Skip to content
Home » 6 Key Tips to Help you Identify Your Antique Wooden Furniture

6 Key Tips to Help you Identify Your Antique Wooden Furniture

  • Sonia Saini 
  • 6 min read

Antique wooden furniture is not just a great addition to any home but also makes a valuable investment. Along with being beautiful and durable it can be passed down from one generation to the next and enjoyed for years to come.

Owning antique wooden furniture is also an investment in history. It can be a reminder of past generations and be turned into a family heirloom. This will not only make it a source of pride for current and future generations but also ensure that memories and stories continue to live on forever.

However, before you can reap the benefits of owning any, you need to know how to identify antique furniture made of wood. Whether you are looking for a piece of antique furniture for your home, or looking to sell on, becoming familiar with how to identify antique furniture takes research.

To help you accurately do this, we’ve put together a few tips that could come in handy.

Examine the Joinery

The unique technique that is used to join two pieces of wood is what is known as joinery in wooden furniture pieces. The joinery of antique furniture is often very precise and intricate. In older pieces of furniture, joinery was often done using hand tools.

There was no mass production of furniture and pieces were handcrafted and lovingly assembled using quality materials that could stand the test of time. That is why when looking for signs of antique wooden furniture what you need to check for are dovetails, Mortise-and-Tenon, and dowel joints.

Check the Wood

Antique oak wood table with intricate carvings

One of the best ways to identify your antique furniture is to look at the type of wood used all over the piece. But, identifying the type of wood used in antique wooden furniture can be a challenge. So here’s what you need to do. Antique furniture is often made of very high-quality wood, such as mahogany, walnut, or oak. Any antique furniture that is made of these woods should have a smooth, even grain and be free from knot holes or other imperfections.

It may be hard to tell apart what kind of wood or finish was used on the furniture piece, but they are crucial clues. This can give an important hint as to whether the antique piece of wooden furniture was cut with machines or was handmade.

Look for Signs of Age

The most obvious sign of an antique is its age. Look for telltale signs such as wear and tear, nicks and gouges, cracks, splits, discoloration, and warping. These signs will most times help you identify the age of the piece. If the furniture looks a bit weathered and has been used for a long time, it is likely to be an antique. In addition, look for signs of repair or restoration, as this could indicate that the piece is an antique.

Check the Hardware

The hardware on antique furniture can also help you identify it. Look for hardware that is made of materials such as brass, iron, or steel. These materials were often used in antique furniture. Also, look for hardware that has a unique shape or design, as this could indicate that it is an antique piece.

Antique walnut wood rocking chair with detailed carvings

If you do discover early screws on the piece, examine the other aspects of the piece to see if they seem consistent with the aging of the screws. If the wooden furniture you are checking has screws with fully rounded shafts, pointy ends, and completely finished heads with matching cuts (much like the screws you might buy today), then the item is probably from the middle 19th century or later.

These are all helpful signs to help you identify that your antique furniture is most likely from an earlier era.

Look for a Maker’s Mark or Label

You can tell the time of manufacture for a piece by looking at maker marks on the antique furniture. Look for marks, such as labels, stamps, or signatures of the maker.

You can look for these on the bottom or back of the furniture piece. This could indicate that it was made by a specific craftsman or company. Also, researching the maker of the furniture can help you determine its age.

Check the Finish

If you look closely at the finish of the furniture it will give surely give you some clues. For instance, if it is an older piece of wooden furniture, the finish may be dull or have a patina. It may also have chips, scratches, or wear marks. Finishes on furniture made prior to 1860 are often shellac; if a piece is extremely old, furniture finishes might include oils, waxes, or milk paint.

Hand crafted antique wooden cabinet

An antique wooden piece of furniture is valued not only because of its age, but because of the elaborate carvings or fascinating adornments that set it apart from modern designs. Most pieces of antique wood furniture that you will come across are either traditional English Period, or American Colonial styles.

We hope these tips will help you accurately identify your antique furniture within a short period. With a little bit of research and some practice, you will soon begin to determine if a piece of furniture is genuine or a reproduction.

It is a perfect idea to have a piece of old furniture appraised, especially if the following tips on how to determine whether or not an antique furniture is valuable apply to your piece.

Experts at Appraisily can help you with an accurate appraisal.

Cited Sources

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *