Antique stores are a good place to find furniture to refinish, but expect to pay for these pieces.If you're interested in antiques, recent or old, research before you buy anything.Drawers (and backs) are also usually one of the cheapest components in furniture. Most modern pieces—even high-quality reproductions that look very genuine on the outside—use plywood in drawer construction.The logic behind this move is simple: why waste expensive, solid wood (which has to be carefully treated and cured) on the inside of a drawer?Shellack finishes were very often quite thick (up to a quarter inch!), so that’s another—albeit slightly more difficult—indicator to look for. Basically, if you’re serious about knowing whether your piece is antique, compare it to similar pieces that claim to be antique.Phillips screws are a 20th-century invention, so if your piece is supposed to be from the 18th century but has Phillips screws, they have either been added in a recent restoration or it’s a fake. If your piece has drawers, take a drawer out and look at how the handles are attached on the inside of the drawer.
This isn’t to say that antique finishes can’t be shiny and reflective, but they’re not going to be high gloss, either.
Real antiques and many reproductions are extremely valuable, but there are also many imitations.
If you aren't sure an antique is really antique, pay for an expert opinion.
When you want to refinish old wooden furniture, the best place to look is the family storeroom: Check the attic, basement, garage, or wherever unwanted furniture has collected.
You may also discover a real antique or two -- pieces handed down through the family for generations.