LumberJocks

Antique restoration

  • Advertise with us

« back to Sweating for Bucks Through Woodworking forum

Forum topic by simmers posted 786 days ago 2054 views 0 times favorited 34 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View simmers's profile

simmers

17 posts in 1971 days


786 days ago

I got laid off from my job 2 months ago, first time in my life. I am attempting to make my hobby of restoring antiques a job. Possible??? Any tips are appreciated.

I do not have an air compressor (except a pancake). I need to be able to spray! I can’t afford the big compressor/HVLP conversion gun, etc., unless I find a used compressor. Is the Rockler HVLP spray “system” a good option at $139…..or the Earlex…....or not?

Thanks
Bob

-- simmers


34 replies so far

View CharlieM1958's profile

CharlieM1958

15547 posts in 2721 days


#1 posted 786 days ago

I’ve heard good things about the small Earlex unit.

Also, keep in mind that you can buy a decent HVLP gun for $50 and use it with your small compressor. This would not be feasible for large jobs like a set of cabinets, but for piece work it is do-able.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View dhazelton's profile

dhazelton

1101 posts in 799 days


#2 posted 786 days ago

I would buy a dedicated HVLP unit. The power is provided by what is essentially a shop vac motor providing warm dry air. An oil-free pancake compressor will never keep up with the volume of air you need and you will kill it in no time, not to mention that you should have a moisture separator in line with the hose. My HVLP is a Wagner I bought about over a decade ago for around $325, but they have become very affordable and the quality of the cheaper units looks no different than what I bought back then. I wouldn’t hesitate to buy one.

View a1Jim's profile

a1Jim

109409 posts in 2080 days


#3 posted 786 days ago

I have the low cost Earlex and it works great as long as your not trying to shoot something as thick as house paint.I’ve been spraying for 35 years and I was really surprised how well it worked. I think I saw a ad from highland woodworking supply showing a new Earlex model for around $139. I don’t want to be contrary with dhazelton but unless your spraying a very small object most pancake compressors can not put out the volume needed to spray large pieces.
I also found that you can buy lacquer and shellac in rattle cans that work very well on small objects or repairs.

-- http://artisticwoodstudio.com Custom furniture

View dbray45's profile

dbray45

2468 posts in 1279 days


#4 posted 786 days ago

Harbor Freight has a sprayer for around $25.00. You can use your pancake compressor with the small unit. You have to wait sometimes for it to catch up. In your position, this is what I would do until I get some revenue going. It also gives you a throw away system to practice with and get used to spraying. I bought this a few years ago and still use it from time to time. I usually hand apply my finishes because I have more control and the fumes are a lot less.

Just a thought

-- David in Damascus, MD

View dhazelton's profile

dhazelton

1101 posts in 799 days


#5 posted 786 days ago

I was not advocating the compressor/sprayer route. You will frustrate yourself to no end if you try to spray with an oil free pancake – they are made for filling basketballs and shooting a brad. THEY ARE NOT HIGH VOLUME NOR DO THEY HAVE HIGH DUTY CYCLES AND THEY CREATE MOISTURE. Why would you want to be in the middle of a panel and have to wait for the compressor or have it spit moisture out? Just buy the HVLP. If you plan on shooting any kind of casework and making your living by refinishing, then buy the right tool for your needs. You will kick yourself if you don’t.

View dbray45's profile

dbray45

2468 posts in 1279 days


#6 posted 786 days ago

Don’t get me wrong, not a long term solution – but – when you have lost your income, bills are due and you are trying to get something in – anything, it is an option. HF also has very cost effective compressors and armed with a couple of 20% off coupons, the bite on the pocket is greatly reduced.

I have been there and telling the better half that you want to spend a bunch of money is not going over easily. Then again, if I am doing something on old furniture and it is shellaq, i am doing french polish – no sprayer required.

-- David in Damascus, MD

View poopiekat's profile

poopiekat

3404 posts in 2237 days


#7 posted 786 days ago

Sprayers aside, I do have a suggestion about restoring antiques…
After having done several pieces of restoration for clients…it got old real fast. I was dabbling in antiques, and people were impressed with my work, so it became rather easy to get restoration or refinish jobs. But.. the hassles of trying to satisfy customers who could never be satisfied made it clear why others in the trade were giving me their referrals…Long story. So.. I began buying those critter pieces of furniture at auctions, y’know the ones with damaged veneers, missing a drawer, or other fatal flaws…remanufactured missing or damaged items, spiffed them up, and freighted them off to the antique shows on Sundays. Anyone had an issue with what I was selling? I could either pump them into something else, or send them on their way, no harm no foul. Not so difficult when compared to having a client complain that your resto “isn’t quite the same shade” or some other nonsense. Buying relics, refurbishing them, and retailing them is infinitely preferable to the commission-based restorations. But yes, using your unemployment status to launch your biz is strategically a great idea. As long as the rent is paid, and the kids are well-fed and clothed, go for it!!

-- Einstein: "The intuitive mind is a sacred gift, and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift." I'm Poopiekat!!

View dbray45's profile

dbray45

2468 posts in 1279 days


#8 posted 786 days ago

I fully agree with this. In my projects I detail the repair – only to be told that it was too shiny afterward. You can find stuff at the curb during trash days and get stuff for free that just needs to be glued and resell them.

