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(::~:: Collins CARE & REPAIR of

urnitu re
i::~:: Collins CARE & REPAIR of

urnitu re

ALBERT JACKSON & DAVID DAY

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Text © Alber t J ackson and David Day


pore
Printe d and boun d by Tien W ah Press, Singa

10 09 08 07 06
987654321
Consultants Tlte authors are i11debred to the
Th e authors are gratiful to the co111pa11ies a~~d i11dividuals listed
fo llowi11g co11sultants for their below ui/10 ge11erously loa11 ed
cotttributions and assistance. fumit ure or sa111ples of th eir
111aterials a11d products for
Roddy McVittie riference a11d photography.
General consultant
Electric soldering iron
Richard Ricardo Cooper Tools (GB) Ltd.
Upholstery W ashington
T yne & Wear, UK
Barbara Clarke
Chair caning Fi11ishi11g 111aterials
a11d equiptllellf Th e authors wish to thank th e
The a~~th ors a11d publishers wish Foxell & Janies Ltd. fo llou;ing companies for allowing
to thank the following i11dividuals London ECl , UK th e use of their premises for
a11d otganizations for tlteir help Liberon Waxes Ltd. location photography.
i11 the preparation of th e book. New Romney, Kent, UK
John Myland Ltd. Antique Warehouse
Berry craft London SE27 , UK l London SES, UK
H eathfield, Sussex, UK Rustins Ltd. Roddy McVittie
Connolly Leather Ltd. London NW2, UK High H alden, Kent, UK
London SW19, UK Strip & Restore
Rodney Cooper Fumiture London SE18, UK
Farningham, Kent, UK Simon Jennings Robert Whitfield Antiques
R. T. Coppin & Sons Ian Kearey London SElO, UK
London E15 , UK Alan Marshall
D. L. Forster Ltd. Roddy McVittie Picture sources and
Great Dunmow, Essex, UK High H alden, Kent, UK photographers
Franklins
Colchester, Essex, UK General props Paul Chave
KJF Furnishings Shirley Curzon Pages 10, 11 , 12
London SE 10, UK Robin Harris David George /
Kwik Strip (UK) Ltd. Barnsley House GDF
Winscombe, Avon , UK Spray guns Cirencester, Gloucestershire,
Lamont Antiques Ltd. Clarke International Ltd. UK
London SElO, UK London ES , UK Page 95
Pirelli Ltd. Graco UK Ltd. Alan Marshall
Burton on Trent, W olverhampton, Page 21
Staffordshire, UK West Midlands, UK The Stencil Store Co. Ltd.
H. Webber & Sons Ltd. Chorleywood
Ripley, Surrey, UK Ste11ciling equip111e11t H ertfordshire , UK
The Stencil Store Co . Ltd . Page 38
Chorleywood
H errfordshire, UK

Upho lstery tools and tnaterials


Bonners ofWelling Ltd .
Welling, Kent, UK
A. J. Kingham
London SE9, UK
Richard Ricardo
Banbury, Oxfordshire, UK
H . Webber & Sons Ltd.
Ripley, Surrey, UK

Ve11eers
The Art Veneer Co. Ltd.
Mildenhall, Suffolk, UK
C ONTENT§
Introduction ... ........ ............................... ..... ................ ... ............ ..8

BUYING OLD FURNITURE ............ ...... .. .............. ... ........... 10


Browsing the market ..... ... ....... ... ... .. ......... ..... ... ... ......................... 11
Checking the condition ........................................... .................... 14
Is it w hat it seems? ................... ...... ....... .. .. .... ...... .... ..... ....... ... .. .. .. 15

RESTORING AND REPLACING FINISHES ..................... 17


Cleaning and reviving .......................... .................................. .. .... 18
R epairing the finish .......... ........ ...... ..... ........... .... ........... ... ....... .... 19
Stripping the finish ..... ....... .. ......................... ........ ....... .......... ..... .20
Preparing the surface ... .. ....... ... ... ... ...... ..... .... ....... ... ... ... ............. ... 22
M odifYing the color of wood .................... ......... .......................... 25
French polish ......... .... .... ... ................................. .............. .. .......... 28
Wax polish ............................................. ... .... ... ............. .. ............. 32
Oil finish es .............. .. .... ..... ........................ .......... ..... .. ................ 33
Paint, varnish, and lacquer .................. .. ............ .... ........................ 34
Sten ciling .. ... ....... .... ... ........ ... .............. .. ... ...... .. .............. ......... ..... 38
Gilding ...................... ... ................................... ............. ....... ...... ..40
Cleaning and finis hing metal .......... ......... .. ..... .. ....... ...... .. ........ ..... 43

CHAIRS AND BENCHES .. ................... ......... ... ... .. ............... .45


C hair construc tion .. ........... ....... ........ .. ....... ....... ... ........................ 46
M ending loose j oints .. ..... .................. .... .... .. ........ .... .. ... ....... ... ...... 51
Dismantling a chair ..... .. ...... .... ... ... ................................... ... ......... 52
R epairing j oints ..... ..... ... .............................. ... ............................. 55
Repairing legs ..... ... ....... ........ ......................................... .............. 58
Clamping chair frames ..................... .. .................................... .. .... 62
R epairing rails ... ..... ... .... ................... ... ........................................ 63
R epairing backs .............. ....... .... ..... ...................................... .. ... .. 65
R ecaning ............... ..... ... ................................... ... ...... ............ .. .... 68
Rush seating ..... .. ................... ... ..... ....... ... .... .. ........ ........ .............. 7 4
Basic upholstery ...... ... ..... ...... ........ .. ... ....... ... ........ ...... .................. 76
..

