Woodwork Appraisal

Woodwork Appraisal Prerequisites

The art of appraisal means being able to determine something’s overall value after careful scrutiny and analysis. It is often associated with jewelry and antique dealers, who study rare and valuable items in an effort to determine what buying price those items may garner from collectors.

While there are also antique woodwork collectors, learning the necessary skills for antique woodwork appraisals isn’t something you can learn overnight or even in a simple short course. It is something you need to become familiar with and gain only through practical application and experience.

Woodwork Appraisal
Woodwork Appraisal

However, it IS possible, with a keen eye and a few prerequisite skills, to at least be able to appraise regular woodwork. This form of appraisal doesn’t really involve determining an item’s price with collectors, but rather a more practical type of analysis which will allow you to determine an item’s structural integrity and durability. Here are a few prerequisite skills and background knowledge you’ll want to study if you intend to try your hand at woodwork appraisal.

Carpentry – at least a basic level of competence in carpentry as well as general woodworking is a must for woodwork appraisal. While some would argue that it is not a “hard”, or necessary prerequisite, skills in working with wood are essential if you’re going to be analyzing items made from it. This involves knowledge not only in working with modern power tools to render pieces of furniture, but in working with more old fashioned manual tools like straight edged and curved saws, hammers, pegs, planes, wood rasps and files, and chisels.

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Knowledge of Wood Types – Another prerequisite skill you’ll need is at least a good working knowledge of the different types of wood used in item construction, from hardwoods like oak, cedar, and mahogany, to softer woods and more exotic ones as well like balsa and bamboo. Different types of wood from different regions all have their own unique qualities that make them appropriate for some types of woodwork but lousy for others. For example, coconut wood, known in the Philippines as Bahi, is a heavy fibrous wood type that splinters when broken instead of shattering like some hardwoods are prone to do. It is extremely resinous and resilient, making it an ideal choice for woodworking requiring linear pieces, but it’s fibrous nature makes it lousy working material for making statues, carvings, and other things which require a lot of oblique angles cut into the grain of the wood.

Knowledge of Woodworking Craft Types – aside from knowing how to work with wood and the different types of woods you can work with, you should do background studies on all of the different ways wood can be rendered into items. Don’t focus on the most obvious and common applications of using wood like making furniture. Try researching the more artistic and esoteric types of woodworking, from making statues and murals, to toys, to musical instruments, to exotic weapons. Each of these different fields of woodworking will actually have their own unique needs in terms of woodworking skills and types of woods they’ll use for their rendered pieces. Knowing these little nuances can help you in appraising the quality of a piece of woodwork.

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Forums and gatherings – you should also check out woodworking and antique collector forums on the internet to find out what’s in demand. Going in person to conventions also helps you expand your knowledge base. If you decide to take up woodwork appraisal as something more than just a hobby, knowing the different standards set by collectors and the prices they’ll be willing to pay for certain pieces will help you turn a quick profit if you can locate the items they require.

Bargain Hunting Knowledge – lastly, on the assumption that you decide to use your appraisal skills to turn hefty profits with collectors, it never, ever hurts to know where to cheaply acquire the things they’ll be looking for. More often than not, foreign countries have specialist woodworkers that produce relatively cheap and high quality items that can be resold for more than five times their purchase price in the United States. For example, bamboo dining and sleeping mats from certain asian countries can be bought for under a dollar each in their local markets. Enterprising individuals travel to these places and buy the mats cheap, then they resell them for over 10 dollars in the United States, where people still count this price a bargain.

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