When it comes to refinishing antiques--antique tables, desks, chairs, etc.--many people struggle with the decision to refinish or not to refinish.
Don't know, don't refinish
We are often torn by the question of whether or not to keep that Chippendale table in its original condition or refinish it. First things first, if you don’t know about refinishing an antiques, you have no business refinishing it.
Learn the value first
If you are comfortable with such DIY projects, then consider refinishing your antique table if you know its value and will not impact the value if your refinishing job goes awry.
And, if your antiques table is in good shape and does not have damage which requires refinishing, do not feel as if you have to refinish it. Don’t feel compelled to refinish it. Leave it alone! A few scratches won't detract significantly from value, but a major stripping job by an untrained refinisher certainly will reduce the object’s value.
I advise folks to look for tables made of hard woods that are sturdy and in good condition. While old, they can make useful additions to your home's decor. Many people indicate that early 1900s furniture (sometimes called "brown furniture") is durable, somewhat good looking, but not in style anymore. No matter the current style, always look for consistent types of wood, attractive patterns and well executed designs. Refinishing can impact the value for the better or for the worse; it all depends on the success of the refinishing job.
What to Look For
When it comes to refinishing antiques, be sure to review the entire piece, not just the most used or most prominent areas of the piece. For instance, be sure that your piece of furniture has not lost a piece of veneer on the back corner of the piece or that a piece of hardware is loose. Review the entire piece before considering whether or not you want to have it refinished.
Get an online appraisal of your piece from Dr. Lori before you refinish it.