Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Unpleasant Bug Surprise

We had an unpleasant discovery while working on this Oak Dining Table.  The table top was stripped before we did any other work.   Once it was dry and we moved on to do the next repair steps we found that there was some dry rot on the underside.  -groan-   All those dark areas you see
(where the extension slides attach) are dry rot.
To deal with the dry rot we began to pull the damaged layer of veneer of the underside of the table.  All the veneer would need to be replaced instead of just the top surface as we had originally planned.  
As that veneer came off, it exposed another issue. Bug Damage!  Not good.  All that powdery stuff is the wood that has been eaten away by bugs.  Fortunately there aren't any living bugs still in the table.  But now we have to repair all the bug damage, as well as the dry rot damage.
As you can see in the picture, those were some busy bugs!   The odd thing about this table is that none of the bug damage was visible until the veneer came off.  It was all hidden between the veneer and the hardwood surface.  They really are fortunate that there was no bug damage to the top surface as well.    It is going to be quite a job to deal with all those bug canals, but never fear, the craftsmen are here to save the day.  Before you know it, this table will look amazing again and will be ready for many birthday, christmas, thanksgiving and easter celebrations to come!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Red Oak Veneer on a Dining Table

This is a section of table that we just finished working on.  The complete table came to us to be stripped and have the veneer repaired.  We did the stripping work just like we usually do.  Unfortunately the veneer on this table was in much worse shape than any of us could tell while the finish was still on. You can see in this top picture how the veneer around the edges was flaking and peeling away from the wood underneath.

We ended up needing to pull all of the veneer off the center panels and replace it.  We used a  Rift Cut Red Oak Flitch veneer. This is the same kind of veneer that was originally on the table top.  As you can see, the new veneer is much lighter in color than the old because it has not had time to age.  This color difference will have to be addressed in the finishing process.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Custom Color for Pine Table

This is a really interesting table.  It was brought to us by a welder for his clients.  The old farmhouse legs were removed and the welder was making a new bronze base.  Those four circles you see are going to be filled with bronze disks where the legs attach from underneath.   Choosing the stain color for this table was an interesting challenge.  The client wanted a color that would complement the metal base.  We tried quite a few colors, and then quite a few custom mixed colors before we found exactly what our customer wanted.  By the time we were done, the table looked like a quilt of color samples!

All of those color samples were then removed and we finished the entire table in the stain color that our customer settled on.  And it sure does look nice doesn't it?!?

Friday, January 4, 2013

Making a Cloth Hinge

I really enjoy working on all of the various trunks that come into our shop.  Each one is such a unique project that requires creativity and imagination.  I also like the sense of adventure that trunks have.  You know that they came from somewhere.  They went on some interesting journey, they have a story.

They also get pretty beat up while on that interesting journey.  This trunk was brought in to our shop by a young woman who's grandfather used while coming to America many many years ago.  It still has her family name scrawled across the top in yellow, and on a label on it's side.  The most significant 'beat up' area of this trunk was on it's tray. It was covered in cloth and the cloth was beginning to show signs of age.   We were able to repair much of the damage to the tray cloth and I am especially proud of the work we did on the cloth hinge.      The lid for the tray is made of two parts which fold back to reveal the inside.  The cloth fold had ripped so the lid was in two pieces.  Using new cloth and special glue, we made a new 'hinge' on the underside of the lid.  It is designed to lay flat when the lid is closed and then fold when it is open.  When it is closed, the hinge is completely invisible.  You can see the newly functioning lid hinge in the pictures below.

Friday, December 21, 2012

The Most Famous Carpenter

Our shop will be closing down for the next 11 days to allow us all to celebrate Christmas.  I was thinking today about how we are all craftsmen here,  workers of wood.  It is a very very old profession,  in fact old enough that Joseph raised his son Jesus as a carpenter.  I wonder what it would have been like being a carpenter all those centuries ago.  Would anything be the same?

Well, obviously the medium is the same - Wood.  Maybe we work with different species of wood or different ages of wood, but it is still wood.    They would have used Cedar, Poplar, Pine and Oak, just as we do today,  but we never see items made out of species such as Almugwood which was used to make the pillars on Solomon's Temple or  or Shittah which the Ark of the Covenant was made out of!

