Things to Look for When Looking for Second Hand Furniture
1. Dovetail Drawers
We love to see furniture pieces with dovetail drawers. Chances are if the drawers are dovetail the piece is:
A. Solid wood
B. Well constructed
C. Going to last another 15+ years
That being said - it is not a deal breaker for us if the furniture pieces do not have dovetail joints. It's also not a sure thing that we will purchase just because it is dovetail. It is simply just one of the tools we use for determining what a piece is worth to us.
DOVETAIL DRAWER WOOD STAPLED DRAWER
2. Solid Wood or Heavy Duty Wood Particle Board
We love our wood dressers. Even if that wood isn't in perfect condition. There are sooooo many options for refinishing if the piece is solid wood. Also acceptable, but often leaving us with less refinishing options, are the old wood particle board furniture with a wood veneer top (depending on the condition these pieces can be just a great as solid wood pieces) and laminate surface if we plan to have them be fully painted pieces. (We tend to shy away from laminate top tables)
A quick easy way to check what a piece is made of is to check it out from the back side where things are often left unfinished.
COMBO WOOD EDGE W/ PARTICLE BOARD TOP SOLID WOOD DRESSER
3. Check Out that Body
When purchasing used furniture to refinish try not to look at the original finish too much. Outdated finishes, minor scrapes and scratches, even small gauges can all be covered up. What you should be paying attention to are the lines of the piece. Scrolling legs, intricate detail, and even the subtle lines of an MCM piece are whats going to make the piece POP when refinished.
Most times you've got to look past the outdated finishes and clunky hardware to see the beauty.
4. Severe Damage
Be sure to check the ENTIRE piece out. Walk all the way around it, noting any major damage such as peeling veneer, major water marks, deep gouges and scratches. Check to see if it wobbles or is sturdy. Pull the drawers out and check the slides. Some damage can be an easy fix while other damage can cut into your budget pretty quick. A good rule of thumb is a couple small issues, like a good sized scratch and a missing piece of hardware, should be a relatively easy fix. But if every other drawer slide is broken, the veneer is all peeling off, and the dresser is wobbly as all get out....RUN.....unless you are a professional you are most likely in over your head.
5. Price Check
Just because it's old DOES NOT mean it is valuable. With online market places like Craigslist, Facebook, and Ebay all a phone screen away you can easily search for similar pieces and see if the price one person is asking is in the ballpark with what others are also asking. If it is a piece for yourself and you've been searching forever for it, you may end up paying a little more. If you are looking for pieces to flip and resell try to keep your costs low but don't stray away from quality.