Thursday, October 25, 2012

Rotten Porch Rail

 This set of porch rails came to us so that the many layers of paint could be stripped off.  Simple job right?  Well, we got the paint of (simple but not easy!)  and discovered a whole new set of problems.  Years and years of water damage left many of the joints rotten.  The paint was so thick it had actually been holding the rails together.  Without the paint, the rotten joints fell apart.
 You can see in this picture how blackened the wood had become.  We ended up needing to rout out all the worst sections and replace them with new sturdy wood splines.  A spline is a piece of wood, usually inserted on the underside of a repair, that will strengthen the wood around it.  You can see one of the splines we did,  in the picture below.
 The spline repairs were put in with epoxy which is the strongest glue we have.  The epoxy soaks into the surrounding wood and is so strong that to get the wood apart it has to be cut.  We also filled all the rotten nail holes with epoxy.  This way we cold re-assemble the piece and the nails would have something to bite into.
The porch rails were re-assembled and while they aren't particularly pretty, they are much sturdier and the repairs we performed should last a very long time.  The owner of this rain is a faux finish expert so she will be taking it home and painting it herself, using exterior quality paints and finishes.  

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Cardboard Covered Trunk

We work on a lot of trunks.  I mean, A LOT of  trunks.  Right now we have 4 trunks, plus 2 chests in all in different stages of restoration.  We have a really old, all wood trunk, we have a metal trunk, and we have two cardboard covered trunks.  Now I know  cardboard sounds a little flimsy, but trust me, this is a very sturdy trunk, and large enough to fit a grown person inside.  
Around the turn of the last century, trunk makers started using cardboard to mimic leather for their less expensive trunks.  They would still use leather handles, and fancy metal corner caps and nail detailing, but the main covering would be cardboard.  This way a person with a more limited budget could still get a really nice piece of traveling equipment.

One downside of a cardboard trunk is that when you peel your traveling sticker off, sometimes it takes a bit of your trunk with it.  At least that is what happened in this case.

We began our repairs by filling the ripped areas with a form of putty and then smoothed it so that the trunk surface was level again. We then had to do color touch up work to blend the new patched area with the rest of the trunk.  The real trick here was to not make it perfectly black, but to make it's appearance match the aged look of the rest of the trunk.  In addition to the top surface repairs, we replaced the broken leather handles and straightened out the lock.  We left the traveling sticker on the front and suggest that no one tries to take it off!  It is a cool piece of history, and we would have a new hole to patch!

Friday, October 12, 2012

A Door fit for a Villa

This gorgeous door once guarded the front of a Mexican villa.  Sadly, all the matching doors on the inside of the villa were stolen by vandals.  This last gorgeous door remained, hiding all the damage that was going on within.

When it came to us the finish was in shabby shape and the wood had shrunk so the panels were coming loose.  We began our process by stripping the door.  It came out very clean but also exposed some other problems, which I will go over in a bit.  Once stripped, we took the door apart, which wasn't to difficult a task, as the wood panels were already separating.  There were quite a few things that needed to be repaired with this door,   dry rot
needed to be dealt with, there were cracks in some of the panels,  the 1/4 round beads hiding the shrinkage had to be removed,  and one of the long upright styles had warping which we needed to straighten out.  So quite a bit of repairs.  We got the door back together beautifully though, strong and sturdy and ready to guard another house.

The next task was to give it a new finish.  The door has a 'Cedar' colored water based stain.  We had to do some magic here because the panels weren't all the same color.  So we concocted a 'special sauce' to blend them all.   We also did something called 'highlighting' or 'glazing'.  This creates a permanent shadow in the carvings so that the features are enhanced.  This service is always available and we encourage it on carved pieces.  It is extra though, so not every client goes for it.  But when they do opt for 'highlighting' the piece always looks amazing.  We finished it off with a 'satin' sheen exterior quality finish.  The door could once again stand proudly in any 'villa' doorway and our client was very happy.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Imagining the Origins of an Old Bench

 We got this really neat bench in for work recently and it has really captured our imagination.  We are going to be stripping the beat up paint off of it, so it is not the work we are doing that has our imaginations going, but it is the interesting details which peak our curiosity.

It has been in our client's family for many generations so we have a rough estimate as to it's age.  There is plenty of speculation about where the bench came from but the current theory is that it was probably a 'salvation army' pulpit seat.  The shield was probably not always blue, and the carving was likely added later on.

The style of the bench is quintessential 'early american' with it's rustic lines and home made appearance.  And with it's tall back, it does make sense that it would be up at the front of a church for the preacher to sit on, rather then a low back that the congregation would use.  At some point it was likely taken home and the inscription was added.

Of course all of this is just theory, guesses, based on the little information we have.  But that is probably part of why our imaginations have gone wild.  We have just enough information to speculate, but not enough to know for sure.   Do you have any guesses about this bench's origins?  We would love to hear them!  Leave us a comment below!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Matte Finish on a Buffet Server

This is a situation where we needed to strip just the top for our customer.  There were some dents and dings along the edge of the top surface, and they wanted  to switch to a different sheen.  Something less shiny.  So we carefully masked off the rest of this buffet with paper, and then again with plastic.   Hand stripping is not ideal, but since this is a simple surface, without any intricate carving, it made the job a bit easier for us.   After stripping, the top surface was very clean and was ready for us to sand and paint.

When painting a wooden surface it can be necessary to do something called a 'pore fill'.  This is a special material which will make the wood surface smooth and eliminate the little dents created by the wood grain.  This is especially important with open pored woods like Oak, Mahogany and Walnut.  If you have a more closed grained wood such as Cherry or Maple you may be able to skip this 'pore fill' step.

You can see in the third picture our new 'Matte Finish' painted surface.  Having 'pore filling' done on a matte finish is very advantageous as those pores would disrupt that perfect surface.  Keep in mind, matte finishes are very hard to maintain, a little rubbing and the finish starts turning to satin.  Our client was very happy with the finished look of  their buffet,  that is just the result we are always looking for!

Friday, October 5, 2012

A Gilded Children's Chair

We do all kinds of large, complecated jobs here at the shop, but we also do little ones fairly often.  This job is not only little, but the furniture is little to!

This gilded chair is just the right size for a child.  We see children's rocking chairs quite frequently but chairs are a bit more rare.
As you can see, the chair came to us in multiple pieces.  Clearly some child had a little to much fun during playtime.  But we used our 'magical' skills and put this chair back together so that another child may have a golden throne to sit on.

Besides the obvious structural damage,  there were several woven strands on the seat which had broken.  We patched these strands and then re-guilded all of the repaired areas on the chair.  It came out very well.  All of the repairs blend in,  and the chair still has and old, well loved appearance.