Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

We want to wish all of our readers and customers a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year.  We are having our employee christmas party this afternoon and then we close for a week so that we can spend this time with our families.

But before we go, we want to extend some good wishes your way and a little holiday furniture advice as well.  Our advice is simple.
1.   Please do not use your antique caned seat side chair as a stepping stool to get down that gravy boat off of the top shelf.  I know it is hard to reach up there, but we have seen enough woven furniture with foot print holes in in that we know from experience, woven seats do not make good stepping stools.
2.   When your gorgeous candle aubra on the dining room table drips all over your gorgeous wood, you may have haze spots from the heat, or colored spots from the dye.  Your best bet is to just bring it to us.  To prevent this disaster, put something under your candles, like a table runner or serving dish, to catch the wax.
3.   It is very likely your wood surfaces may incur a few new water rings this weekend.  When that happens, act fast!  Read my previous blog post about this topic here...
4.  It is possible your uncle (or other relative) may enact the ultimate party foul and have the lovely chair they are sitting on collapse underneath them.  While the relative may feel that the embarrassment is the biggest problem here,  the broken chair's problems could be made much worse if you try and fix them with yellow glue, gorilla glue, foam glue, etc.  Again, your best bet is to bring that precious chair to us, so we can put it back together properly.

And now, from all of us at craftsman, we would  like to wish you a happy (and accident free) Christmas and New Years.  We will see you in 2012!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Second Life of a Lamp Table

This table has been a little pet project of mine, and I am so glad to finally have it finished.  It kept being put off, as there  were more important things to work on.  It came into our shop about 12 years ago and the customer decided not to have the work done and abandoned it.  After eyeing it for  years, I finally decided it was (potentially) to beautiful to sit lonely on our shelves any longer.  It needed a lot of work.  The first thing we did was strip it so any remaining finish or accumulated junk was gone.  I then completely dis-assembled it, sanded it with 120 and 180 and then it was ready for repairs. The old top was so badly warped that I ended up cutting a new one instead of trying to fix the old.  I was able to keep the raised edge pieces, but all the corners had to be cleaned up.

The new top received a redwood burl veneer treatment with a band of walnut around the outside edge.  Once the table was re-assebled,  we attached new beading around the top edge, as the old had pretty much disintegrated.  So there is old beading on the legs and the bottom edge, and new beading on the top.  Not ideal, but there was no other way.

For a stain I chose to use a 'natural' (or clear) stain on the redwood/walnut top and a teak stain on the rest.  This helped to balance out the color between the 3 different kinds of woods.  The color is really beautiful and vibrant.  The burl veneer needed a pore fill treatment to smooth it out a bit and fill in the voids, and that treatment actually helped to bring the grain out even further, which is of course a plus!  The beading is highlighted with a Van Dyke brown glaze and a water based Semi-Gloss finish was applied overall.   The table looks gorgeous, I am so pleased with how it turned out.  Now instead of sitting lonely and broken on a shelf it can stand proudly in the finest living room.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Danish 'Wegner' Chair Gets Restored

This is one of a set of 4 danish Wegner chairs (pronounced 'vegner') that came to us recently, needing some help to make them 'sit-able' again.  There were a few loose joints, one of which you can see in this picture.  The top rail has come loose from the back right leg.  So these minor repairs needed to be worked out.

But in addition to the repairs,  every one of the seats needed to be re-woven by hand.  'Danish Cord' was used in an x pattern so that the original style of the chair would kept in tact.
We also cleaned and waxed the chairs with a clear wax, which helped to brighten and protect the finish in the years to come.

