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When you want to refinish old wooden furniture, the best place to look is the family storeroom: Check the attic, basement, garage, or wherever unwanted furniture has collected. You may also discover a real antique or two -- pieces handed down through the family for generations. Other good sources are secondhand stores, household auctions, and garage sales. With furniture, as with anything else, one person's junk is another another's treasure. Antique stores are a good place to find furniture to refinish, but expect to pay for these pieces.
Wood screws are one of the least understood clues in establishing the date and authenticity of antique furniture. They are especially valuable for dating country and primitive furniture. The stylistic techniques used to date formal furniture such as Chippendale and Hepplewhite simply do not work for American country and primitive furniture; screws can tell a story about the history of a piece. Wooden screws — screws made from wood — date from antiquity.
The video above provides a great introduction to dating antique furniture and what areas should be examined. Take note of the shape of the screws used to hold the furniture together.
One of the most overlooked and least understood clues in establishing the date and authenticity of older and antique furniture is the story that screws can tell about the history of a piece. Screws are relative newcomers to the production of furniture, primarily because they are so hard to make by hand. But as the complexity and sophistication of furniture increased in the late 17th century and the use of brass hardware, locks and concealed hinges became more popular, there was an obvious need for a fastener that could hold two surfaces together without having to penetrate the back surface of the second piece.