings [at] yahoo.com mth
Do-it-yourself table refinishing?
I have a solid cherry table that is about 10 years old and the polyurethane finish is wearing off and there are bare patches of wood. The rest of the table is fine it is just the top that needs help. I know it needs to be refinished and was wondering if this is a manageable thing to do myself? I am not particularly handy but I am detailed oriented when doing a project like this. I can't find a step-by-step guide on the internet on how to do this. Do I need to strip it with chemicals or can I sand it? Would I hand sand it or rent a sander? I have many questions like this. This is our main family table that is used for all meals, homework, etc. Patricia
Your refinishing job sounds do-able for a novice. I have had good results following recommendations in the Sunset book on furniture finishing and refinishing (if they're still in print). My first refinishing job was a dresser and I ended up borrowing an electric hand sander. Berkeley has a tool lending library at its Russell/MLK (I believe) branch.
As for strippers--you probably would need to use one. I've never tried the citrus based type but if I were doing any stripping, I'd try to get the opinion of someone who's used one. Francesca
I've refinished several items and you can do a couple of different things, but I've found the easiest is to use a stripping solution (Jasco is what I've always used) and then sanding. Jasco is really toxic so you'll need special gloves, a mask and wear full length clothes. for sanding, you can rent power sanders at your local tool lending library for free! The one in Berkeley is near MLK & Ashby, and the Oakland library is at the corner of Telegraph and Claremont Ave (you need to use the library in the city where you're a resident). This is a pretty easy job if you're just doing the top and edges of the table and not the legs. Then get a good polyurethane to paint on (I've used the Zar brand).
Make sure you lightly hand-sand in between coats of polyurethane with a very light grade sandpaper (200-250 grade) and then vacuum off the dust before applying the next layer. That will make them adhere better and give you a much smoother finish. For a table top I'd do 3 coats. Also do all this work outside as the fumes and dust aren't great to have in your house.
Here are some tips for stripping:
Good Luck! DIY
Dining room table refinishing
I am looking for an experienced furniture refinisher to restore a 50 year old dining table and chairs to new life. Any recommendations would be greatly appreciated. Larissa
I have used Regency Restoration,first the father, Don Wagg, and now his son, Bruce, for my antique/vintage furniture for years. Bruce recently refinished my 1920s Duncan Phyfe-style dining room set to perfection. It gleams, looking old and well-cared-for, not ''plastic new.'' The work is always excellent, and the price is reasonable. 510-534-0603 or 510-522-2020. -- Laura
2004 - 2006 Recommendations
We would like to refinish our table instead of buying a new one. We need a recommendation for someone that does good work and is reasonably priced. Also looking for an upholsterer. Thanks Stacia
One of my clients recommended the following company for furniture refinishing and say they do a wonderful job. Alpha Furniture Restoration in Emeryville. 658.8579. Good Luck! Kimberly
My husband and I just had a large chest of drawers and a small living room bookcase refinished by Antonio of Ferreria Refinishing. They came out to our house, gave an estimate, did a fabulous job, and were very reasonable. Very good people to work with and we highly recommend them. Tel. 510-536-4973
Bamboo furniture repair
Does anyone know where I can get bent bamboo furniture repaired. I have a chair that has fallen through, and a couch that needs to have the under supports redone. Thanks! Susan
Take your items to The Caning Shop, 926 Gilman, Berkeley, 800.544.3373, www.caningshop.com. They are the best resource in Berkeley.
Restoring two 18th century windsor chairs
I have two 18th century windsor chairs that need to be fixed. Does anyone have any recommendations for an antique restorer they liked? Thanks for your help
Almost Home Antique in Alameda, the owners name is Konstantin. He is great. Just be patient with him, English is his second language, but he is great with wood and restoring old pieces of furniture. His phone # is 523 8522. Elena
Stripping nursery furniture
We have a couple pieces of furniture that need stripping. They are for the nursery we are getting ready for our baby. We have tried a few natural products without much luck. My husband wants to take them somewhere to have them stripped. My concern is whether or not these harsh chemical strippers will stay in the wood, leaving us exposed to them when we bring the furniture back into our home. I can find all sorts of info on why the chemicals are bad, but nothing about residue they might leave on wood. Does any one know anything about this?? Mary
We had a lot of window and door trim stripped in our Alameda victorian to get rid of the lead paint. When the pieces came back they were bare wood and looked like they had never been painted. (We used JD Harpe, aka The Caning Place, Alameda)
If you're planning to varnish, you shouldn't dip the furniture because it affects the original color of the wood. If you're planning to repaint, then a couple of coats of primer and latex will probably seal in any residual chemical agents.
