All You Need to Know About Chinese Furniture

All You Need to Know About Chinese Furniture

How to identify antique Chinese furniture ?

To find Chinese antique furniture, antique stores are a perfect place, but do detailed researches before you buy anything. Original antique pieces are very valuable, but you may find it hard to recognize real pieces from fake ones with so many realistic copies. Here are some easy ways to find Chinese antique furniture.

Machine Cut

Machine-cut Chinese furniture was made after 1860. If there are drawers in the furniture pieces, remove one and check carefully where the front and back of the drawers are safe to the sides of the drawers. The handicrafts of the Dovetails almost refer to an ancient piece that was made before 1860. Also, take a closer look at the bottom, back, and drawers sides. If the wood shows cuts, it may be a cut with a drawknife, plane, or spokeshave. Straight saw marks also refer to an antique piece of furniture. If the wood has circular marks or is arc-shaped, it indicates that wood was cut by a circular saw (which was not used until 1860).


Handmade furniture, rugs, slates, rockers, spindles, and other components are not the same size. Monitor these small parts carefully as it is not always easy to find differences in shape or size. Remember that antique piece is not perfectly cut at all.


The wood finishing is another sign to determine the age of the piece. Old furniture finishes are usually shellac (if the object is enough old, it could be wax, milk, or oil paint). Antique furniture is often French polished. Finish testing is recommended but not always possible. With denatured alcohol, you can test the finishing of the piece. If the finish gets dissolved, it's shellac which means the finishing is not antique. If the piece is painted, just test it with ammonia, as very old items are painted with milk paint which is only be removed with ammonia. If the piece is enough dirty, clean it with a mixture of kerosene.


The wood of Chinese furniture helps to determine either the Chinese furniture is antique. Furniture made before 17th century is mostly made of oak. Walnuts and mahogany have been widely used since that time. But since these woods have always been preferred for making pieces of furniture, finishing and craftsmanship of the wood indicate the age of the wood.

How to value Chinese furniture

The value of antique furniture depends on various factors:


The older the Chinese furniture is, the more valuable it will be. It may have a historical value, it may be in very good condition, or it may have an amazing patina. To determine the age of Chinese furniture you need to consider three factors: style, craftsmanship, and wood.


Style helps to determine the authenticity and value of a piece. There are two basic shapes in classical Chinese furniture: between the top and the apron pieces without inset panels, and pieces with inset panels. The waistless furniture existed in the Shang Dynasty and the Chow Dynasty and is very old. Much later waisted furniture came into existence. In many paintings of the Ming dynasty, the interiors were very simple. Ming designs are not complex, usually with a basic outline of the form consisting of simple curves and straight lines. Common features include horse hoof feet, giant arm braces, spreading arms, ice plate edges, etc. Usually, Qing designs are more complex, with many small elements and carved decoration.


To determining the furniture value craftsmanship is an important factor. The level of craftsmanship is measured by examining the details, the joints' accuracy and the fluidity, complexity (or simplicity), and dynamics of the piece. In different periods, craftsmen used a variety of techniques, which gets changed every 40 to 50 years.


In furniture, lacquer and tumbler are the most widely used materials, with lacquer techniques significantly affecting the piece value. Other materials used include marble, stone, bone, shell, ivory, coral, pearl, gold leaf, or various metals. Everything else is the same, the harder the tumbler is, the valuable the furniture.

What kind of wood is Chinese furniture made from?

Ming furniture is made of many materials, including stone, wood, and other materials. The wood used in Chinese furniture is usually hardwood, such as rosewood, chicken wing wood, huanghuali, red sandalwood, beech, and cassia siamea.

How to restore Chinese black lacquer furniture

You can restore Chinese black lacquer furniture by following these steps:

  • Clean it with a soft and dry cloth and remove dust from the piece.
  • With a scratch-remover marker paint it on any minor scratches.
  • Examine the scratched area and if it is not covered properly, continue with the following steps:
  • Combine the padding lacquer with the blending powder to match the color of the piece
  • Wet a small piece of cheesecloth with the mixture and test it. Let the mixture dry and check the color.
  • With the appropriate color cover the affected area. Use cheesecloth piece again to apply the mixture.
  • Let the furniture dry for 12 to 24 hours. Now examine the piece and if it is still light, apply a second coat of blending powder and padding lacquer

How to clean Chinese lacquer furniture

Start with a small section and spray the solvent-based furniture cleaner lightly on a dry rag and clean it. Wipe it off immediately with a damp cloth and then with a dry cloth dry the area. Working on little sections, repeat this process, until lacquer is cleaned.

How to restore Chinese rosewood furniture

On top of the gum or wax, place an ice cube for one minute. Remove stains with your fingers and remove any excess water to prevent water stains. Remove any excess wax or gum with a thin object to prevent scratches. With a soft cloth apply cream wax on the spot and repeat if needed. Repair and hide scratches with paste wax made for rosewood furniture. Apply wax to a soft terry cloth towel.

Apply paste wax to those parts of rosewood furniture that have grayish, hazy, and white rings. Rub the furniture part with a fine steel wool pad. Using a cloth, rub the spot with camphorated oil, and with a separate clean cloth wipe it immediately. In warm water with a few drops of ammonia, dip a piece of cheesecloth, wring tightly, and rub lightly on the affected area. Put a thick mark on the spot and press repeatedly with a hot iron until the spot is clear.

Wipe off any spills with perfume overspray by using a damp cloth. If the stain is older, apply a few drops of household ammonia to a damp cloth and rub lightly on the spot. Then apply wax. To remove excess burn marks, in the paint cleaner dip a cotton swab and lightly scrub the affected area. Fill the area with one or two drops of nail polish and let it dry. Apply a few more drops until the area is balanced and allow the nail polish to dry completely before applying a new coat.