With his love of natural materials and his understanding of the need for furniture to be functional as well as beautiful, Hans J. Wegner (1914–) made mid-century Danish design popular on an international scaleWith more than 500 different chair designs Wegner is the most prolific Danish designer to date. His international breakthrough and greatest sales success came in 1949 when he designed the 'Round' chair which was made famous when it was used in the televised Nixon-Kenedy debates.    The 'Y' chair which we have here in our shop was first designed in 1950.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Custom Finish for a Classic Rocking Chair

 This is a classic 70's era rocking chair with a few obvious repairs needed, and a few not so obvious ones.   The most noticeable  repairs were done first, the repair to the break on one of the rockers, and a repair to a break on the opposite arm.  After these were completed,  we stripped the entire rocking chair and then re-evaluated to see what else needed to be done.  We found that every single joint had to be re-glued!  That means we had a pile of 25 pieces, each had to have the old glue cleaned off, and then freshly glued back together with epoxy.

The rocking chair then needed to be sanded with 120, and then sanded again with 180.  All of that work, the repairs and the sanding is just the boring part.  Once that was all completed,  we got to the fun part.  The custom stain color and finish.   We started out with a water based Walnut stain.  Walnut is a greenish brown stain and when it was applied to the particular wood on this rocking chair,  it also had a little bit of a grey quality to it.   This green/brown/grey tone created a base color for our next steps.  We applied a Mahogany toner to the chair which has a vibrant red color.  We applied two coats to the seat and base, and 3 coats to the top and spindles.  This red brightened up the chair and cut out the grey tone.  The result is a reddish brown with a dark greenish undertone which brings out the wood grain much better then a single color of stain would have done.  The rocking chair is now just gorgeous.  The satin sheen finish give the chair a soft quality, the wood is vibrant and the color seems just right.  We had such fun creating this custom color that we are hoping we get to apply this kind of technique again soon.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Glue Joint Failure

Can you guess how many pieces this High Chair is currently in?  I give you a hint....  it's a lot!  Sometimes we get items in where every bit of glue has failed.  This means all the seams in the seat come apart and  all the joints, whether doweled or tenoned or something fancier, come apart.  When this happens, we have to carefully tag each piece so that it isn't a puzzle trying to get it back together.

There are many reasons for glue to fail.  If the furniture was originally put together with Hide Glue, then a change in temperature or moisture in the air, could cause the glue to fail.  Hide Glue is very strong, as long as it is kept in normal indoor conditions.  But it is activated at high heats so if you leave the chair on the porch in the summer, the glue can be activated and then while the joint is soft (and not clamped) it can become loose and fall apart.  
Other joints fail because a bad or experimental glue was used.  In the early 1900's a Lignin glue was used and it has a very high fail rate.  We get furniture in fairly often that originally had this kind of glue used.  Joints can also fail because not enough glue was used to penetrate the surrounding wood fibers. If the chair has had a prior repair attempt, sometimes an in-experienced repairman will not clean the old glue off before applying new.  The glue then just bonds with the old (already failed) glue, instead of to the actual wood.   

Diagnosing why a joint failed can almost seem like diagnosing a medical condition.  It really does help to know the furniture's history.  But regardless of why the joint failed in the first place,  a skilled, experienced repair specialist can put the furniture back together, regardless of how many pieces it is in.  The new bonds they create between the pieces should last well into the future.  When you go into a shop to get your furniture worked on, be sure to ask lots of questions so that you know what your glue options are, what each glue's risks are, and get a good sense that they know what they are doing!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Spline Repair to a Trestle Table

 This elegant trestle table came in with several breaks on the trestle stretchers which not only were unsightly, but made the table much more weak and unstable.

While the elegant curved contour of these particular trestle stretchers is pleasing to the eye,  they have a weak point built in.  Each stretcher curves in such a way that the grain stops running with the piece of wood and instead runs across it.  This point of 'cross grain' is extremely weak and broke on almost every one of these points.

To repair the breaks we turned the table upside down and glued each break with epoxy.  We like to use this type of glue on breaks since it becomes almost indestructible.  The epoxy works it's way into the pores of the wood so that it becomes almost a part of the wood itself.

