Family history 'traced' in furniture

Hitting furniture with a hammer to make it more personal (as a manufacturer suggests in the story at right) may sound a bit odd. But anyone who even occasionally wanders into an antique shop realizes that people have been altering furniture for years.

Sneaky folks have added "worm holes," a few dents, or different drawer pulls in order to make a dresser or table seem older - and more valuable - than it is.

But just about everyone has furniture that's been unintentionally altered and thus personalized. If I were in a huge warehouse of household goods and had to identify which pieces were mine, it would be easy.

A massive Empire chest is notable for the faint outline of one of my sons' boyhood scribbles on its soft pine top. It happened when he was signing his name on a piece of paper with a ballpoint pen, not realizing how hard he was pressing. It would be simple to sand it out, but it's still there.

A three-inch slit in the back of a leather wing chair is hardly noticeable, I tell myself when dusting. It resulted when an indoor touch football game got a little too exuberant.

Some people have cat-scratched sofas. At my house, we have dog-chewed rocking chairs and wooden file cabinets - the latter reminding us of a high-spirited bulldog puppy named Tuffy.

I can also tell you how that unusual-shaped scratch got into the top of the dining-room table and where that white ring on an end table came from.

I obviously don't need a sledgehammer to personalize my furniture - everyday living has done the job for me.

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(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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