Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Finishing Colors, the Customer's Choice

This set of chairs is such a beautiful example of the quality of finishing jobs we do here at the shop.   We stripped, prepped and re-finished this set and it came out beautifully.   They have a Fruitwood stain and a Satin finish.   I don't know how many of my readers have had furniture re-finished, but regardless, I think we have a pretty great system here, for making sure the color comes out just how you want it.  After the item is all stripped and prepped, and any repairs are done,  we ask you to come into the shop.  At that time you can choose colors and we will apply them for you in a test patch.  We can try as many colors as you like.  Once you decide which one you like, you can go home.  We then remove any unwanted color and stain the entire piece.  We end up with a winning look just about every time.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Great Repair, Amazing Color Work

 I am constantly amazed by the level of craftsmanship that comes from the people who work here at the shop.   Dave,  the Repair Craftsman fabricated this rocker, to replace the one that was missing.  Rockers are tough to duplicate because the curve on the bottom has to exactly match the original.  If they don't match perfectly then the person using the chair will be able to feel an un-even rock.

Once the piece was constructed though, it still had to be made to match the color of the original.  That is where Steve, the Master Craftsman steps in.   He did a very nice job.  Not only does the new match the old in color, but the distressing on the original that occurs with time was mimicked on the new!  This required fancy technique and an artistic eye.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Three projects, all using different skills

For those of you who read my post yesterday about 'stripped door art',  I wanted you to see how the door came out after the stripping process.  It needs to be sanded before it is stained or painted again, but this redwood came out very clean.  Especially considering how much paint was on this, I think it is pretty impressive!  We have people come in all the time who have started to strip the paint or finish off of their wood item and realized, it was a lot more work then they thought, or just not coming off as clean as they wanted.  So they bring it to us and we do the job right!

Another update for you,  the child's rocker project is coming along well.  The seat is all woven, and the back and base supports are wrapped.  We still have quite a way to go on this project but I can see it is going to look so good when it is done.

Back in the finishing booth we have a really nice dresser being completed.   The owner of the piece decided not to use a colored stain, and just let the wood's natural colors shine through.  So that is just what we did, and look how good it came out!  The dresser is made of Mahogany, which is the darker wood you see, and it has poplar trim throughout, which is the lighter wood you see.  Isn't it beautiful?  All it has on it is a natural stain which has little to no color.  I think it is fabulous.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Stripped Door Art

 Today is a stripping day at the shop.  About once a week we pull together all the items that need to be stripped and do it all in one day or afternoon.  Today a painted door is among those items.  I walked back there to see how the work was going and this is what I saw.  The door was being soaked in our stripping tray and the paint was coming up in bubbles off of the wood.
It almost looks like art to me.  If you look at it close, as in this picture the way the paint has scrunched up, creates all these interesting patterns.   What do you think?  Should I print it up and frame it?  Do you think I could put together a collection and make it into a gallery?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Before and After, some favorites of the past

This table has to be one of my favorite projects.  I don't know why it stands out for me above so many other wonderful projects we have worked on here at the shop.  But I remember it well.  This table came to us about 10 years ago.  It had this pretty floral Faux Finish painting on the top.  At the time, we did not have a Faux Finisher who could replicate the pattern, but instead of doing a 'boring' basic finish we added some really nice highlighting.  I think that highlighting is what makes this table stand out so much now.  The carving comes alive, and the table top has so much more dimension.

While I am reminiscing about great projects in our past, I had to bring this one up.  It is certainly unique and like the first project, the finish job we did, brought the features out much better than the original.  This Coffee table is made out of a very neat door.  It looks straight out of a King Arthur tale to me.  When the table came to our shop, it was dull and lifeless.  We stripped the table and re finished it.  With the framing a lighter color than the main door, there was new depth added and the details come alive, just as with the first table. 
We have so much fun working on unique projects like this.  It brings out the artist, the creative mind, the visionary in us.  What a great job, where you can let your creativity come out in such a productive way!  

Monday, November 15, 2010

Child's Seagrass Rocker

 Did you have a mini rocking chair when you were a kid?  I did.  Actually, I still have it.  I have a fondness for rocking chairs of all sorts, but children's rockers are just an entire different kind of wonderful, in my opinion.  This one came to us very, very beat up as you can see.  It is made of woven seagrass which is falling apart.  Fortunately we have a Furniture Weaver who is experienced with Seagrass and can put this delightful piece of furniture back together again.  And I mean, all the way back together!  The rocker is in bad enough shape that together with the owners the decision was made to have the chair completely disassembled and re-woven from the frame up.