CONTENTS
General upholstery repairs ......... .......... ..................... ... ... .... .......... 78
Re-covering a drop-in seat .............. .... ................. ................ ........ 81
Traditional stuffed seat .................................................................. 85
Leather upholstery ...................... ................................................. 91
Metal-furniture repairs ................ .... ........ .. ........ ........ .......... ......... 92

TABLES ... ... ... ...................... ....... ............................. ...... ...... ...... 97
Table construction .............................. ...... .. .... ............. ................ 98
Dismantling tables ..................................... .. ... ..... ....................... 102
Mending joints ....... ....... .. ....... .................. .. ...... .... ........ ..... .... ..... 104
Tabletops .................................... .......... ......... ... ... ...... ................ 109
Marble tops ............................................ .... .... ............. ..... ......... . 113
Veneered tabletops ...................................... ... ... ..... ...... ......... .... .115
Types of veneer ............ ... .................... ..... ....... .. ..... .. ................ ..116
Repairing veneered surfaces .................. .. .... ..... ............... .... ... .. ..118
Laying veneer. .. .... ................................... ..... .... .. ...... ........ ......... .121
Caul veneering ........................................ ..... ...... ... .......... .......... 123
Crossbanding .......................... ............ ....... .... ... ......................... 126
Ban dings and stringing .............................. .. ... ..... .............. ....... .. 12 7
Marquetry and parquetry ....... ....... ...... ....... .. .... ... ....... ................ 128

CHESTS AND CABINETS ............... ...... .. ... ............ ............ 131


Solid-wood construction ......................... ..... .. ... ........ .. ... ............ 132
Frame-and-panel construction ................ .. .................. ................ 134
Repairing carcasses .... ... ...... ..... .... ............................... ..... ...... ..... 136
Repairing drawers ............................. .. ............. ................. ..... .. .. 141
Repairing doors .................................. ..... ... .......... ..................... 144
Repairing and restoring moldings ... ........................................... 151
Cabinet hardware ........... ........................ ....................... ............. 154
Eradicating woodworm .............................................................. 156

Index ................ .. .............. ....... ... ... ...... .... ... ..... ......................... 157
· KNTROD UCTKON
THERE IS A GREAT DEAL OF ARGUME T, even within professional
circles, about how to restore old furniture. Some authorities contend
that it is best to keep repairs to the absolute minimum, retaining as
much of the furniture as possible in its present condition, so that
future generations can see immediately what has been renovated.
Other restorers try to return the piece to its original pristine
condition, within obvious limitations. Most amateur restorers will
merely want to mend relatively inexpensive old furniture that they
can use and enjoy; the kind of furniture you pick up at an open-air
market or local auction. If you are lucky enough to have inherited a
rare or valuable piece, the best advice would be to have it restored by
a specialist-but first discuss with him or her the merits of one -·
school of thought over another.

So how much experience do you need to repair old furniture?


Although you need to be reasonably competent with woodworking
tools before you can tackle som_e of the more advanced repairs
included in this book, that doesn't mean you have to be an expert.
Anyone who has maintained their own home for a few years should
have acquired enough experience of working with all manner of
...
tools and materials to get started, and even a com.plete beginner
can clean up and wax a dull finish. After all, we are talking about
mending old furniture, not making it from scratch. And you don't
need a workshop filled with specialized equipm.ent. Many people
happily restore furniture on a folding bench in the garage; some
even manage on the kitchen table.
Traditionalists like to use the same types of materials that were used
to construct old furniture, even if that means making them from
basic ingredients. In this book, we take the view that it is preferable
to use materials that are easily obtained and which will make the
task of restoration as easy as possible, regardless of whether they
were available to the original furniture makers. If you live near
a large town, you should be able to buy most of these materials
locally. There are also a number of mail-order companies that
supply modern and traditional materials; they advertise in craft and
woodworking magazines and some can be found on the Internet.

But is it worth going to all the trouble to repair a chest of drawers


or an old chair when you can buy brand-new furniture for a similar
price? This is a fair question , and one that is difficult to answer
objectively. The appeal of old furniture has much more to do with
the quality of materials and the appreciation of shape and p~oportion
than it has to do with economics. Everyone loves a bargain, but a
restorer is just as likely to be driven by the prospect of saving an
heirloom from the scrap heap. And if there is nothing more to be
gained than the satisfaction of living with characterful furniture that
you have brought back to life, isn't that justification enough?
JBUYKNG O L D
F U R N IT U R E
FOR A PIEC E OF OLD FUR NITU RE
KNO WIN G WHA T IS A FAIR PRIC E

I
plac e to plac e and,
com es with expe rien ce. It varies wide ly from
ition affects the pric e
perh aps mor e imp orta ntly for the resto rer, cond
eye on the mar ket- in
considerably. It is also essential to keep your
chan ged completely.
a few mon ths, you may find that price s have
that was once
Com e back after a year or two, and furn iture
s that were
plen tiful may have all but disappeared and style
igno red have beco me high ly collectible.

10
There's 110 better way to learn about buying old furniture than regular brotusing. Yott
quickly get a feel for what type offumiture appeals to yo u and where you can find
it in the kind cif condition that is ideal for restoration. It pays dividends to take your
time, noting and comparing prices until you can approach a sale tuith the CO I!fidence
gained from first -hand experience.

As an amateur furniture restorer, you ANTIQUE STORES


probably won't b e in the position to
renovate genuine antiques. However,
most antique stores worthy of the
name stock a variety of furniture ,
fron1 the truly rare item to pieces that
are expensive only because they have
already passed through a restorer's
hands , and that in itself is to your
advantage.You can get an idea ofhow
much you may save by repairing
furniture yourself, and it is revealing
to discover what can be achieved by
someone who makes a living from
restoring furniture. The work of an
expert may be difficult to see, but if
you ask, an hone t dealer will always
point our recent re toration. In any
case, a dealer knows what he or sh e can hope to make for a particular item,
and may have been unable to pay a re torer to do what wo uld have been
required for a completely invisible repair. Con equently, yo u will com e across '
perfectly adequate repairs that are not ob\·iou at a glance, but w hich you can
detect under closer scrutiny. Knowing what e\·en professionals resort to will
give you confidence in your own work.