Also, it's hard for me to imagine that the acid-based dipping agents could possibly be more toxic than the fumes which out-gas from fresh paint. Be sure and air the furniture (and any freshly painted rooms) thoroughly before baby arrives. Now THAT'S toxic!
Stripping and restoring 4 chairs
I have 4 danish modern chairs that need paint stripped and have the wood restored. I also have a foot rest that needs to be repaired. Any suggestions in teh East Bay? Amanda
for amy looking for a furniture refinisher: i recommend michael of Revue Refinishing Studio, (510) 658-8118, 675 37th St, Oakland, CA 94609. he recently redid two italian modern chairs for me. they look beautiful. he's very nice and his work is great. a bit pricey, but still less than new chairs. if you can check out his shop, it's full of lots of neat pieces. liz
Repair for heirloom dining room chair
I am looking for someone who can repair a dining room chair form the 1920's. It was my grandmother's set, one of the chair backs has been broken, but I have all the pieces. It is a beautiful piece with inlaid wood and a fan insert in the back. If you know someone you would trust a treasured family heirloom to, please let me know. I am also interested in finding someone who can re-upholster these chairs as well. Please send your recommendations to me. Thank you. Hallie
Last summer I used Clever Fellows Woodworking in Emeryville (923-0591, 4076 Halleck St) to repair a 100 year old child's rocking chair which a babysitter's boyfriend sat in (30 years ago!) and broke off an arm. Clever Fellows was able to repair the chair so that you can't tell that it had been broken. It wasn't cheap but it is great to have my great aunt's rocking chair restored so my daughter can use it. Cindy
2003 & Earlier
Refinish vintage high chair
I have an old high chair circa 1930's that I would like to get refinished. Does anyone have a recommendation for someone that will take on a small project such as that? Thanks! roxanne
I had great luck with J & L Refinishing Corp, 620 Alabama, SF (415-826-2505). Melissa T
For wood furniture restoration, I can recommend Alpha Furniture Restoration in Emeryville (510 658 8579). They are probably not the cheapest out there, but they are real crafts people and do beautiful work. We have entrusted some treasured pieces to them and been very happy with the results. Claire
I very highly recommend Jennifer Torres for wood furniture or trim refinishing and repair. I hired her to repair and refinish my dining room set (antique, from Vietnam) and she did a fantastic job. She was so good, and so reasonable, that I asked her to refinish the wood trim in the living room of the bungalow we just bought -- something I thought would be prohibitively expensive. She has TRANSFORMED our living room: the redwood trim is now vibrant, warm, gorgeous. Everyone who has walked in the front door has commented on how nice it looks. Jennifer is incredibly reliable, responsible, and nice. She is a perfectionist and, on each job, has done MORE than I've asked, for no extra charge. In addition, I've found her prices to be MUCH lower than I expected, esp. given the amazing job she does. We have a lot of people working on our home, and Jennifer is by far the most reliable -- and we're getting the most bang for the buck. I have an infant and a toddler and Jennifer has been very conscientious about working with potentially dangerous materials (including stripping lead-based varnish). I would be happy to show off our new living room and/or dining chairs and table to anyone who is considering hiring her.