Below you can see what we are starting with.  I will put more pictures up as the project progresses.   But in the meantime, how about you tell us about the rocker you had as a child?

Friday, November 12, 2010

19th Century chairs, back in beautiful shape again!

This beautiful set of chairs from the late 19th century has actually been featured on this blog  several times. But now the job is completed and I want to show you the highlights of what we did.  When the set originally came to us,  all four chairs needed to be refurbished, but the arm chair had much more work to be done.  The frame of wood that the upholstery would be attached to had at some point been cut out from this chair.  We needed to re-build it.  That meant taking the chair apart.
When we did that, we discovered that the chair seat that remained was severely cracked.  We could tell there had been a prior attempt at a repair, but that it had already failed.  The wood pretty much shredded as the chair was disassembled.  Our very artistic Repair Craftsman drew the sketch below which shows all the different pieces which came apart and had to be carefully put back together like a puzzle.  You can also see the seat once it was all finished,  you can't even see the repairs!  You can also see here the un-stained wood frame we created for the upholstery to attach to.

Now are you ready?  Here is the beautiful completed set! All re-furbished, and repaired.  This set had truly beautiful detailing even before we worked on it,  now it has a beautiful finish to match the beautiful details.  To see past posts we have done on this set, click on the links provided at the bottom of this post.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Completed Look at a Fabrication Job

 A few posts back I showed you a fabrication project we have been working on here at the shop.  Here you can see the new leg we have made, alongside the leg it needs to match.  I think our Repair Craftsman did a pretty good job!  But after his work was finished,  it was time for our Color Man to step in.  Good woodworking skills are a must, but without the new leg matching the old, we really couldn't consider the job to be 'well done'.

I think that I can say with confidence though, that this is a job well done.  Our Color Man did an exelent job matching the colors, giving the stain a textured, older feel and generally making the replacement blend in with the piece as whole.  I quizzed him about just what he did to get this particular leg looking this good and he was happy to tell me, to a point.  He said he stained it, sealed it, glazed it, used 2-3 different colors of toners, then top coated it.   That seems like quite a lot of steps to me, but i guess it worked because it sure turned out well!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Amazing Asian Joinery on an Opium Bed

We have been very excited to be working on a unique piece of furniture here at the shop.  This 'Opium Bed' is being restored to it's previous glory, and it is presenting to us craftsmen some interesting insights into asian woodwork.

 As we have disassembled this piece we have discovered some amazing joinery unlike anything we have seen before.  These intricate joints are so well cut and carefully thought out that they stay together securely without any glue! The joints were hand cut with extreme precision, in various interlocking styles.
 There are also tiny wedges which fitted into some of the joints for extra security.  These wedges were also hand cut to fit exactly.
 This bed has been traced back as far as Hong Kong, but once it was brought to California the different weather conditions caused the wood to shrink slightly. Thus some of the joints have loosened.

 This bed has undergone previous 'repairs' in an attempt to tighten the joints where the wood shrunk, and unfortunately the previous repair job included screws and some amount of glue.  We are hoping to be able to re-repair the bed using only minimal amounts of Hide Glue in spots and eliminate the screws altogether.
When looking at this bed, one of the remarkable things (to us) is how advanced these joints are compared to the European and American Joinery of the same age, which look primitive next to the Asian joinery.  We wonder if the Dovetail joints which began to be used in America in the late 1700's  were based off of Asian woodwork.  I imagine the woodworker from America who first saw this kind of craftsmanship had his eyes opened and his imagination expanded in a big way

Monday, November 8, 2010

From Ugly to Bare to Beautiful!

 This is one set of chairs I am very happy to see stripped.   A refurbishing job just wouldn't be enough to make these chairs look their best because the finish is old and worn.  But in addition, the stain is very dated.  Some stains have a timeless quality to them, well I should say most stains have a timeless quality to them, but we went through a period during the last century where furniture makers were doing 'fancy' things to the stains (think gold flecks, or black 'distressing')  which really gave the furniture an era-recognizable look.  This set of chairs is a good example.

