Moving Antique Furniture - Securing Wood Joints Before The Move

A move from one residence to another can be stressful to merely think about, and your stress may be elevated if you have antique furniture items that need to be moved. While professional movers can help you to move even your most expensive and fragile heirlooms, there are some things you should do to prepare your furniture before the movers arrive. Making sure the joints are secure is one of these things, so keep reading to learn how to inspect, re-glue, and reinforce them.

Inspect Joints

Your antique furniture item may have one of several different joints depending on the age of the piece. These joints are meant to keep the various wood pieces firmly together. However, pressure, stress, and vibrations from regular use can cause these joints to start coming apart. If your furniture piece was made before 1870, then it likely has dovetail joints. These joints are formed from angled pins and slots that fit together along drawer corners and legs. These types of joints are hand carved and likely to remain intact. If you see these joints, then you probably do not have to worry about the joints coming apart during the moving process. This is also likely true of machined dovetail joints and joints that feature round pins or dowel type joints.

However, if your antique piece of furniture appears to have a sliding joint down the one edge or if corners appear to be bonded together with an adhesive, then they might not be nearly as secure. Try to wiggle the joint lightly to see if there is any movement. If there is, then you may need to reactivate the adhesive glue that keeps the joint in place.

Glue the Joints

It is relatively easy to adhere joints if the glue is made out of hide glue. This is likely, because this was the first type of glue used to adhere antique furniture pieces together. Hide glue can be reactivated with heat. Place a small amount of hot water along the edge of the joint or use a hair dryer to heat it for several minutes. Once the glue becomes sticky, press the joint together with strong pressure until the glue starts to solidify. Allow the glue to dry fully for two days and then test the joint. If the joint no longer wiggles, then it is secure.

If the joint still moves, then the joint likely need more glue to secure it properly. You can purchase hide glue from furniture and antique repair specialists. This is wise, so you can retain the authentic nature of the furniture item. The glue will come in pellet form when you purchase it. These pellets will need to be soaked in water and then warmed up. Read the directions provided with the glue to complete this process properly. 

Once the glue is ready, heat up the old glue and use a small paintbrush to add the new glue to the joint. Wait another two days until the glue dries and test the joint again.

Reinforce Joints

Once the joints across your antique piece of furniture are secured properly, you will need to reinforce them to make sure they do not become damaged during the move. This is especially true for table legs. Start the reinforcement process by securing a layer of thick packing foam around each joint. Use packing tape over the foam to secure it.

Afterward, place a thin piece of wood against each edge of the leg. Four paint stirrers arranged vertically will work well for this. Use packing tape to keep the stirrers in place and then add another layer of foam. Just make sure that the foam you use completely covers the wood so the tape does not stick to the piece of furniture. This is wise to make sure that the veneer or varnish is not pulled up from the wood.

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