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

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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.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Maloof Style Rocking Chair

This chair was brought to us by a gentleman who had constructed the entire thing himself, in the style of the Maloof Rocking chairs made in the 19--'s He was making it for his pregnant wife. Unfortunately, with the assistance of his Father the back spindles were sanded down until they were two fine to support weight. Also, he had trouble attaching the rockers in such way that they did not become loose as the chair was used'.  The spindles are on the floor in front of the Rocking Chair.  The dark colored spindle is the original that was put into the chair.  As you can see, it becomes extremely fine and delicate towards one end.   All it took was one person sitting in the rocker and half of them snapped in two.  The light colored ones are what we are putting in the rocker this time.

We also had to attach the rockers to the chair. When they had come off originally, the area around the joint was damaged. To attach the rocker this time, we cleaned out the joint, added new wood to the underside of the rocker, and held it together with epoxy and a hefty dowel.

It took some tricky work to get those spindles in correctly but the rocking chair now looks beautiful and is very usable. We gave the new spindles 3 coats of tung oil and the man who made the rocking chair is going to do the final coat of shinny finish at his home. We are very happy with how this project turned out, and even more happy that our customer liked the finished product!  For more pictures of the work on this project you can check out our flickr page ....  Maloof Style Rocking Chair   

Sam Maloof was a furniture designer and woodworker who first began in his garage by making items for his home in 1948.    The pieces he made were so well liked that people started commissioning items from him. In 1953 he finally build himself a studio so that he could continue making furniture.  His pieces can now be found in museums all over the United States including the Smithsonian and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  Even though he received remarkable recognition for his work as an 'artist' he continued to call himself simply a 'woodworker' on his business cards until he died in 2009