The tools used is what really makes me curious.  I wonder if  they were like Egyptian hand tools or more like the Roman hand tools as they were in power when Jesus was born, or possibly were they like the Greek hand tools?  Or the Persian hand tools?   Joseph and Jesus would have had access to axes, chisels, hand powered 'Drills', lathes, saws, planers and files but  I am sure all of those were quite a bit more primitive then we have now!

Some things haven't changed very much.  A chisel is still a chisel.  But the drill has certainly changed a whole lot!

Nearly 4,000 years ago, the Egyptians were using hide glue for their furniture adhesive.  This is proven by hairs found in Pharaoh's tombs and by stone carvings depicting the process of gluing different woods.  Hide glue is still in use today for wood gluing and we probably use it nearly once a week at our shop.   So that is another similarity.  But we do have many other glues now which work faster and create an almost permanent bond in fact we use a two-part Epoxy nearly every day.

Our ancient Israelite woodworkers Joseph and Jesus, have the wood to use, the tools to create their piece of furniture, the glue to hold it together, what might they have used to finish it with?  Here at our shop we use fancy water based stains and finishes, but I know they didn't have those in Jesus's day.  I do know that Tung Oil and Linseed Oil have been used as furniture finishes for a thousand years.  Perhaps they used an oiled finish? Tung Oil comes from the nuts of a Tung tree and Linseed Oil comes from pressed flax seeds.  We will still use both of these types of finishes when we do restoration work of an older piece.

So many things have changed since Jesus was born and Joseph taught him his trade, but so many things have stayed the same.  I love that someone so important that we still celebrate his birth hundreds of years later, began his life as a humble carpenter.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Reconfiguring a Newel Post

A longtime customer of ours brought this old Newel Post in to us for stripping and some modification.   In it's original location the stair rail wrapped around it in such a way that there were three places where the wood had to be cut to fit the rail.    

 In it's new home in our customer's house these cutouts in the wood would be very odd.  The post was also about 3 inches to tall.    Once the piece was stripped we cut three inches off the bottom of the post and saved this wood for the repairs on the top of the post.  
Using the wood we saved from the base, we filled the three voids on the top of the post.  This ensured that all the woods would match.  We wouldn't have new wood mixing with old wood.

These areas would have to go on the lathe to be shaped so we actually cut a portion of the decorative top off.  We had to be strategic about where we made this cut, so that it wasn't visible to the general viewer.  This means we needed to make the cut under one of the turned curves.
The Newel Post repairs turned out very well.  It will be much more functional in it's new space and could really be a centerpiece bit of architectural woodwork.

Friday, December 14, 2012

'Bird's Eye' Dresser Set

 This set of dressers looks like it has really taken a beating!  The tall dresser doesn't stand up straight and the drawers are completely falling apart. The short dresser isn't in much better condition.
 In addition the 'birds eye maple' veneer is flaking off of the sides of  both dressers and the tops of the dressers have water damage to the finish which is worn very thin.  These dressers needed a complete over haul.   They started out with having the old finish stripped off so that we could get down to the raw wood.  Once this happened we began on the extensive repairs.  All the drawer joints had to be taken apart and glued back together.  Some of the drawer bases were broken and needed to be replaced.   The drawer glides had to be worked on so that the drawers could slide in and out smoothly.
And then we have the veneer issues to deal with..
 The old veneer was so badly damaged that we had to replace it most of it on both of the dressers.  Both tops received new veneer treatment as well as the sides of both dressers.  Bird's Eye Maple veneer is a very high end veneer with namesake 'eyes' scattered all over creating a beautiful ribbony appearance.
Once the many repairs were done the dresser set was stained with a Honey Maple stain and finished with a Satin sheen finish.  While we would have put any color/sheen combination that our client wanted onto this set,  we are very happy they chose the way they did.  Honey Maple and Satin are truely the perfect combination to highlight the gorgeous Bird's Eye veneer.  We couldn't be more happy with how this set turned out.