FiF Mindset on repair vs restore

Although vigorous searching & careful inspection is done to ensure we source only sound items in great condition, sometimes upon closer inspection, not all things are as they once were & repair is required.

We deal in vintage and understand the appeal & authenticity that comes from years of use. That’s why we have strict rules around how & why we restore / repair / prepare items.

Below details the steps we take & the reasons why:

Items requiring preparation only:

If an item is fit for purpose & generally in great condition, we check to ensure it has many years of reliable function ahead and is without faults. Clean & give it some ‘TLC’’ and it’s ready to be loved again.

In our FiF ratings – these items are marked as:

  • Excellent Original Condition‘ – Top condition – reserved for those rare ‘As New’ finds
  • Good Original Condition‘ – Original piece in great condition. Fully functional
  • Vintage Condition‘ – Original piece in very good condition. NB. Any flaws, faults etc are noted under ‘Additional info

Item requiring repair:

When an item needs minor repairs but otherwise is in good original condition – these repairs are done by ourselves & 54 Five Six furniture, in some specialist cases, items are sent to partners for repair.

All repairs are done using high quality sustainable materials and if we are able to source original replacement parts – we do.

All repaired items are tested and checked again before being posted on our website for sale.

Checks & Repairs are specific depending on item type – these are:

Retro Lighting

All items are checked for faults & if required re-wired. Due to the fixed lighting types we stock, the woodwork, copper & brass is restored also.

All lighting is checked for electrical safety.

Lamps etc – items that are connected via a plug socket are also independently tested and bear a ‘Test & Tag’ label.

Note that in the case of fixed lighting – these must be installed & certified by a registered electrician.

Audio Equipment

These are tested for longer durations, the minimum testing period is one month where we try to use the item 2-3 times a week. During this process they are also cleaned & checked for any faults.

Turntables – rubber belts are replaced. Where required silicon grease is carefully removed & replaced with graphite grease. Cartridges & stylus are replaced if required.

Amplifiers – these are checked and measured using an oscilloscope to ensure the channels are balanced correctly – this is also an excellent method of picking up any faults (dry capacitors etc) that without sophisticated test equipment could go unnoticed.

Speakers – foam surrounds are replaced if required. We source specific replacement kits from the USA for each speaker manufacturer & model type, as each have unique dimensions, angles etc. We pay particular care to centralizing voice coils – again this requires sophisticated equipment.

Cabinetry & woodwork – wood aesthetic in audio gear is a specialty – these are refinished in the same manner as with furniture restoration – enhancing our items greatly.

Audio equipment is independently tested for electrical safety and bears a ‘Test & Tag label.


Furniture items that appear in good shape are checked thoroughly for any condition issues.

Construction & Joints – all structure & loose joints are inspected. cleaned and repaired if required.

Finish is checked and in some cases restored with oils, however this is when the item is already in good order and refinishing would not greatly improve the item.

In our FiF ratings – these items are marked as:

  • Excellent Condition‘ – Top Condition. Fully functioning, without faults condition
  • Great Condition‘ – Great condition. Fully functioning condition NB. Any flaws etc are noted under ‘Additional info’
  • Good Condition‘ – Great operational condition. NB. Any flaws, faults etc are noted under ‘Additional info’

Items for restoration:

For some items, if the finish is flawed but generally the item is sound, these are the items we restore. Taking great care to retain character and achieve an excellent finish.

All joinery is checked – if required we open the joint, clean & repair using specialized gluing compounds. Providing joinery is of good quality and without structural issues these are able to be repaired to like new condition.

We use high quality finishes – wipe on or ‘spray on’ polyurethane for tables & chairs etc as this looks beautiful on hardwoods, and provides great protection against moisture & wear.

For some items we prefer Danish Oils as these present hardwoods so beautifully, but oils will not protect surfaces as polyurethane does, so this finish is generally used for decorative pieces only.

In our FiF ratings – these items are marked as:

  • Excellent Restored Condition” – Top Condition. Item refinished & structurally strong.
  • Restored Condition” – Great condition. Item refinished & structurally strong. Nb. Any flaws are noted under ‘Additional info’

Item requiring re-upholstery:

Upholstery is often tired and in need of complete replacement.

We use NZ Wool fabrics from Interweave or international fabrics from Warwick, James Dunlop & others.

For seating we check & replace (if required ) jute strapping, foam, springs, & trunk plates (metal pieces that springs attach to). We use Dunlop foam from their Avondale factory.

In our FiF ratings – these items are marked as:

  • “New Upholstery” – Any items that have been re-upholstered. Details work done & fabric used noted under ‘Additional info’

Currently in our repair shop – “Coming Soon” items:

Often you’ll see items on our site marked as ‘Coming Soon’ this provides a chance to get in touch with FiF and determine the finish & fabric required prior to restoration work being done.