Chai Kai – the art of structural repairs

拆开 (Chāi kāi) essentially means to “take apart” and people often don’t realize that when you restore a piece of Chinese antique furniture, usually in addition to carefully cleaning it, it also usually must be taken apart and entirely refitted back together. Since Chinese furniture rarely uses nails, and instead uses a complex system of pegs and joints, the item can be completely disassembled, with the pieces spread out over the workshop floor.

Dirt, dirt and more dirt – cleaning a late Ming table via wet sand as part of the antique restoration process

restoring chinese antiques - wet sanding

Recently we restored a late Ming dynasty square table from Shanxi province. Beautiful table and I thought it might be interesting to show the images of the cleaning process occurs which primarily involves a careful wet sand. Known in Chinese as 打水磨, its a unavoidable part of any antique restoration. What a nasty mess! Removing about […]

Hidden beauty: Careful cleaning reveals beautiful color on this Chinese antique sideboard from Shanxi

Chinese shifu scholar

You never really know what you will find when you start on restoration of an antique. Experience helps but its nevertheless often times more art then process. Since some customers, particularly those in the know, prefer to select antique pieces in un-restored form, which while exciting and educating, can present some tricky problems for the […]

A to Z: Restoring chinese wood carvings, wooden screens and carved architectural elements.

When a Chinese traditional homes is demolished  to make way for the new, elements like antique window screens, carved panels & screens and other architectural elements are typically salvaged to be reborn as decorative items in modern homes. Thinking about adding such a piece of history to your collection?  Here’s a quick look at the […]

Restoring a Chinese mahjong table with a bit of pyrotechnics!

I get so backed up with blog posts, because there is so many interesting and fascinating things to see and talk about. And being detailed oriented, I really want to spend the time to talk about each item in detail, the history behind it, where it comes from and all the other details that make […]

Furniture Repairs: Improper restoration causes this “Old Shanghai” table-top to buckle and split

(Click images to enlarge)  Question: A reputable local beijing based antique Chinese furniture dealer sold us this nice Chinese table. It cracked a few months after getting it.  He has his own shop to produce furniture as well as sell antiques. I am sending you 3 photos, 1 of each side of the table, and […]