Furniture Care 101
January 22, 2008 5:33 PM   Subscribe

Help me restore and properly care for my wooden furniture.

I've recently inherited a revolving bookcase that belonged to my father. I also have a drafting table that needs attention.

Both the bookcase and the drafting table are in need of care and repair. The top of the bookcase is slightly warped and has a large crack where the wood has split and the shelves are separating from their supports. The drafting table has scratches in the finish and worn edges where people have rested their feet.

What's the best way to care for, restore, and preserve these items? My initial reaction was to disassemble them, strip the wood, fix the broken parts, re-finish and reassemble them. But now I have several questions:

1. Can you recommend a professional furniture restoration expert/refinisher in or near Berkeley, California?

2. How should I care for them? Do I wipe them down with furniture oil, or just dust them with a dry cloth?

3. I'm also interested in the origins of the bookcase. My father got it sometime in the early sixties--it has a small metal badge that says, "Geo H. Fuller Desk Co. 640 Mission St. S.F." but aside from the initial Google search results, I've had no luck finding out anything about this company, when, where, or by whom the bookcase might have been built, or the style of the bookcase.
posted by fandango_matt to Home & Garden (3 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I can only answer #2: Dry dust only.

The person restoring the furniture (and sorry to say, I only have the names of people in CT and MA, but I do have those names in a file) will give you more guidance on cleaning the metal work on the desk and keeping it in a place with relatively unchanging humidity, if it's possible to do so. A local restorer will likely have knowledge of local furniture shops; if she doesn't know, she'll probably know someone who does.
posted by cobaltnine at 6:16 PM on January 22, 2008

Not in Berkeley, but I love this guy:

Ottmar Umhofer
Edelweiss Furniture Restoration
(650) 369-4831
Redwood City Calif

He's done amazing work on several pieces of mine, including recreating missing slats for a curved back rocking chair.
posted by jamaro at 6:39 PM on January 22, 2008

First of all, do not disassemble and strip any antique furniture. Marks of wear and tear are part of the history and patina of the piece, and any kind of aggressive restoration that erases that will diminish its value and appeal. "Scratches in the finish and worn edges where people have rested their feet" are normal and should be left alone. A little oil won't hurt, I recommend a product called Liquid Gold to hide scratches and wear marks.

The bookcase looks like a nice Mission style piece. I can't see the damage on your picture, so can't offer specific advice. A slight warp on the top does not appear serious; any kind of structural damage should be addressed.

The Rucker-Fuller Desk Company, presumably a successor, was active in San Francisco in 1915 and exhibited at the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exhibition. This would place your desk somewhat earlier, like 1900-1910. The company was listed in San Francisco in 1907.

From the Sacramento Bee, 1906: "WATERBURY/TREADWELL McNUTT--Maud TREADWELL, or to be more exact, Maud TREADWELL McNUTT, is to be married again. For the third time since she became possesor of an enviable share of the famous TREADWELL millions, she will make her way to begin married life, which, in two memorable instances, didn't prove conductive to happiness. This time she will become the wife of George A. WATERBURY, who is connected with the George A. Fuller Desk Company in San Francisco." Source: Sacramento Bee , 17 April 1906, p.13. Transcribed by Sandra Bordelon.
posted by beagle at 6:50 PM on January 22, 2008

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