Get it done / Furniture fixes
Photos by Nancy J. Parisi
Furniture Hospital was established in 1979. John Bond, president—and no, he is not a doctor—took over in 2004. He’d studied art and design at McKinley High School, and began helping the previous owner—a neighbor—in the summer. “He trained me and I never left,” says Bond. “It’s my one and only job.”
What is the range of repairs that you do?
John Bond: We do anything as simple as regluing of chairs to the stripping of doors. We refinish bedroom sets, and we do some colored lacquers restoration, but mostly it’s sanding, staining, and finishing typical everyday furniture. We do not do upholstery; we work with several upholsterers in the area that we refer customers to.
What is your most common repair?
Regluing of dining room chairs.
What percentage of people never pick up their furniture after the repairs are completed?
It’s not very much, maybe less than five percent. I never get rid of anything. I just delivered a table to a customer who hadn’t come back for years; of course, I still had it.
Is there a repair worthy of ICU?
We’ve seen so much furniture through the years; anything can be done. I have a subcontractor who does veneering, another guy who can do turn spindles. There’s nothing that can’t be fixed; it’s just a matter of cost.
Have you seen furniture quality change over the years?
That’s actually what keeps us going, repairs on quality older pieces. But sometimes people decide not to spend the money. A lady brought in an antique bow-front mahogany dresser with three drawers, Hepplewhite handles. The condition was bad, and it needed probably $550 worth of work to refinish it; she declined. The used furniture market is way down. It yins and yangs, and some pieces of better quality like Kittinger appreciate in value, but you have to find the right niche. If that woman wanted to buy a replacement for that mahogany dresser, she would not get as high quality a piece for $550.
Do you ever tell people to pull the plug and forego repair?
Yes, but not often. I’m always honest about the piece that they bring in. You don’t want to be rude about sentimentality—it could’ve been mom’s or grandma’s—but I like to be honest. Some people might think, “I’m going to finish something for $100 and get a lot of money for it afterward.” People have seen Antiques Roadshow and have unrealistic expectations.
Do you have any tips on how not to ruin furniture?
A lot of people take on furniture repair themselves; it’s a Gorilla Glue thing with their chairs, and they will also fix a broken chair with screws. It doesn’t hold up, and then it’s a lot harder for us to fix. With simple repairs, my advice is to leave the furniture as-is and bring it into a professional; it could keep your repair cost down in the long-run.
Another tip is to not use any silicon-based furniture spray polishes. They will break down the finish, and create build-up in the wood grain that dulls the finish.
How long do most repairs take?
Most take about a week or two. With refinishing jobs, it all depends on the work involved. If the customer has a deadline, if they need the table back in time for a holiday or an event, for example, we can make that happen
Do you have a fix for a water ring on a wooden table?
Mayonnaise and cigarette ashes, but it depends on the degree of the damage. The ring is actually moisture that’s trapped under the finish, so the mayo reoils and the ash is like pumice so you’re microsanding the finish. It might work, but it’s not infallible.
708 Hertel Avenue
Buffalo, NY 14207