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 )