Secondhand stores that specialize in the cheaper end of the house-clearance SECONDHAND STORES
trade can be fruitful hunting grounds for the amateur furniture restorer.
However, don't expect to discover an unrecognized gem; the dealers in these
stores are experts in their own field and will have already sold the better-
quality pieces at auction. Despite this , yo u w ill have the opportunity to sift
through furniture of varying quality to find items in need of repair or
restoration, and at a realistic price.
Be prepared to bargain if you feel the furniture is overpriced-a
reduction of five to ten percent is hardly ever refused, unless the dealer paid
too nmch for the piece in the first place. However, you shouldn't expect a
dealer to drop the price if you want to pay by credit card because banks make
a charge for providing the service. Most dealers will accept a check, but as with
so many other secondhand purchases, offering cash is preferable if you want to
come away with a restorable bargain.

ll
W AREHOUSES In c1t1es and large towns, there are
several charity organizations that run
large warehouse-type stores dedicated
to selling old furniture at inexpensive
prices. Although the construction of
the furniture is generally sturdy, the
finish or upholstery may not suit your
tastes. It can seem somewhat daunting
to search through one of these vast
buildings; however, they can be
fascinating places in which to browse,
particularly as they often comprise
several floors crammed with a variety
of furniture in different styles. There is
no guarantee that you will find broken
or dilapidated furniture in need of repair because of the nature of this type of
business. However, with so much furniture to choose from, you will probably
find something unusual that needs only a more tasteful upholstery or a new
finish-making it the perfect choice for the novice restorer.

MARKETs It is well worth frequenting open-air flea markets. There is often a lot of
furniture to choose from, and competition, coupled with low overheads, tends
to generate competitive pricing. The informal nature of a marketplace
produces a relaxed atmosphere in which you can converse freely with the
dealers, who, once they get to know what you are looking for, will often
reserve items that they think may interest you. There is very little pressure to
buy at a market, and you can examine items of furniture at your leisure.

A ucTioNs Auctions are perhaps most people's favorite source of furniture. You are at least
on a par with dealers, having an equal chance to pick up agenuine bargain. In
fact, you are at an advantage because you are not looking to make a profit and
can usually outbid a dealer, who must guard against paying more than he'll be
able to retrieve from a buyer. Almost anything can turn up at an auction, from
high-class antiques to modern reproductions, with everything else in between.
Moreover, bidding for something that really interests you can be an exciting
experience, one which perhaps you should prepare for with some care.
Try to visit the salesroom on the day before the auction itself. If you wait
until the morning of the sale, you may not have time to inspect all the lots that
interest you, and you may buy something that is not quite what you had hoped
for. Pick up a catalog, which will give a brief description of each lot, plus an
estimate and sometimes a reserve price, which is the lowest the auctioneer can
accept for each lot. You will not find a detailed description of the condition of
furniture to be auctioned- you are expected to discover any defects for
yourself, so feel free to examine every potential purchase thoroughly before
you make up your mind to bid for it.
Read the "Conditions of Sale" carefully. They are probably printed on the
back of the catalog, and may be displayed in the salesroom. Check who is to
pay the auctioneer's commission on any purchase: is it the vendor, the
purchaser, or both of you? You will also have to add a percentage to any
successful bids to cover any taxes.
On the day of the sale, make sure you know which lots you intend to bid
for and how much you are prepared to pay for each one-and then stick to
your decision! It is all too easy to get caught up in the heat of the moment and
pay more than is reasonable.
In addition, don't be too hasty to open the bidding. The auctioneer will
suggest a figure, but watch how the shrewd dealers wait for him to reduce it
to the lowest possible price before they make a bid. When you want to enter
the bidding, all you have to do is signal clearly your willingness to pay the price
being suggested by the auctioneer with a nod of your head or by raising your
hand-an experienced auctioneer knows the difference between a genuine
bid and an involuntary movement of a catalog.You may not always know who
you are bidding against, especially as the auctioneer may be acting on behalf
of a customer who is unable to attend the sale. However, provided you stick to
your own reserve price, you won't go wrong.

At first sight, buying privately from a newspaper advertisement or at a garage PRIVATE SALE
sale would appear to be the restorer's best option, but it pays to be well-
informed beforehand. First, everyone thinks they have a valuable antique for
sale, and it can be difficult to disillusion them if you can't back the contrary
view with facts. Second, private vendors can take offense at any suggestion that
their treasured piece is less than perfect, so be prepared for some haggling. It is
also unlikely that you'll have any chance of returning an item you have bought
should you discover subsequently that it is damaged, so insist on inspecting the
piece closely, despite any assurances from the vendor. A cautious seller may not
be happy to accept a check, so either return to pick up your furniture after the
check has cleared or make sure you bring cash with you.

The thrill of making the purchase can temporarily dispel more pragmatic TRANSPORTING
considerations-you wouldn't be the first person to buy a settee or wardrobe F URNITURE
that refused to go through the door or up the stairs. Carry a tape measure with
you when looking at old furniture, and try to ascertain before purchasing
whether larger pieces can be dismantled easily for transportation.
You can usually arrange to have a piece delivered, in which case it should
be covered for accidental damage by the carrier's insurance, but if you intend
to transport it yourself, take sensible precautions, especially with larger items.
Many pieces have survived unscathed for a century or more, only to be
damaged on the way home from an auction or when moving house.
Dragging a heavy cabinet across the floor, for example, can dislodge a
foot or split the plinth. And if a door suddenly swings open while you are
carrying a cupboard, there is every chance that the hinge screws will be ripped
out. Try to hire a trolley when transporting large items, and always lock
cupboard doors or bind a length of upholstery webbing around the carcass to
keep them closed. If you use string or rope, protect corners from abrasion with
corrugated cardboard. Lighten the load by rem.oving drawers, and carry them
separately. Protect finished surfaces with blankets, and don't place heavy
objects with sharp corners on upholstery, even for a short journey.
C 1E C KI~G TJ-IE O~ DI T I O~

The 111ay a piece offurniture is used, and so111etimes abused, determines the type of
damage or 111ear you can expect to find. Naturally, this is also affected by the way the
piece is constructed. In the introductory pages to each chapter in this book, there are
tips on what to look for 111hen buying various types of chairs, tables, and cabinets. In
addition, there are so111 e general points worth noting 1/lhen visiting sales rooms, stores,
and 111arkets. Until you becomefa111iliar with the different categories, you might find
it helpful to carry a checklist as a remi11der.

