Have you ever wanted to learn how to repair or refinish a treasured family table or re-cane the seat on your grandmother’s antique chair? This could be just the opportunity you’ve been looking for and it’s available to you free of charge for just your investment of time.

The Federated Church of Sturbridge and Fiskdale’s auction committee has put out a call for volunteers to help with preparations for next year’s 70th Annual Antique Auction. Beginning on Monday, November 5, and continuing through the winter, members of the committee will meet in Fellowship Hall from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. to begin the year-long task of repairing and refurbishing the many items of furniture to be placed on the auction block next August.

Committee member and expert furniture restorer, Tim Bardsley says the Monday night work sessions provide a wonderful opportunity for local residents interested in learning these skills. “Repairing and refinishing antiques, and doing it right, is a lost art,” says Bardsley. “The members of our group have been doing this for a very long time, though, and they are happy to pass along what they know.”

Bardsley says there are no restrictions on who may join the group. “Men and women, young and old, everyone is welcome,” Bardsley notes. “We can teach folks refinishing techniques from simple to complex. We’ll show them the best stains to use and how to apply them, how to seal the finish and how to protect against water stains. We can show them how to cane a chair and how to make repairs.”

“The only thing we ask is that the volunteer use the skills we teach them to refurbish a piece of furniture for the auction before putting their new skills to work on their own furniture at home,” he adds.

The auction committee is also accepting donations of antique furniture, individual pieces or entire estates, for inclusion in next year’s sale. Auction committee members include Tim Bardsley, Ken Benson, Pat Hilton, Ray Simpson, Bob Cordell and Brian Rhea. For more information, please call the Church office at (508) 347-3915 or email

Now known as the longest annually held church auction in the nation, the Federated Church of Sturbridge and Fiskdale’s Antique Auction, is held under tent on the second Saturday in August on the historic Sturbridge Common across from the landmark Publick House Historic Inn. Next year’s auction, the 70th annual, is slated for Saturday, August 10, 2019.