How To Identify Antique Wooden Furniture

Do you have a piece of potentially antique furniture and want to know how to identify antique wood furniture? You may have a piece of antique furniture that is starting to fall apart and want to know if it is worth saving. You may just be interested in refinishing, re-staining or repainting your antique furniture. Or you may just want to know what your antique wooden furniture is made of. No matter your purpose or reason for wanting to identify antique wooden furniture, it can be done following these easy steps.

  1. Identify if it is hardwood or softwood. Softwood can be identified by placing your fingernail into the wood, and if it leaves an indention then it is softwood, if no indention is left then is hardwood. Hardwood is a denser than softwood, and is therefore usually more valuable than softwoods. Determining if wood is hardwood or softwood is a simple way to identify antique wooden furniture.
  2. Determine the grain of wood. The cell structure of a tree determines its grain by its annual growth rings (age rings). There are generally two kinds of grain: a close grain and a coarse grain. The close grain gives the wood a smooth appearance because the age rings of the wood are closer together. The coarse grain gives the wood an uneven appearance because the age rings are far apart or open. The character of furniture woods are chosen and valued by their grain.  
  3. Notice if the wood is veneered. Veneer is a thin layer of expensive wood that is glued over the base of a less valuable wood. Veneer furniture is fragile, and has a lower value than a piece of wood furniture made of solid wood. Some veneers are cut from the bottom of a tree to produce a particular pattern from the grain. Wood is usually veneered when you look at the edges of the wood and you see a seam. Veneer wood is used to help give the antique furniture a more expensive look.
  4. Determine the color and value of the wood. The color can easily vary from tree to tree on antique wooden furniture. Although the intensity of the wood may change, the quality of the wood should never change. Due to the availability and rarity of wood, some woods are more valuable than others. Woods that have been imported from other countries traditionally cost more. Examples of valuable woods would be mahogany and rosewood. Less valuable woods would be oak and maple wood.
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