-- David in Damascus, MD

View canadianchips's profile

canadianchips

1830 posts in 1500 days


#9 posted 786 days ago

I agree. Re-furbishing is easier target crowd.Don’t put to much CASH into your projects….people still want items for NOTHING !

-- "My mission in life - make everyone smile !"

View dhazelton's profile

dhazelton

1101 posts in 799 days


#10 posted 786 days ago

I don’t think any of us knows enough about the financial situation or Simmers skill level to recommend a business plan. There is a huge payback difference in picking up broken furniture and fixing it for resale at flea markets and making high end reproduction Chippendale chairs for museum display. If I were told my best plan of action was dumpster diving and reselling at flea markets I think I would quit before I ever got started.

View Loren's profile

Loren

6770 posts in 2151 days


#11 posted 786 days ago

Unless you already know plenty about spray finishing, trying
to make money refinishing tired old furniture will be a
mistake.

1. It’s labor intensive and easy to mess up.
2. It requires attention to cleanliness and detail.
3. You need space to hold the pieces while the finish cures.
4. You need to be set up to deliver the pieces, with finish intact and perfect, to the buyer.

An alternative I suggest is going after the shabby aesthetic favored
by young artist and professional types, where a beat-up finish
is an advantage and for whom the owning of repurposed old
industrial furniture and stuff made from salvaged architectural
elements is a status badge of taste and ecology.

View simmers's profile

simmers

17 posts in 1971 days


#12 posted 786 days ago

I’m able to make it on unemployment and my wife’s job. My skill level is intermediate. A retired antique restorer (made his living at it) is helping me with advice when I get stuck. So far I’ve done an ice chest, 2 oak pedestal tables, 3 kitchen chairs, a porch swing, a child’s sled(1900), a child’s desk and an old sewing cabinet. All needed repair. My repair skills are SLOW, and my finishing with a brush is SLOW. I charge what I think it should cost if I was as fast as I should be – I’m learning, and I’m trying to get business. I use KWIK paint & varnish remover to strip. I can do a good size piece in about 1 1/2 hours. If I get faster at the repair, and can spray I MAY be able to do this, but I AM applying for real day jobs. So far I’ve used WATCO danish oil. I have also used shellac. My shop is 24 X 24. My wife is very supportive of this venture, but health insurance is a killer!
My target is heirlooms, pieces that have been passed down, possibly nearly discarded. People who have heirlooms don’t gripe about every penny. They want it to look like it was when granny had it in her summer kitchen 50 years ago.
All of the above is just a ‘plan’ for right now. I am open to all advice and really appreciate the responses.
Bob

-- simmers

View dhazelton's profile

dhazelton

1101 posts in 799 days


#13 posted 786 days ago

Hey Bob, what I don’t like about spraying is that it seems to take me as long to clean up the gun as I’ve saved in finish time. It just feels that way, I’m sure it’s not really…

If that’s the kind of work you want to do I’d open up some dialogues with antique shops or home decorators, do a Craigslist ad in the collectible section. If a picker for antique shops knows he’s got a go-to guy for repair he might buy things expressly to bring to you. A shop near me buys old wooden steamer trunks, cleans out the smell, cleans and varnishes them and they sell as fast as they come in. Hoosier cabinets do well, I’ve done a few of those that need drawer bottoms and repro hardware but the key is to get the units cheap. Big hand-made looking harvest tables and benches do well, also.

Start talking to people local to you to see what sells. Don’t discount having a table at a craft fair or flea market for wooden crafts like spoons, bowls or birdhouses. I think the answer is there if you look around.

View JAAune's profile

JAAune

475 posts in 819 days


#14 posted 786 days ago

Furniture repair and restoration should be profitable if you’re skilled enough to do it on a timely basis. There is plenty of that work out there and not enough people willing to do it (at least in my area).

Shellac is a great product to use for restoration work. It can help overcome fisheye and be used for toners or quick sealing tasks. It is also easily reversed with alcohol. I am fond of alternating between lacquer and shellac when I need to use toners, grain fillers and similar products because I can remove the shellac without harming the lacquer. You can also do a quick wipe with acetone to remove Famowood off fully cured shellac and not harm it.

Get really good at using dyes as stains and toners. Color match using layers of color instead of trying to find a perfect stain match. A sequence that works well for me is as follows:

1. Water-based dye stain
2. Oil stain
3. Light coat of lacquer
5. Spot repairs using Mixol pigments in shellac – dab a brush in shellac, dip in pigment and paint on the wood
6. Light spray of Deft over spot repairs (skip if no spot repairs are done)
7. Shellac toner (if needed)
8. Light coat of lacquer (skip if no toner is used)
9. Glaze (if needed)
10. Topcoat

Sometimes I do the toner step multiple times if the coloring process is complex. I’ll do all of the above steps if needed but try to get the job done in less if possible.

-- See my work at http://remmertstudios.com and http://altaredesign.com

View simmers's profile

simmers

17 posts in 1971 days


#15 posted 786 days ago

JAAune
Thanks very much. I’ll keep that info.
Restoring antiques ona timely basis is the challenge. I’m trying to get into a routine and get more efficient. Having never been self employed before, it is pretty tough to change my work habits at 53. I need to accomplish this by the time my unemployment runs out.
Bob

-- simmers

showing 1 through 15 of 34 replies

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics

HomeRefurbers.com

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics

GardenTenders.com :: gardening showcase