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Meet Jeff “JQ” Hester, Page Bouncer & Antique Furniture Refurbisher

Meet Jeff “JQ” Hester, Page Bouncer & Antique Furniture Refurbisher
Photos: Stephen Jackson / Hoodline
By Stephen Jackson - Published on July 02, 2014.
Although you probably recognize him as a bouncer at The Page for the past eight years, JQ has a much deeper passion, and it’s very different from standing sentry at your local watering hole. In fact, it’s arguably the exact opposite of holding down the door at a very busy bar.
And just what might that be, you ask? JQ restores and reupholsters antique furniture out of a studio in his garage, and he’s quite good at it, too. We caught up with him the other day to chat about his background, the neighborhood and, most of all, furniture.
 
Where are you from and how did you get here?
 
“I’m originally from Detroit. Fifteen years ago I was in LA doing real estate and my job moved me up here. I got burned out, so I took on some other work. I used my photography, upholstery and restoration skills and became self-employed.”
 
How did you get into furniture restoration?
 
I learned at a company in Atlanta, Georgia. I took a job at an upholstery company, and I became the best guy there. I was able to take courses through the job and afterwards I moved back to Detroit, but it wasn’t for me, so I moved to LA. I was doing restoration work along with real estate down there.
 
How many pieces of furniture do you think you’ve restored?
 
“I’ve been doing this for 28 years. I’d say more than 500 pieces.”
 


That chair is pretty impressive. How long did it take you to finish that project?
 
“It took over a month to do this one (above). With the chair being from 1920, you have to be very delicate. The thing about antique furniture is that you don’t make it look new, you bring it back to life. I’m not into redesigning things, I like to bring them back to life. That’s my goal.”
 


What’s the oldest piece of furniture you’ve worked on?
 
“A chair from the turn of the century. Well, also, check this baby here (points to old chair above). I’m doing some research right now to figure out what style and time period this is from so I can restore it properly. I’m going to recondition the leather and remove those buttons so I can tighten it up for a better fit.”
 
Any advice for someone interested in antique furniture or furniture in general?
 
“Look under the bottom. If you see too many staples in it, you probably don’t want it, since it was most likely just thrown together."
 
What’s your specialty when it comes to restoration?
 
"I have a special technique—that I don’t share with people—for bringing the grain back in old wood."
 


What are you working on currently?
 
"These are actually the tables from The Page. I’ve stained all the tables over there. Right now I’m removing the existing stain so I can re-do it."
 
How many coats does something like that take?
 
"That’s a funny question because all wood is different. Some can take one, others will take several coats. The longer you let a stain sit, the better. This is an older table, so I’m not trying to do a lot to it. Leaving the character is always good. Another secret about staining wood is to use Pledge. I’ll remove all the layers and then I’ll put Pledge on it. Then I let it dry, stain it, and put a polyurethane coat on it. If you do that, drops of water will sit right on top of it. Next time you see this table, it’s going to look just like ice."
 
You work at The Page. What’s your take on how the neighborhood has changed over the past several years?
 
“I must say the neighborhood seems to be growing, but to me not much has changed. People are people. I see more people at the bar now, that’s for sure, and I see different kinds of people, but they are all just coming in to drink and have a good time. But you can also tell they are from somewhere else. I mean, people sometimes have too much to drink, but I’m not into escalating situations and I’m not into embarrassing people. If someone’s had too much, I’ll just take them aside. I guess I will say that people are less sociable than they used to be. But I have a way of fixing that … I call it my ‘sweet screw’. I get people to be more friendly in a way they can absorb it and laugh about it.”
 
What’s your favorite kind of furniture and why?
 
“I like them all, but I like the wingback chair the most. When I see it, it reminds me of myself. I think the chair looks grounded, but to other people it may look complicated. The thing is, I know it’s not.”
 
Why do you do enjoy restoring furniture?
 
“I love it! It gives me peace. It’s a relaxing thing for me. It puts me in a very relaxed state. It’s like the opposite of being a bouncer. As you can see, when I’m working here, no one is bothering me. I also really like finishing a piece and seeing the look on the client’s face. I guess there’s really just something I enjoy about bringing something back to life."
 
Say hello to JQ next time you're at The Page, and if you are interested in enlisting JQ’s furniture services, you can email him at jaquapr {at} yahoo {dot} com.