Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Duncan Phyfe, An Old Design, with a Built-In Flaw

 The Duncan Phyfe table design is a beautiful, graceful design that first originated about 1795.  With it's sweeping Egyptian lines,  Greek Lyre Motifs and graceful Urn Pedestals,  the style perfectly accentuated the era's interest in all things ancient.  The style died out about 1830 and was nonexistent for about 100 years.  Then in about 1930 there was once again a great interest in the Duncan Phyfe design and it went through a great revival.  It is now 70 years since that revival.  Modern replicas are still being made and sold in stores today.

We often get these classically styled pieces in our shop, and usually they all come to us for the same reason.  The sweeping curved legs aren't the most sturdy design and they tend to break off just after they join with the pedestal.  We actually have two such tables with just such repairs needed, sitting in our office right now, and we have another table in our 'completed' racks that just had the same kind of repair done.

The reason this design breaks so consistently in the same area,  is that since the leg is cut into a curve,  the grain runs across it in some areas, instead of up and down.  A normal, vertical grain line is much sturdy and less likely to break.  the cross grain line of a Duncan Phyfe leg is more susceptible to pressure and can snap.

The good thing is,  we have all the tricks and tools to get these legs back together, looking as good as new, and just as sturdy,  if not more sturdy then before the break.  If you have one of these lovely pieces,  which has it's own crack or break,  bring it to us.  We would be happy to restore it to it's former glory.

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