Regardless of its age or style, the average dining chair will have seen plenty of
use. Not only will it have been subjected to the strain of countless diners
shifting their weight onto the back legs as they lean back after a meal, it will
almost certainly have been used as a m.akeshift stepladder to reach a high
bookshelf or cupboard. A well-made chair is immensely strong for its weight,
but concentrating loads onto one or two legs puts undue strain on the joints,
especially those between the seat rails and the back legs. Before you buy any
dining chair, always inspect these joints for signs of weakness . With one hand
on the back rest, tilt the chair onto its back legs, then press down on the front
edge of the seat with the other hand. Any n1.ovem.ent between the rails and
back legs denotes slack joints. Loose joints can be reglued relatively easily, but
if you can detect excessive slackness, it is possible that the joints have broken
Testiug th e strength cif the joiuts or have been consumed by woodworn1..

TABLES Place the palm of your hand on a tabletop and attempt to slide it from side
to side. A strong rigid frame below the tabletop will resist any movement, but
one with slack joints or missing stretcher rails will have a tendency to rock
back and forth. Tables with any form of mechanical joint or moving
component are prone to wear, so be prepared to put them through their paces
before you decide to buy.

CABINETS In a similar way, look for signs of wear along the running surfaces and
moving parts of cupboards and chests of drawers. And it is always worth trying
to tilt a cabinet from side to side to make sure the back panel and rails are
fastened securely.
Woodworm will attack any piece of furniture, but cabinets are
particularly susceptible because they tend to stand immobile for much of their
lives. It is essential that you check for indications of recent infestation, such as
wood dust, inside a cabinet, and look carefully at the back panel and drawers.

FINISH The condition of a surface finish is invariably self-evident, but there is hardly
ever the need to reject a piece simply because it needs repolishing. With a little
practice, just about anyone can strip and refinish a piece of furniture, and that
includes French polishing-if you are prepared to put in sufficient time to
master the technique. This assumes that you'll need to go that far; in many
cases, there are little more than minor blemishes to take care ofbefore cleaning
up the finish and applying a surface dressing.
l e:J
To a collector aiming to buy representative examples of spec[fic styles and periods,
authmticity and condition are of prim e importance, but this book is intended
primarily for people who simply u;ant to furnish their ho111es with attractive old
furniture at a reasonable cost. Many of us clutter up our hom es with a mixture of
styles in a variety of conditions, which som ehow seem to coexist harmoniously.
Nevertheless, we all like to know what 1ve are buying.

No one bothers to fake run-of-the-mill furniture . If nothing else, the cost of REPRODUCTIONS
the materials would be prohibitive. However, this does not n1ean there aren't AND REBUILDS
a lot of n1odern reproductions mixed in with older pieces. Furniture makers
have always reproduced the styles of earlier periods: some Victorians, for
example, were attracted to Regency-style furniture, and large amounts of
pseudo-Jacobean and Queen Anne furniture were constructed for consumer
in the 1920s and 1930s.These items are now collectible in their own right and
sell for comparatively high prices. Contemporary reproductions are equally
acceptable, if you know what you are buying. To avoid any possible
disappointment, look out for the telltale signs of modern factory production.
A modern finish is usually brighter and more even than an original, with
a somewhat "plasticlike" appearance. It will probably be extremely tough and
durable, but it lacks the mellow qualities of an antique finish. Unless there has
been some attempt at "factory distressing," there won't be any of the familiar Hand- cut dovetails 0 11 a late-
nineteenth-cmtury drawer
blemishes or worn patches that are associated with old polished surfaces.
Modern fittings are patently obvious. No old furniture would have been
constructed using crosshead screws, and if a back panel has been fastened with
staples, you can be sure the piece left the factory comparatively recently.
The majority ofVictorian and Edwardian furniture was assembled by
hand, and the makers took a pride in their hand-cut dovetails . These joints
invariably feature relatively wide tails separated by extremely narrow triangular
pins. A machine- made dovetail joint has equal-size pins and tails.
There is a thriving market in reproduction country-style furniture.
Clearcut copies are relatively easy to identifY because the color of the new
wood and finish betray their age. What are perhaps more difficult to detect are
£1 nwchine-w
tables, cupboards, and dressers made from salvaged floorboards and joists. If the "old" f umiturct gateleg; not all
!Pas hand111ade
wood is well chosen, the general appearance can be convincing. Even so, the
moldings are sometimes a little too crisp when compared to old country
furniture, and you may even be able to detect the odd rectangular hole left by
a cut nail in an original old floorboard. Also check the inside of cupboards and
the underside of tabletops to see whether there are pale stripes left on the
wood, an indication that at one time they were laid across floor joists.
Quite often, old furniture is cannibalized to make reproductions.You can
find a recently made kitchen table, for example, with genuine old turned legs.
Unless the color has been expertly matched, the amalgamation of different
woods is a sign that the pieces did not start off together. Another clue is the
overall proportion of the piece; it is not uncommon to see an inordinately
chunky occasional table sporting cut-down legs from a dining table. C~ffee table 11 ith w t-do1Fn legs
1

lS
RE T OR N G
AND REIPLACliNG
FliN li§HE§
PROVIDED IT HAS BEEN C ARED FOR,
furniture ages gracefully, developing a subtle
patina that is diffi cult to reproduce artificially
and yet is easy to destroy by needless stripping
and refi nishing. Few restorers would argue
agai nst j udicious cleaning to remove perhaps a
hundred years' wo rth of dirt, and most would
probably rem ove unsightly stains. The real
bone of contention is stripping furniture to
bare w ood because such treatment can do
irreparable damage. However, you have little
option but to refinish when it comes to a fire-
or water-damaged piece or if a piece has a
completely inappropriate finish. There are no
hard and fast rules to follow except that, when
it comes to refinishing old furniture, do as
little as possible and proceed with caution.
FI: ITSHES: CLEANING AND REVIVING

