The range of services you offer will depend on the type of furniture you will work on and your own skills and expertise. It is likely that you will offer some or all of the following:
- furniture restoration (you may be prepared to work on almost any type and age of furniture or you may only undertake work on certain antiques)
- clock case restoration
- book repairs
- in-situ repairs to, for example, panelling and flooring
- repairs to ceramic, brass, silver, stained glass, glass, bronze and other metalware items
- leatherwork such as replacement of desk leather
- restoration and repair work to dolls, toys, jewellery, clocks, paintings, frames, lamps, lights, fans and so on
In order to undertake such work to a high standard you will be trained and experienced in a number of skills such as:
- cabinet making (for example in order to construct new legs, bases for cabinets and so on)
- carving and turning
- veneer and marquetry work
- French and wax polishing
- caning and rush seating work
- cleaning surfaces (anything from wood to mother of pearl)
- treatment of woodworm infestation
- engraving and removal of engravings
- mirror re-silvering
Many of these skills you will possess yourself, but from time to time you may need to subcontract work to a specialist, for example, someone specialising in Oriental lacquer work. The British Antique Furniture Restorers' Association (BAFRA) can provide details of members with specialist skills.
There are a number of other services that you might consider offering, such as:
- bespoke cabinet and fine furniture making (modern furniture, antique reproductions and recrafted items made to order)
- retail sales of restored antiques
- retail sales of wax polishes
- contract waxing for country houses, hotels and similar organisations, to keep antiques polished, free from heat and water marks, scuffs and so on
- report writing for insurance claims and dispute resolution
Advertising your business
Whichever services you plan to offer, it's very important to make sure your potential customers will know about you and what you can do for them. If you plan to offer a complete antique furniture restoration and conservation service it's a good idea to make sure that as many antique dealers, auction houses, stately homes and so on as possible receive some promotional literature about your services. It would be useful to take 'before-during-after' photographs of some of the pieces you work on and include these in your brochure. If you have a website you can show many more photographs and also include some narrative describing the work that has been done, the materials you used and so on.
Consider using social media, forums and blogs wherever possible to promote your business on the web.
You may encourage members of the public to call in to your premises - a tasteful display in your shop window will help to attract customers. Make sure that the display highlights your professional skills and is not allowed to become dusty and neglected.