Restoration Musings

In practicing the art of restoration, I approach each piece with respect and love of craft.  Understanding the original function and form is key to this process. I often mutter to myself that the hand must not be seen.


The first stage is cleaning. I carefully go over the entire piece and clean all the nooks and crannies. By walking my fingers across the varied surfaces, I am able to find the life that the piece has lived. Time is seen in the burn marks, ink spills, and markings from Mother Nature. In viewing the buildup of gunk, a technical term, I can see if the piece has lived part of its life in a kitchen or next to a fireplace. I can tell where the piece was in a room, and where the window was in relation to the furniture. My job is not to erase it all. It is to soften it and let the character that has taken form over time speak to its next owner. In applying wax to the surface, I protect the finish. The finish, usually shellac, is there to protect the wood. I protect the markings of time and place, so that the next generation can pass on a shared piece of history of which they are now a part.

Tom Debari
Tom Debari


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