CJLEAN I G D REVIVI G THE !FINISH


n old table or chest of drawers that has been
A sitting at the back of a workshop or garage will
obviously need cleaning, but if you look closely at
You can wash painted furniture w ith warm water
containing a little mild detergent, but take care not
to soak it. There are a number of commercial fluids
almost any oldish piece of furniture, you will find for cleaning clear fini shes, but you can make your
that it has lost much of its color and luster, and dirt own by mixing 4 parts mineral spirits with 1 part
and grease have gathered in the nooks and crannies. linseed oil.
Reviving a dull finish
Initial cleaning always improves the appeara nce of old
furniture , but don't be surprised if the finish itself still looks
somew hat lifeless. This is due in part to natural aging, but also
to the fact that abrading the surface wi th steel wool will dull
it. All that is required in most cases is to buff the finish with a
mild abrasive. Burnishing creams and liquid abrasives are sold
as brand-name revivers; liquid metal polish or car-paint
cleaner wo rk just as well .

~0:~t':l ''~:
Buffing the finish
Pour some reviver
onto a soft cloth pad
and buff the dull
finish vigorously until
it shines. Complete
the renovation with
a single thin coating
of wax polish. '-.
- ·-- -~ . ... ·

Cleaning a clear finish


The aim is to remove the surface laye r of old wax and grime,
leaving the underlying finish intact. Provided you are not too
heavy-handed, this is a clearcut procedure.
Rebuilding a protective coat
1 Rubbing with Sometimes the original protective coat of finish has worn so
the grain thin that it is worthwhile to rebuild it. If yo u are not sure of
To remove old wax, w hich finish to use , make some simple tests to identify the
dampen a coarse cloth finish before proceeding to refinish the furniture as described
pad with cleaning later in this chap ter. H owever, if in 'doubt, you can safely
fluid and rub in apply wax over any previous polish or varnish .
the direction of the
grain. The wax will Identifying the finish
gradually soften to a Initial cleaning will have removed
sludge, which must any wax polish, and you may
be wiped from the have to apply fresh wax to the
suiface with a clean bare wood.
cloth or paper towel To test for French polish,
bifore it coagulates. wrap a cloth dampened with
denatured alcohol around your
2 Rubbing into finger and rub the finish in an
moldings inconspicuous area. lf the cloth
You may have to use becomes gray, you are merely
No . 000 steel wool removing suiface dirt; brown
to lift thick layers of staining means you are actually
wax, especially from dissolving French polish.
recesses or moldings. You can carry out a similar
Dip it in the fluid test for cellulose lacquer, using
and rub the suiface lacquer thinners.
as bifore, but not too It is impossible to redissolve
vigorously . Finally, most modem varnishes, except
clean the suiface perhaps fo r some acrylic varnishes,
using a soft cloth which may be affected by strong
and mineral spirits. solvents and lacquer thinners.

18
FINISHES: REPAIRING

R EPA RRRNG THE Fli~R S H


ost of us are content to live w ith minor polished table or accidentally
M blemishes-the scuffs, scratch es, and stains
caused by everyday wear and tear on our furnitu re.
drag a bunch of keys across a
hall stand , leaving a blemish
Indeed, w ithout them an old piece of furniture can that is un accep table, and we are
look somehow devoid of character, almost a fa ke. faced with the prospect of repairing,
However, someone might spill alcoh ol onto a or at least disguising, the danuged finish .
Disguising scratches Filling with shellac or varnish
If a scratc h is no t deep enough to have damaged the wood U se a compatible fmish to fill deep scratches in French polish
itself, yo u should be able to disguise it w ith a commercial or a modern va rnish . U se varnish straight from th e can , but
liquid reto uch er, to burnis h it out of the fin ish , or to fill it pour a little shellac into a shallow dish and let it thicken slightly.
flush w ith wax o r shellac. It is no t always possible to make an It is best to use a whi te French polish on paler woods because
invisible repair, but the damage will be fa r less conspicuous. a filled scratch can look da rker than the surrounding finish .