Once the repairs were set and the glue had cured, we came back and did extra work on those 'cross grain' sections where the structure was so weak.   To fortify these areas, we created a spline on the underside of the stretchers.  You can see the spline repair here, but once the table is back on it's feet, only the carpet will see the spline!   For those of you whom 'spline' is a new word, let me explain.   What we did is cut a groove in the stretcher right across that break.  We then inserted and epoxied into place a sturdy piece of wood, which has grain running the length of the spline, rather then across it.   This piece of wood will strengthen the weak area so that a second break can not occur in the same vicinity.

Work on this table is just about done.  We  still have some work to do on the veneered top but all the structural work is completed.  We think our customer will be thrilled with the results!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Welcome to our new Address!

We are so glad you found us at our new address.  Please note this address so that you can find us again in the future!

_ The Craftsman
(used to be at )

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Dealing with Water Rings on Wood Furniture

Thanksgiving and the Christmas holidays are right around the corner, and that usually means lots of use for your dining room table.  Sometimes an unfortunate spill happens, and that is just fine, as long as the liquid
gets cleaned up right away. If it doesn't then it can result in some unsightly damage to your table top.  Not to worry, there are still ways to solve this kind of damage, as long as you get to it quickly.  If it takes to long, and the ring turns black, then you know the water damage has gone all the way through the finish and into the wood.  At that point, your only way to repair the damage is to strip and refinish the piece.  But if you can get to it while the ring is still white, then the moisture is still in the finish and can be repaired.

You will need just 3 things to get rid of that water ring.  
1.You will need a piece of soft cotton (like and old T shirt)
2.You will need Liberon 'Ring Remover'.  We sell it here at our shop, or you can get it online.
3.Lots of Elbow Grease.

Once you have assembled these items,  this is how you go about getting rid of that evidence of a holiday party gone wild.  Take your piece of cotton and pull all the edges around into the center so that you have a ball of cotton that is smooth on one side, grasp the not smooth side with your hand.  Apply the ring remover tho the smooth side of the cotton, smack it with your hand a few times to spread the product through the cotton, and then start rubbing!  You want to rub the wet cotton forcefully across the water mark in the same direction as the wood grain.  This process may take some time, and quite a bit of pressure, but the ring will disappear if you are patient. 

The heat caused by the friction works with the chemicals in the Ring Remover to pull the moisture up out of the wood. Once you are done, there should be no evidence that the ring was ever there.  If you now see a shiny spot in that area, you can either choose to rub out the rest of the table to bring out the shine, or use a paste wax over the table which will even out the shine, and also provide a nice layer of protection for your wood. Just so you know, waxing your table requires lots of rubbing as well, so don't attempt both of these projects on the same day.

So there you have it folks, the simple, yet physical task of removing those pesky white rings from your table.  I have been trying to think of useful ideas to help you all avoid the rings in the first place, here is what I came up with...

  1. Serve all of your beverages out of sipy cups this year.
  2. Make everyone hold their beverage the entire time they are at your home.
  3. Don't serve beverages, list on your invite that everyone needs to get hydrated before leaving home,
  4. Give all your guests a straw so that they can drink out of your punchbowl and not have to hold glasses.
  5. Ask your guests to put their glassware on the floor when they are not drinking it.  This works best if you do not have a hardwood floor, are not worried about carpet stains, or do not have pets.
Any other brilliant solutions to avoiding Moisture Rings on your wood surfaces during your holiday parties and feasts this year?

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Headboard with a Shrinkage Problem

 This beautiful 19th century headboard went through some unfortunate wood shrinkage when it was brought from the moist eastern climate to the more dry western climate.  The center panel shrunk from side to side.  This caused it to fit it's frame vertically but not horizontally.  A prior attempt at a repair was done, whomever did it added a round strip of wooden trim into the seam between the panel and the frame, to try and hide the ill fitting wood.