Jennifer's cell # is 415-412-5322. She mostly works on the weekends since she has a ''day job,'' but she has worked during the week for me to accommodate my schedule. I can't say enough good things about Jennifer (who is not a relative, I swear!) and will gladly answer any additional questions. linh
Refinishing painted table
We have a painted table that we want to refinish. Does anyone know someone good, and more importantly, reasonably priced? Anna
Thank you very much for the recommendation of Jennifer Torres for furniture refinishing. Jennifer just Finished 4 pieces for us and she transformed them from ordinary furniture into works of art. She had excellent suggestions for which stains and accessories to use. We found her to be extremely talented and professional And would highly recommend her. She can be reached at 415.412.5322. jennifer
Old furniture needs to be refinished
We have some old furniture that is in need of some refininshing. It is in good shape and doesn't need repairs, just refinishing. Does anyone have any good recommendations? We are in the Oakland hills. Melissa
I used a husband and wife-owned company a few years ago called The Stripping Workshop (really, they just do furniture). I believe they are somewhere on the other side of the tunnel, like Walnut Creek, but I can't recall. They picked up a large bookcase at my house in Oakland and delivered it when finished, and did a beautiful job. I also can't recall the price, though I know it wasn't real cheap. I have nothing to compare it to, however, since it is the only time I've ever had this service done. Tracy
Stop us before we buy new furniture!! We have some formerly beautiful furniture that has ''lost the old showroom shine'' and we're looking for someone to refinish the pieces so we don't have to replace them with cookie cutter new stuff. The archives have repair information, but our pieces are in good shape. They just need to be stripped and refinished. Thanks for any leads. Anne-Marie
My husband designs and builds custom furniture and recommends Alpha Refinishing in Oakland. He has the number at his shop and says he can bring it home if you want their number and can't find it. Jennifer
I can recommend Jennifer Ashley's, owned by Curt Bowles. Curt did two pieces for me several years ago and I would not hesitate to call him again. One piece was part of a set and he did a nice job of matching the colors and appearance. It appears he has moved his shop from Richmond: the listing in the phone book is 925-254-5119. Lori
I recommend M. Ferreira in Oakland for furniture refinishing (536-4973). They did beautiful work on my dining table and buffet (old family pieces). They come to your house to give you an estimate. They will also take the piece to their shop to do the work, and return it. Cathy
I am looking for recommendations for people who refinish wood tables professionally. Thanks very much. Fabian
I have used M. Ferreira in Oakland (536-4973) to refinish my dining room table and sideboard. These are antique pieces and they did a marvelous job at a reasonable price. Cathy
Repair for antique chair
My mother's antique chair needs repair of the wood frame (top edge broke but we have all the pieces). Any recommendations for a woodworker or other wonderful (and not outrageously expensive) repair person. Thanks, merry
I highly recommend Regency Restoration in east Oakland. I've used Regency for restoration of a number of antique pieces, with great results. It's basically a one-man shop, and he takes great care with each piece. I had a limited budget and he was able to help guide me to decide what to do with the money I could spend. Tel no is 534-0603. Raissa
Grandma's table arrived from Oklahoma. It looks like hell! Most of it seems salvageable, except for the leaves, which are warped and water-damaged. Now we are looking for someone to custom-make one big, new leaf for the table out of oak to match the older table. It needs to match up in the three- or four-inch skirt along the side, too. Does anyone know a reasonably priced craftsman for the job? Thanks! Lynn
I recommend you speak to John Mercer, 845-8823, and Bob Barret, 549-1156. They are both respected woodworkers but neither has made anything for me so I can't make a direct recommendation. I've seen Bob Barret's work and it is beautiful. I spoke to John Mercer for his recommendation on some tricky repair work and was impressed. It's difficult to say what reasonable is, so get estimates. Someone who is very skilled and has a lot of specialized equipment can work faster than someone who is less experienced and doesn't have equipment that can speed a job up. Another issue that might come up is matching the grain of the new wood to the old. Our own cabinetmaker (who is no longer in business) told us about this. I think he said old oak has a tighter grain than new oak. Don't be surprised if the people you speak to bring this up. Fran
There's a very nice couple in Berkeley/Emeryville area (on Adelaine) who run a furniture refinishing business called Top Coat. I used their services to strip several pieces of furniture which I then refinished myself. The owners were very congenial and gave me lots of free advice about my project. Their prices were competitive. My neighbor sells restored antiques and often uses their services for refinishing. Lynn