Retouching Filling flush


Colored, blended- Usi11g a s111all artist's
wax liq tAid retouchers paintbrush, trickle a
will not eliminate ;:;0111111~:; little finish into the
scratches, but they scratch . Allow it to
hide them , provided set, and, if necessary, ::<
that the wood is not rift// the scratch until
scratched. Apply the finish protrudes
retoucher liberally to slightly from the
the scratch, allow it suiface. After it has
to dry for at least an hardened, carifully
hour, remove any scrape down the
excess, and buff with filling, using a shmp
a sift cloth . blade, and sand
it flu sh with fine
silicon-carbide paper.
Burnishing Finally, buff th e
H airline scratches ca11 suiface with a
usually be burnished finish reviver.
out, using a finish
reviver (see right). Do
not attempt to bu mish Removing white rings
a deep scratch, because Water and alcohol will readily' etch French polish , leaving
this will wear down pale cloudy stains o n a finish ed surface . This ap pears m ost
the body of polish near freq uently in the fo rm of w hite rings, w here a we t glass o r
the scratch and produce ......_-,:c..u:Y flower vase has been left in contac t w ith th e polish fo r som e
a pale patch that will time. Similar stains can result from placing a cup of hot liquid
look worse than the on a table finished with a French polish.
anginal scratch.
Using a finish
Using a wax stick reviver
Small wood-colored Fortunately, most of
wax sticks are ideal these blemishes do
for hiding deeper not penetrate too
scratches. Rub the deeply into the
edge of a stick across polish, and it is
the scratch until it usually possible to
is fu ll, wipe off the burnish them out
sutplus, and buff with with a mild abrasive
a scift cloth . Gently reviver on a soft
scrape off small lumps cloth. You may have
of wax with a piece to build up the body
offlex ible plastic. cif polish around the
Use a thin coat of =~;~~~~~,....­ mark to disguise a
wax polish or French pale patch worn in
polish to unify the the fin ish.
swface color.
§TRKIPIPKNG THE JFIKK H
tripping paint or varnish with a power sander or harmlessly from the woo d. It is a messy job that
S scraper is not a practical option. The dust created
could be harmful, and it is difficult to remove the
must be undertaken w ith care, but it is neither
difficult nor dangerous, provided yo u observe the
finish witho ut destroying the patina of the wood at manufacturer's health and safety recommendations.
the same time . H eat can be used to soften the finish ,
but it is best to use an electric hot-air stripper to Using Solvents
avoid scorching the work or, worse, starting a fire. It is possible to soften an old wax finish with
Even so, hot-air stripping is only suitable for larger mineral spirits, and denatured alco hol will reactivate
items ofbuilt-in furniture and is not reconunended French polish, but it can take so long to complete
for delicate items made from fine woods. the work that using these solvents is only practicable
It is far better to opt for a chemical stripper that if yo u plan to strip a small area , such as a damaged
will soften the finish so that it can be scraped side rail or door panel.
Commercial strippers Vamish removers Liquid and gel strippers
There are a number of commercially prepared chemical Some modern varnishes are Most chemical strippers are
strippers that are suitable for use on furniture. You can buy notoriously difficult to rernove. available in a gel-like consistency
th em from any home-improvement center or hardware store . Although a good general-purpose that will cling to vertical surfaces,
stripper should cope with them, but some manufacturers also offer
General-purpose strippers you can buy strippers that are a liquid version designed for
These strippers are formulated to remove practically any finish you'll made specifically for softening deeper penetration cif wood
find on furniture, including water-base paints ar1d varnishes. Th ey polyurethane varnishes and carvings and moldings .
normally contain chemicals that will burn your skin, and even the traditional copal varnish. Once
fumes they exude can be poisonous. However, you can ~llork relatively again, strict safety precautions Alcohol or water- washable
safely, provided the workshop is adequately ventilated or will apply. All strippers have to be washed
you strip the furniture outside. Always wear protective gloves and DENATURED from the wood at th e end cif the
ALCOHOL
goggles; a face mask or respirator is also recommended when using job. Water raises th e grain, so
some chemical strippers-check the i11structions supplied by the make sure you choose a stripper
manufacturer. Wear old clothing or a protectille apron, and co!Jer that is ~l!ashable with mineral
the floor with plastic sheets or newspaper. spirits or denatured alcohol.

Safe strippers
If the th ought of working with
such potent chemicals causes you
concern, you can opt to use one
of the so-called "safe" strippers.
Th e jttmes are harmless and there
is no need to wear gloves, but
these strippers react comparatively
slowly with old finishes.

PROTECTIVE GLOVES

SCRAP! G TOOLS

20 /
FI~~
~------------------------------ HES:STRlPP~G
~S~

Removing finishes with a chemical stripper 4 Washing the


Before you begin work, ask your local cooperati ve extension surface
where to dispose of solvents and other hazardous waste. You After rei/loving lllOST
can use an old brush to apply a chemical stripper- even one of the old finish,
clogged w ith dried paint will soo n beco me pliable. clean the resid11e
OIIT of Th e pores by
1 Applying the r11bbing ~vads offine
stripper steel wool dipped in
Paint on a liberal .fi'esh stripper in th e
coat of stripper, direction of th e grain .
st1ppling it into Finally, wash The
comers, moldings, s11ljace with lllineral
and cmvings. Allow spirits (or possibly
it to soften the denawred alcohol),
finish for 10 to 15 11sing a cloth pad.
minutes (check the Allow the wood to
instructions), then try dry bifore preparing
scraping a small area the s11ljace for
to see if the paint or rifinishing.
varnish has sciftened
to the wood. If not,
INDUSTRIAL STRIPPING
apply a second coat if
stripper, stippling th e '·""'--~- ..,
It may be tempting to save time by having furniture stripped
blistered finish back ... _... ·~··~~~~- -c .. _ professionally, but some industrial processes can do irreparable
--
~

onto th e suiface. ..... -----


harm. Those that involve immersion in hot caustic soda and
subsequent hosing with water invariably weaken joints, lift
2 Scraping off veneers, and cause thin panels to split. The chemicals may
After another 5 to stain the wood, and you can forget abo ut preserving patina.
10 minutes, use a It is possible to have solid- wood furniture stripped in a
paint scraper to lift cold- chemical dip w ithout such drastic results, leaving you
the softened finish with only moderately raised grain to deal with. However,
from .fiat suifaces. there are possible health risks associated with cold-chemical
Scrape with the grain dipping, which may eventually lead to fewer companies
to avoid scarring the operating w ith the necessary solvents.
wood, taking care not A few companies remove finishes by dipping furniture for
to damage the suiface a few minutes in a bath of warn1 alkali. The process is safe
with the comers of for man-made boards, including plywood, but you should
the blade. Deposit seek the operator's guarantee ,before allowing old veneered
the waste onto thick furniture to be stripped, particularly if it has been painted.
layers of newspaper,
ready for wrapping
and disposal.

3 Cleaning
moldings and
carving
Shmpen a piece of
wood to scrape thick
paint stripper out
of moldings and
crevices, and clean
thoro~1ghly with balls
offine steel wool-
turn the wool inside
out if it becomes
filled with paint or
varnish. Use pieces
of burlap to clean
oak, because metal
particles may stain
th e wood.

