How to move antique furniture?
There are lots of books that explain how to do this but moving companies sometimes don’t train their staff about this. Of course some companies do this and spend time to train their staff for those cases. However, I will explain how we do that.
When we have a case with antique furniture that needs be lifted the first question is what kind of object we are dealing with—a chair, a table, a desk, a coach or other type of furniture. Any and all of them have a construction. The bottom is the part of the construction that gets all the weight of the object. That is the right place for lifting. A chair is a very popular object and a good example. Lift the chair for the seat, not for the back support. I recommend that a table be disassembled. Separate the top from the legs and wrap them separately. It is very important to lift a buffet from the base—the part where the legs are attached—not for the top. If you lift for the top, the screws or dove tails with which it is attached can come off, or even worse, break. When the object is at the place where it will be wrapped and packaged (usually the garage), you are ready for the next step. Use foam wrap, not bubble wrap as the latter doesn’t let the object breath.
Now the second question is what type of finish we have? This is a very important question, although many people disregard it. There are several types of finish—oil based, alcohol based, liquid based, and water based. You don’t need to worry very much about the last type of finish, but the others you need to be able to identify, especially the oil-based finishes. The rule of the thumb is that THE OIL NEVER DRIES. If exposed to high heat, it will come back to the surface and form small blotches. This also applies to oil paintings but this is the next article I will write.
I highly recommend that you package the object in a wooden crate or box. In most cases we cannot be sure what kind of finish we are dealing with. If the piece is crated and wrapped with sufficient amount of cushioning material, it will not touch any other surface and it will be somewhat protected from the extreme temperature conditions. How to do this? It is very simple–several screws at the back side and several at the bottom are enough to catch the object in a position that will be impossible to move. Of course, the owner must be informed and have agreed to this. After that you need to screw in the rest of the box, usually made by 1″ x 4″ lumber. Cover the box with cardboard and write the name of the object, put the stickers you need (fragile! this side up don’t stack on etc.) and object is ready to go. I recommend that you use a CLIMATE CONTROLLED vehicle and keep the furniture at normal room temperatures (70-75 F). Otherwise you can find an antique finish destroyed. It will look as if somebody has sprinkled small drops of thick sticky oil on it. In this situation nothing can help except to strip the furniture and build a new finish.