This really was not a great fix, it hid the problem but did not actually repair it.  So the bed was brought to us for a more permanent restoration job.   What we are in the process of doing is quite a bit more complicated.   We started out by cutting and contouring a piece of wood to fit each side of the center panel.  Since the bed has veneer on both sides,  we had to plane down our new piece of wood so that it would be thin enough to handle two pieces of veneer and still be the correct thickness.  The next step was possibly the trickiest.  Veneer had to be cut to match the angles of the existing veneer on the headboard.   The patch was then glued to the center panel and we will next have to do color touchup so that the pieces  appear to be one.  Once all that is done, the frame can go back on and the work on the headboard will be completed.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Dog Chewed Table Leg

 This is not our first post about having to repair a piece of furniture that has been the victim of a teething puppy.  Unfortunately, wood is such a great surface for puppies to chew on.  The owner of this table did the right thing though in bringing the table legs to us.
We began by filling the damaged areas and contouring them to the correct shape.  The entire length of the corner we were able to fill with wood, and the smaller, more oddly shaped damage we filled with a wood colored epoxy putty.   You can see the result of those structural repairs in the above picture.  From there it left the hands of our Repair Craftsman and entered the Touchup Man's territory.   He did all the cosmetic repairs to the leg.  A few different methods were used, including burn-ins and hand paining in the woodgrain with pigment powder colors.  The damage to the table leg is now invisible.    The tricky thing about touchup repairs, is that if you know where the damage originally was, you can almost always look hard and find it again,  but if you don't know where the damage was,  you will never find it.

The leg is now ready to take it's place back in the dining room.  Hopefully the puppy has found some better things to chew on and will leave this piece of furniture alone.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Weaving Samples for Inspiration

We have a fun project we are working on for our office that I want to share with you.  Very soon, when you come into our office, you will see a beautiful display of cane samples hanging on our walls.   Most people only are familiar with one  cane pattern, generally known as '6 strand'.  We wanted to give our customers a better idea of the variety of weaves available, in case the inspiration would give them an idea about a different look for their chair.  We have 8 completed samples so far and saveral more beatiful designs on the way.  In these photos you can see a ‘4 Strand’ weave, ‘Victoria’, ‘Double Victoria’, ‘Star Of David’, ‘Daisies’, ‘Double Daisies’, and ‘Daisy and Buttons’.  These are just a few weaving examples, there are som any out there to choose from.  We can also weave colored strands into the design, and weave in beautiful center medallions.  I will post photos of those for you later. 
We would love for you to bring us your chair, and work with us to find a beautiful, different, decorative weave, that will set your chair apart from the rest.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Final Look at a Repaired Marquetry Table

 This table came to us some time ago in desperate need of some veneer expertise.  It is a 'home made' table, which makes the original work quite remarkable!  Unfortunately the glue just didn't stand the test of time, and there were pieces of veneer peeling up and breaking off all over the place.  We began our work by stripping the table, which revealed the true nature of how much work was needed.  You can see the work needed, in the top photo.  We were able  to salvage many of the pieces that had peeled or broken off, and re-glue them into place.  But for the rest of the damage, we had to try and find a matching veneer and make patches.  This turned out to be a true challenge.  Much of  the veneer on this table is rare or obscure, so that made it hard to find replacements.  In addition, when we did find the correct replacement veneer,  the older pieces had often darkened with age, so the patches were still visible.  The wood grain matched, but the depth of color did not.  This meant we had to use subtle dye techniques to bring the new wood to the same tone as the old.  We also had to employ some expert touchup techniques where the old veneer had tiny little chips, or the seams between veneers were no longer as crisp as they once were.
Once the tricky veneer work was completed, and all the necessary touchup and dye was done, we moved on to replacing the finish.  We applied a shellac as that was the original finish. To replicate the color we used 4 coats,  2 of orange shellac and 2 of super blonde shellac.  The table looks fantastic. The colors of the veneers are vibrant and have depth.  It is once again a masterpiece that can proudly grace the living room of the original maker's family and descendants.