21
FINISHES: PREPARATION

PIREPAIRliNG THE URJFACE


fter you have stripped an old finish, it will disguise a poorly prepared surfa ce-in fact , a clear
A be necessary to prepare the bare wood for
refinishing. If possible, preserve the patina of old
fini sh tends to draw attention to raised grain,
scratches, and dents. It is important to repair the
wood by doing nothing more than lightly sanding worst blemishes before sanding the surface w ith
raised grain . You will also need to prepare and progressively finer grades of abrasive pap er.
finish new components that you have substituted Abrasives are also used to rub down hardened
for damaged or missing parts. Don't be fooled into finishe s betwee n coats as you build a protective
thinking that a wood dye or a layer of va rnish will body of polish or varnish.
WO OD PUTTY Filling blemishes
SANDING SEALER.
The materials used to ftll cracks and sm all holes are made in a
range of typical wood colors. Howeve r, beca use th ey do not
absorb dyes and finishes in the sam e way as the surrounding
wood, som e restorers prefer to sand the wood first and ap ply
one sealer coat of finish before trying to match the color of
the ftller. Others prefer to fill first-after they test a sample
on ano ther similar piece of wood or on an inconspicuous part
of the furnitu re and apply the requisite fin ish to see how it
reacts w ith the filler.

WAX FI LLI NG STICKS Wood putty


This putty is a pre-111ixed paste
used as a wood.filler. It is
probably the best.f111erfor using
with paint, although it can be
used under most fi11ishes.
When using a clear finish,
choose a putty that is similar
to the color of the wood, then
adjust a small batch by gradually
adding a compatible wood dye
until you achieve an exact match.
A less -than-peifect result can
later be disguised with very light
applications of artist's oil paints.
I;nsttre the suiface is clean and
dry, then use a putty knife to
press the putty into the crack or
PUTTY KN IFE
hole. When it has set hard, sand
SHELLAC STICKS lightly until flush with the wood.

Filling with wax Melting solid


Colored-wax filling shellac sticks
sticks are ideal for You can use a
filling woodworm soldering iron to
holes and hairline rnelt some solidified
cracks bifore applying shellac into a hole.
wax polish or shellac. While it is still
Cut off a small piece soft, press it fiat
of wax and knead it with a chisel
between yourfingers dipped in water.
until it is soft enough Once the shellac has
to press into the holes hardened, pare it
with a blade. As the flush with the wood,
wax hardens, scrape using a sharp ch isel,
it flush with a piece bifore sanding it
offlexible plastic and smooth with fine
burnish the repair abrasive paper.
with the back of a
piece cif sandpaper.

22
FINISHES: PREPARATION

Removing scratches and burns T y pes of sandpaper


A burn left by a carelessly placed cigarerte or a scratch across Although not stricd y accu rate, sandpaper is a convenient
the grain can often be sanded out w ith ab rasive paper. generic term for all th e types of abrasive paper used to smooth
H owever, it is quicker to rem ove deeper blemishes with a wood and finishes. Particles of abrasive material, or "grit," are
cabinet scraper. Because scraping is almost certainly going to glued to a paper or som etimes cloth backing, which can be
cut below the level of the patina, yo u may have to blend in wrapped around a block of wood or cork. When sanding
the small scrap ed patch w ith wood dye . small areas it is sometimes more convenient to simply fold
the paper and use yo ur fingertips alone to apply pressure .

Using a scraper Aluminium-oxide


Scrape diagonally pap er
across th e gra i11 of the Tin's abrasive, usually
wood from opposi11g brown or pale gray in
directions, the11 finish color, is generally
by scraping par~llel co11sidered the best
with th egrai11. paper for sa11ding
hardwoods.

Garnet paper
R eddish-brown garnet
paper is suitable for use GARNET PAPER

011 a11y type of wood,


but it is usually
recommended when
Raising dents sanding softwoods.
A heavy object dropped onto a wooden smface will crush the
grain, leaving a depression that can usually be repaired without Silicon-carbide
recourse to a filler. Applying water or steam to the dent makes paper
the wood swell, lifting the crushed grain until the smface is Known as wet-and-
flus h again. dry sandpaper, black
silicon-carbide paper
1 Applying water is used with water as
Use a pointed a lubricant to smooth
paintbrush to drop paints and varnishes
hot water onto the between coats. There
dent, th en allow the is also a gray silicon-
wood to absorb the carbide paper that
1/loisture. Once th e ernploys a z inc-oxide
wood appears to be powder as a dry
dry, apply more lubrica11t. This is
water until the dent ideal for ntbbing
disappears. Shou ld dow11 French polisl1.
this treatment be
unsuccesgitl, try
using steam.

2 Using steam
Lay a damp cloth
over th e de11t a11d
place the tip of a
heated solderi11g iro11
directly on top . Th e Grades of sandpaper
steam generated Abrasive papers arc graded acco rding to the size of the grit
should cause the used. They are generally available as coarse, m edium, and fin e
grain to swell. Once grades for sanding wood, and vety fin e for rubbing down
the suiface is flush, fini shes . These grades are subdi vided by number-the higher
sand th e whole area th e number, the fin er the grit. In addition, there are open-coat
smooth with afine abrasives that are less likely to clog w hen sanding resinous
abrasive paper. softwoods or paintwork, and closed-coat abrasives with
densely packed particles for fas t sanding. ever use a coarser
grade than necessary, and always wo rk progressively through
to the finer grades.

