Our shop and showroom at 20 John Williams Street in Attleboro, MA, closed on January 1, 2020. We will NO LONGER be building custom furniture going forward. Thank you all for supporting our business for the past 46+ years! It has been a joy restoring your antique furniture and creating art furniture from reclaimed antique materials for you and your families. We hope that our life’s work of restoring, salvaging, reclaiming, recreating and creating has brought a smile to you, your families and future generations.
We have stored many boxes and shelves full of antique treasures of all kinds, most of which was purchased in the 1970’s and 1980’s when we were located in Norton, MA. We now have time to unpack those treasures and opened an eBay store in February 2020 called “Pinnacle Pickers”, with an average of 650+ antique pieces for sale! Check it out at
We are posting daily so you just might find a unique antique item for gift giving or to add to your collection! If you or someone you know has antique items they want to sell, please contact Steve via email. Steve is interested in small antique hand tools, furniture hardware (drawer pulls, hinges etc.), barn hardware (strap hinges, barn door rolling hardware), early paper items, photos, Vintage items, etc. It is very helpful if you could email pictures of what you have to sell and Steve will get back to you as soon as he can. We are no longer buying furniture.
The best way to contact us is email at We wish you all good health and joy every day of your lives.
Chris and Steve Staples

Tips On Finishing Furniture

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By Stephen C. Staples

So you’ve acquired a great old piece of furniture and have just the spot for it in your home.  Now you’d like to restore it to its original beauty and usefulness.  Below are some tips on turning that old piece into a beautiful useful piece.

First confirm that you are not removing the patina from an expensive antique. What you don’t want is to take a $1,000 table and refinish into a $100 table.

Important:  Before you begin always read and understand instructions on all labels of the chemicals and solvents you are using and always work in a well-ventilated area.  The fumes can cause dizziness or death if not used in a properly ventilated space.  Also, your local hardware specialist can serve as a great source of information with this project, it’s steps and material needed.

  1. Wash vs. Strip:  Decide whether the old finish should come off or if a thorough cleaning will do.  Perhaps a rejuvenating coat of varnish will bring it back to its original luster.  If cleaning an unpainted piece, hand cleaner containing pumice used with a toothbrush to get into crevices works well.  After cleaning you will know better what you are working with. 

In many instances you can save a lot of work by just refinishing parts of the piece i.e. the drawer front and top of a table or bureau or maybe just the arms and seat of a chair and then rejuvenating the rest of the piece. 

  1. Strip/Paint Remover:  Always, use rubber gloves and a mask when using stripper. Use lots of remover and do not brush back and forth.  Put on a thick layer of stripper with one stroke.  The stripper will form a skin, as like pudding, place plastic trash bags or newspaper on top of the stripper to help keep the stripper from drying out.  Always position the piece so you are working on a horizontal surface, this also keeps you from doing too much at one time.  Place a piece of masking tape over the backside of the key and knob holes so the stripper doesn’t spatter the back of the drawer.    

Don’t remove any stripper until you can rub with one finger (without scraping) down to bare wood.  If the piece has a carving, plan to leave the stripper on those areas longer. 

  1. Removing the Stripper: Periodically, peek under the plastic to determine how quickly the stripper is working. You may need to flow on additional stripper if it the finish is thick.  When the finish is soft, scrape it off with an expired credit card or a putty knife, but a credit card is less likely to damage the wood.
  1. Wash:  When the stripper has softened the finish, scrape off as much as possible, so you can wash down the piece with the appropriate solvent or water.  It is very important to read the container to determine appropriate washing liquid.  Scrub with a stiff brush with course wood chips, hamster bedding from the pet store will work just fine!  This will clean and dry the piece around spindles and carvings.  If the piece you are stripping is veneered, be careful when using water as to not lift the veneer.  When refinishing, it is more desirable to make every effort to bring forth the original surface and not produce a new one. 


  1. Sand/Sandpaper:  As a novice, the finer the sandpaper you use, the longer it will take to make a mistake.  To remove light scratches, which is all you should do, use fine grit sandpaper.  120 C open coat aluminum oxide will do nicely.  To remove any stripper residue and set the wood up to accept a finish, 220 open coat aluminum oxide is good.  To sand various shapes and moldings on your piece you can use old felt.  Shape it and cover it with sandpaper.  (Important information on sandpaper: The 120 refers to the grit size. The lower the number, the coarser the paper.).
  1. Stain:  Your best bet is to purchase the leading brand of pigmented wiping stain, which are color fast, direct-to-wood stains formulated to develop and highlight the grain of all wood species.  They can be cross-mixed to achieve different tones i.e. adding mahogany to walnut for a reddish brown color or ebony to walnut for a deep dark brown.  Brush the stain on, leave it for a moment and wipe it dry.  Make sure to use rubber gloves and a mask during the staining process as well.

Remember to place all used rags in an approved airtight container.  DO NOT leave them on the bench all bunched up, as spontaneous combustion will cause them to burst into flames!  If you do not have a container, lay the rags out flat to dry, preferably outside.  Any rags containing solvents are extremely dangerous.

  1. Finish:  Now your piece is ready for the finish.  To keep it simple the best method is a wipe on finish.  There are even wipe on polyurethane finishes for optimal protection.  Just put the finish on with a soft cloth keeping it wet until it doesn’t seem to want to absorb any more finish, then wipe it dry.  Wait 24 hours and then give the piece a light sanding with 320 sandpaper and apply the finish again.  You can do this as many times as you wish, but three or four coats should suffice.  Start out with a gloss finish and the last coat should be a semi gloss.  Your piece is now ready for that special spot in your home.
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