I admire my auto mechanic who loves to listen to my engine and can immediately diagnose a multitude of issues.
Your furniture can also make sounds that a knowledgeable furniture restorer can use to diagnose issues with your antique or contemporary pieces.
DRAWERS – On older pieces, it is not unusual for the drawers to generate a ‘bump,’ ‘scraping’ or ‘squealing’ sound when that drawer just seems to be too large for its space. Taken in order, the bump is not unusual to hear and feel on older pieces when you close the last one-inch of the drawer. If the drawer drops slightly, pull it out and look at the drawer runners. Putting a straight edge no the drawer runner and corresponding side will reveal whether this is an issue. More than likely, they are worn due to years of use.
Scraping can best be identified by inspecting the worn areas inside the drawer. Is there a stop block? Are the runners or friction tabs loose? Is there a nail that has worked itself loose? The cause of the squeal for an ill-fitting drawer can usually be narrowed down to one of two issues. The first is determining whether the furniture was recently moved within the house or across country? If yes, humidity change may be the problem. A heating vent in close proximity or time away from the home which has changed the heat and air conditioning environment can also cause significant movement in the wood.
The second fix for that drawer which doesn’t fit can be simple to find. Just swap out drawer with another like-size drawer in the same piece. Drawers and their corresponding slots in the same piece may not be exactly alike.
CABINET DOORS – The scraping of the top or bottom of the door is easy to identify. The first step is the inspection. Are the hinges secure? When you open the door and lift up, is there any give? Are the door frames tight? Assuming these items can be ruled out, close the doors and step back a few feet and look at the gap around the door. It is even? Do all the doors have the same gap? Get a partner to help with the next step. Lift up one corner of the cabinet while having someone eyeball the gap. Did this help or hurt? If it got worse, lift up the other corner. If this changes the ‘square’ of the cabinet, you need to level it. This could be as easy as unscrewing an existing foot that offers this option or adding a shim to a foot.
The cabinet rattle which occurs when a door is closed is usually the fault of the glass on the door or a glass panel on the back which has come loose. Many times a wobbly shelf can cause this. Inspect the million and fasteners around the glass panels.
CHESTS AND TRUNKS – As with many older pieces, things get out of whack. This is due to wear, joints working themselves loose or hardware that is not tight or has been replaced with the wrong size screws.
BEDS – Most problems with beds can be narrowed down to the side rails not being secured to the headboard or footboard. The simple fix for the loose rails, assuming the hardware is secure, is to shim out the rails. It is not unusual to find rail brackets broken. They would need to be replace. Some antique beds use a non-standard size antique frame just doesn’t work. Most mattress stores will accommodate orders for custom sized mattresses at a higher price. The alternative is to modify the size of the rails, headboard and footboard. We not only have modified bed frames to accommodate a mattress, we have converted double frames to queen size, and queens to kings.