 The good thing is, that old, dated finish is gone!  We just got done stripping it off  and now the beautiful, clean wood is visible again.  Now, I wonder what the owners will choose for the new stain and finish?

Another interesting little project going on at the shop today is this cute little Tilt-Top table.   Here you can see we have stripped it and prepped it for staining.   When we stripped it originally we discovered one of the legs was a replacement. It had been pore-filled with a white medium which, thankfully, is gone now. It turns out whomever replaced it used honduras mahogany, a light colored mahogany instead of an african mahogany like the rest of the table.

Today, the table received this stain in a Cognac color.  I find this stain to be such a nice medium brown with the slightest red tint, that it works well on a large number of projects.  The new leg looks much closer to the old legs, and even though it isn't a perfect match, the customer decided it was close enough for her to be happy with it.  This little table will be getting a Semi-Gloss finish later on this week.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Foam Glue repair VS Epoxy Glue repair

We began working on re-gluing a rocker back onto it's chair today.  The leg had split and was unable to keep the rocker section secure.   When we took the split leg apart to repair it, we discovered that someone had tried to do the job before us.   The hole was filled with a foam glue.  Just a note to all you do-it-yourselfers out the there,  please do not attempt to fix your wood problems with foam glue.  You will just end up giving yourself a headache and bringing it to us to fix in the long run.
We have re-glued this chair leg with a very strong epoxy glue which will pretty much last forever.  The repair can end up almost seamless because the glue is strong without taking up very much space.   There is a small section of wood that is missing, so we will need to fill that.  We can fill it with wood, which will require some very careful fitting, we can fill it with a putty, but that will not end up as strong, or we can fill it with straight epoxy after the rocker is fitted back on.  Any way we choose to go we will then have to color match the fill area.  

We would love to hear about any projects you have going on, or answer questions for you!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Disassembly of a Great Little Desk

This little desk has us a bit stumped as to it's age.   I has some Mission Style elements on the front, which would put it about 1900- 1920, but the knobs are from the 19th century. Perhaps someone found some neat old knobs to replace the original ones?   Regardless of it's age,  it is certainly cute.  Today we disassembled it, so that it can go through the stripping process.  It is going to get a nice new finish later on.  Funny thing about this desk,  when it came to us, it had an old fashioned pencil sharpener screwed into one side.   I am guessing that it must have been used by student at some point.  I think when I was a kid, I would have had quite a bit of fun working at and old desk like this.  But I probably would have spent so much time imagining fantastic tails of older times that I  wouldn't have gotten much school work done.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Historical Stain on Late 19th Century Chairs

Today at the shop our Master Renewalist is working on a set of chairs from the late 19th century.  They have already been worked on by our Repair Craftsman who had to do some serious rebuilding on the armchair.  Now they are being refurbished.  We began this process by giving the set a thorough cleaning job to get all the old grime off.  Unfortunately the finish was so weak that we lost quite a bit of the color along with the grime.  So we are now applying new color with a solvent based stain which is a historical reproduction of what was put on these chairs originally.   Over that, we will apply a modern water based finish coat which will give a good, durable protection to the wood and color.  Once this work is done, the chairs will go to Allied Upholstery for that last step.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

More very nice Fabrication work

The last post I put up was about a nice curved chest leg which we fabricated for a lovely chest.  So I thought I would continue that theme with another fabrication job we just completed.   This poor rocking chair was out of commission because it was missing one of it's rockers.   Rockers are tricky because the curve of the rocker on any individual chair tends to be different than the curve on another chair.  If both were missing we could just order a set of new rockers and attach them,  but if we order just one and attach it, then you end up with two different curves.   So we had to fabricate a new rocker from scratch and have it exactly mimic the curve of the old.   Here it has been attached and just needs to be colored to match.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Beautiful Leg Fabrication for a Chest

This leg belongs to a lovely chest, which had lost one of it's own original ones. The chest has delicate mother-of-pearl inlay on the front drawer and very nice veneer work overall. It was a pity that the leg was missing! So we went to work making a duplicate leg, so that the chest would not only be functioning, but visually appealing as well. Here you can se our fabrication in two different stages. The first photo still has pencil marks all over to help guide our craftsman's hands. The second photo is almost completed, it still needs to be attached and colored to match the rest of the chest. I wonder if you would be able to tell me which leg was new, and which leg was old, once those final steps are done?