To see more photos of the work on this table check out our Flickr Page here...   Dodecagon Marquetry Table

Dodecagon Marquetry Table

Marquetry Table - CompletedMarquetry Table - BeforeMarquetry Table - BeforeMarquetry Table - StrippedMarquetry Table - StrippedMarquetry Table - Stripped
Marquetry Table - StrippedMarquetry Table - Mid-RepairMarquetry Table - Mid RepairMarquetry Table - Mid RepairsMarquetry Table - Repair CompletedMarquetry Table - Touchups
Marquetry Table - TouchupsMarquetry Table - CompletedMarquetry Table - CompletedMarquetry Table - Completed

Dodecagon Marquetry Table, a set on Flickr.

Come see the transformation of this table from a peeling, cracking veneer disaster, to a work of art!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

A New Life for an Old Dresser

 This chest of drawers came to us years ago so that we could strip it.  The customer wanted to do the finish work on it, so it left our shop clean and ready for sanding, and staining.  After realizing recently that they just weren't getting to the project, they brought it back to us to complete the work we started.

First off, there were some repairs that needed to be done,  new drawer bottoms to be cut, a few areas patched where the wood was missing, and the top needed some bleaching.  There were also some gouges that needed to be steamed out.
Then the fun began, color time!  The customer came in and we put a few different stain color samples on the wood.  We like to do this so that they get a really good idea of what their piece will look like when it is completed.  Stains can look different on different woods, so looking at a chart on the wall isn't very helpful, it is better to see the stain on the actual wood it will be on. She chose a beautiful Cognac stain with a Satin sheen finish.  The piece has new hardware and looks beautiful now that the work is done.  One of the things I really love about this piece is that it's owners decided to leave some of it's imperfections visible.  There are scratches visible under the finish, some spots where the wood has darkened, and an old burn mark about the size of a dime on one of the top corners.    The work we did made it beautiful again, but without removing it's visible history.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Fancy Marquetry Table gets a Touchup

 This home made marquetry table came to us because the veneer  on the top was damaged and peeling. We stripped the table and then went to work re-gluing the raised areas and cutting new pieces where the veneer had to be replaced all together.

All the veneer repairs have been completed, but there were still flaws in the marquetry all over the place and these had to be corrected with touchup.  Some of the flaws were simply because the wood was not the same age, and so hadn't darkened with time,  and some of them were from the original veneer that had tiny little breaks and nicks.
Our color wizard chose 3 different pigment powders from his collection to create this mustardy yellow.  He used White, Green, Canary Yellow and Pine.  This is the mixture for just one of the colors he had to use, each different wood type he touched up on this piece needed it's own special custom blend.
This table top uses many different kinds of woods including Birds Eye Maple, Rosewood, Lacewood, Elm and Ebony.  The colors he chose, along with his expert fine gran strokes, blended perfectly with each wood he was working on.  The table top looks beautiful and is ready for it's final step,  a coat of orange Shellac over the entire table.  

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Hand Carved Drawer Handles

 There is a nice old dresser in our shop for restoration right now which has beautiful hand carved handles.  Unfortunately one of those handles is missing.  That means it is part of our job to re-create that handle.

We started out by cutting two pieces of  wood,  one the basic shape of  the handle, and one the basic shape of the decorative fruit. Stacked on top of each other, you can get an idea of how the handle will turn out.  We now need to carve and contour the cut out shapes.

The curve of the handle was cut with a chisel before being sanded smooth,  then the accent lines were cut with carving knives.  The fruit turned out to be a greater challenge,  each handle was just slightly different, so our goal was to make it blend without being exactly like any of the others.

While the 'fruit' has yet to be permanently connected to the handle,  you can see that the project has really turned out pretty well!  it still needs to be stained, but we are going to wait until the rest of the dresser has been stripped, repaired and sanded.  That way we can stain the entire piece at once.   I will be sure to post more pictures so you can all see the progress.