Antique Restoration Tools

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Before moving a piece of heavy furniture, slip socks onto the legs. Also, socks serve as good protective storage covers for small breakables.
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“Tips, Tools, and Techniques” by long-time antiques expert Dr. Georgia Kemp Caraway provides answers to questions about the cleaning and maintenance of common antique and collectible objects, including metal advertising signs, glassware, clothing, and jewelry. Compact yet authoritative, this handbook will appeal to dealers and buyers, as well as everyone with something from Grandma in the attic.

With so many types of antiques and collectibles ripe for discovery and preservation, keeping track of how to restore each item can be a challenge. Keep a set of these antique restoration tools handy, so you won’t waste time hunting for supplies when you want to clean and restore your next big find. This excerpt is taken from Tips, Tools, and Techniques(University of North Texas Press, 2012).

Antique restoration tools to keep on hand

Acid-free paper and boxes (available from craft stores and library and museum suppliers). Protects photographs, prints, and textiles.

Black light. A device that emits ultraviolet radiation (UV) light and can detect cracks in pottery and glue repairs in paper items.

Brushes. Soft-bristled baby brushes (try saying that quickly!) are great for cleaning the delicate fabric on lampshades. Makeup brushes are great for cleaning Christmas ornaments and dusting delicate items with crevices.

Chalk. Prevents silver from tarnishing.

Chamois. Great for polishing mirrors and glassware, but the cloth will dry stiff as a board. To keep chamois soft, dry them quickly outside in the wind or in front of a fan, or in the dryer on air-dry. They will remain soft and pliable.

Covered telephone wire. For mounting buttons onto display cards.

Crayons. Use a color that matches the finish of the wood to hide scratches on furniture.

Twist ties. Keep sets of cufflinks together.

Glare-free glass (available from craft stores or frame shops). Protects photographs and prints from fading.

Monofilament. Use as picture hanging wire for small, lighter-weight pictures.

Mothballs. Place in silverware drawer or chest to prevent discoloration of silver.

Mounting corners (clear). Use to mount photographs, trade cards, and advertising cards.

Pipecleaners. Use with silver polish to clean between fork tines.

Q-Tips. For cleaning any hard-to-reach crevices.

Socks. Before moving a piece of heavy furniture, slip socks onto the legs. Also good protective storage covers for small breakables.

String. Use with silver polish to clean between fork tines.

Superglue. Repair glass and costume jewelry.

Toothbrushes (soft). Use for any small hard-to-get-to crevices. Use with silver polish to remove tarnish from filigreed pieces or with furniture polish to remove dust on carved wood.

Toothpaste (white paste). Cover a stain or scratch on acrylic or plastic with toothpaste. Let dry, then rub with soft cloth. Or as a quickie silver cleaner.

Toothpicks. As a glue applicator.

More on antique preservation

Learn more about how to take care of your collectibles from Tips, Tools, and Techniques in the following articles.

• How to Care for Paper Collectibles
• How to Store Photographs
• How to Remove Rust and Loosen a Rusty Screw

This excerpt from Tips, Tools, and Techniques to Care for Antiques, Collectibles, and Other Treasureshas been reprinted by permission from University of North Texas Press.

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