The Furniture Doctors LLC

Scottsdale Furniture Repair Specialists

Home FAQ


Q: What’s the difference between a refinish and a restoration?

A: When a piece of furniture is refinished, the finish is removed by a stripping process and a new finish is applied. With a restoration, we work with the existing finish to enhance it, using several different processes, such as cleaning, glazing, touching up, or overcoating.

Q: What is a glaze?

A: A glaze is a mixture of pigment and finish. We create a custom glaze to add depth to the finish or to modify the color. When refinishing a piece of furniture, we will often glaze it first rather than staining it. This way we have more control over the color we are trying to achieve.

Q: How do you charge for your services?

A: We do not have set prices, as each piece is unique and therefore individually evaluated. A dining table that needs to be refinished might also need repairs to the veneer, or it might have a broken leg. Or the customer might request a specific color that we need to custom mix. Sometimes the top can be refinished and the base restored. It all depends on the condition of the piece and what needs to be done to satisfy the customer.

Q: How can I get a quote for repairing my furniture?

A: There are basically 2 ways to get a quote:  1) You call us at 480-219-4158 to set up an appointment for us to evaluate the damage and write a prescription for repair;  2) You can email pictures to or text a photo to 503-318-8200 for a ball-park estimate. We can always give you a more accurate quote if we see the actual piece, so it is best to make an appointment to bring it to our shop.

Q: Can you repair my furniture in my home, or do I need to bring it to your shop?

A: It is difficult to work on a piece of furniture in the customer’s home or office. We often have to visit the piece several different times for the best results. For instance, when we glue something, we have to clamp it and wait for the glue to dry before going on to step 2. For us to do this in your home, we would need to make several visits, which we don’t believe would be cost effective for you. We also have all the tools in our shop and would have to guess and which tools to bring to your home.

Q: What’s the difference between hand caning and sheet caning?

A: Sheet caning, also known as machine caning, is pre-woven and comes in sheets of varying widths and designs. These sheets are attached with a spline that fits into a perimeter groove to hold the cane in place. Hand caning is a single strand of cane woven through the wood several times to create a pattern.

Q: How can I tell if my chair needs to be hand caned or sheet caned? Can I change it if I want it done another way?

A: If there are perimeter holes in the wood where the cane is, then it requires hand caning. If there is a perimeter groove with a piece of spline, then it requires machine caning. To change a chair from hand caning to sheet caning and visa vera is more time consuming and more expensive than doing it the way it was originally done.

Q: My chair is really old, so does that mean it is probably hand caned?

A: Not necessarily. Sheet caning has been around for over 100 years.

Q: I’ve been told that if I have my furniture refinished, it will lose value. Is this true?

A: Not necessarily. Unless the furniture is rare, historical, or of museum quality, refinishing it will not lower its value. In most cases, refinishing a piece of furniture will add to its value. A nicely refinished 1920′s dining set would sell for more in an antique shop than one with an old, tired finish. An Antiques Roadshow producer clarifies this misconception in an article in Professional Refinishing Magazine. Please refer to The Doc’s Blog posting for his article and more information on this subject.

Q: How old does furniture have to be before it’s considered an antique?

A: The rule of thumb is furniture must be 100 years old to be considered an antique.

Q: What kind of a finish do you use?

A: We use a hand-rubbed tung oil finish. Tung oil comes from the nut of a tung tree, which originates in Asia. We like using tung oil because it is a penetrating finish, meaning it penetrates the fibers of the wood and hardens. It is easy to care for and doesn’t chip off like some of the surface finishes.

Q: How should I care for my furniture after it’s been refinished?

A: We recommend that you use a furniture polish such as orange oil or lemon oil. We like to spray the oil on a cotton cloth, then store it in a sealed baggie for future uses. Do not use waxes or solvents because they can further damage the furniture. Avoid products that say ‘cleans and polishes’ because a cleaner is a solvent. Please refer to The Doc’s Blog posting about furniture maintenance for further information.

Note: Some furniture purists recommend wiping your furniture with mineral spirits (basically paint thinner) and letting it dry overnight, then applying a thin layer of wax or BriWax. The reason we do not recommend this process is because most people overuse the wax and it can cause more harm than good.

Q: Do you do upholstery?

A: We cover dining seats if it does not involve sewing. If you have something that needs sewing, we can recommend an upholsterer to meet your needs.

Q: What is veneer?

A: Veneer is a thin piece of wood that is cut or rolled from a tree. It usually contains beautiful grains and patterns and is often used on table tops and other horizontal surfaces. The veneer is adhered to a subsurface made of wood, plywood, particle board or MDF (medium density fibre board, sometimes called “furniture wood”). Please refer to The Doc’s Blog posting for the history of veneer and how it has been used from King Tut to today:

Q: If I don’t like the color of my furniture, can it be changed?

A: The color can be changed slightly, especially if you want it darker. It is difficult to lighten a piece of furniture. Wood wants to be the color that it is. Something that is maple cannot be made to look like walnut. We can add a glaze to make it a walnut color, but the graining will always remain maple. Likewise, walnut cannot be made to look like maple. To lighten the wood we would have to bleach it, which often compromises the look of the piece.