23
FINISHES: PREPARATION

Sanding by hand Filling the grain


Unless you are making a new tabletop or replacing a complete The appearance of a glossy finish can be ruined on wood
side panel, there is little use for powe r sanders in furniture species with large open pores, such as mahogany, rosewood,
restoration. Most of the time yo u will be sanding surfaces oak, and ash , unless they are treated with a grain filler
that have been stripped and need nothing more than a light beforehand. A number of commercial grain fillers are
sanding to smooth the grain, or yo u will be preparing transparent and intended for use wi th any wood, but the
relatively small replacements that do not warra nt power majority available are wood-colored pastes. If you are
sanding anyway. planning to fill previously stained wood, first seal in the
color w ith one or tvvo coats of transparent French polish
1 Sanding a fiat or sanding sealer. There is no need to fill th e grain of
suiface softwoods or close- grain hardwoods , such as birch or maple.
Tear a strip ]roll/ a
sheet of sandpaper to Using grain filler
wrap around a cork Dip a pad cif coarsely
sanding block or a woven burlap into
convenient block of the grain filler and
softwood. Sand in the rub if onto the wood
direction of th e grain , vigoro usly, using
and keep th e block circular strokes.
flat on th e work to R emove excess filler
avoid inadvertently from tl1e suiface by
rounding the edges cif rubbing across the
the workpiece. As the grain with a clean
work progresses, wipe pad of burlap, and
the wood dust off the use a pointed dowel
suiface and tap th e to clean out any
edge of th e paper on residue ofgrain filler
the bench to clear dust from moldings or
from th e grit. cmvings . Allow it to
dry overnight, then
2 Sanding with sand the suiface
shaped wood lightly in the
One way of sanding direction cif the grain.
simple moldings is
to wrap sandpaper Sanding sealer
around a previously Although it is not essential tO the finish, it is possible to
shaped block of wood produ ce a silky smooth smface on close-grain wood, such
or a dowel . When the as yellow cedar, birch , spruce , and m.aple , by spraying or
work feels smooth to brushing on a sanding sealer.
the touch, wipe all
suifaces with a damp Sealing the wood
cloth. Allow th e wood Always check bifore
to dry, then sand starting work that the
lightly with a fine- varnish you intend
grade paper to remove to use as a fiuislt will
the raised fibers of set satiifactorily over
the gra i11. sanding sealer. Sand
the tvork peifectly
3 Sanding with smooth a11d wipe off
folded sandpaper all wood dust bifore
Another technique is applying the sealer.
to fold th e paper into Allow the sealer
a narrow strip and to dry bifore carifully
sand the n1olding, mbbing it dot/Ill r11ith
using your fi ugertips. very fi11e sa11dpaper,
Sand and cleau out th en add a seco11d
th e corners and tight coat a11d allo11' it to
crevices with th e dry. Fi11ally, mb the
sharply fo lded edge of suiface do11'n 111ith
th e strip. Wipe and i\ 'o. 000 steel t11oo/
sand the wood as and apply yom
described above. choseufinish.
FINISHES: MODIFYING COLOR

,. MODJIFY!KG THE COLOR OF \YOOD


t will sometimes be necessaty to modify the
I color of the wood before yo u refinish a piece
. You may want to eradicate an isolated
of furniture
stain, for example, or to enrich the color of
wood that has been bleached by strong su nlight.
Occasionally, yo u w ill have to blend in a new
component using wood dye, although it may be
simpler to bleach both the old and new woods
so that yo u can stain them all the same color.
Removing isolated stains Bleaching out the color
Oxalic acid is the traditional wood bleach and is the ideal To change the color of a piece of wood, use a strong two- part
bleach for removing small stains. It is available in crystalline bleach. This is normally sold as a commercial kit containing
form from specialized restoration suppliers or the Internet, and both constituents in separate, clearly labeled containers .
it is often sold as a deck lightener. Store and mix oxalic acid Because not all woods bleach well, it is worth testing a small
only in glass or plasti c containers, never metal ones. sample beforehand.

1 Making an 1 Using two-


oxalic-acid part bleach
solution Brush the first
Fill a glass jar solution evenly onto
halfway with warm the surface to be
u;ater, then gradually bleached. Try not
add acid crystals, to splash adjacent
stirring them gently surfaces, and do not
until they dissolve allow the bleach
(never pour water solution to nm . After
onto acid crystals). abo11t 20 minutes,
Continue to add d11ri11g which time
crystals with a dry the wood may wrn
spatula, stirring them a darker color, apply
until you have a the second solution,
saturated solution- using another brush.
that is, when no
more CI}'Stals will 2 Neutralizing the
dissolve. Allow th e bleach
solution to stand for Allo~v the bleach to
about 10 minutes. ~vork for up to Jour
hours. As soon as
2 Applying the required color is
the bleach achieved, wash th e
Paint the solution wood thoroughly with
evenly onto the a weak acetic-acid
stained area, using a solution (1 pint /
white fiber or nylon 4 75 ml if ~11a ter pl11s
brush-bleach will a teaspoo11 if vi11egm).
destroy ordinal}' Let th e wood dry,
bristle paintbrushes . thw sa11d it smooth .
Allow the wood to
dry and add more
bleach if the stain USING WOOD BLEACHES SAFELY
Because we use bleaches every day as cleaning agents in our
homes we often regard them as harmless; however, we should
guard against becoming careless with them. Wood bleaches
are hazardous and must be stored where children cannot reach
them . W ear p ro tective gloves and goggles, and an apro n or
overalls. Ventilate your wo rkspace or work outside- in w hich
case, have a bucket of water handy, so that you can wash your
skin immediately if yo u get splashed with bleach.
_,.:·. ·

25
FINISHES: MODIFYING COLOR

Liming w ood Staining with wood d y e


Liming produces a distinctive Unlike paints and varnishes, which are surface
effect, w hich is traditionally
associated with oak furniture. finishes and do not actually change the color of the
The finish is created by filling wood itself, wood dyes soak right into the wood.
the deep pores in open-grain The color is permanent, even after stripping the
wood with a special wax
paste. Eve n w hen dry, the
surface finis h , unless you apply bleach . Wood dyes
white liming wax contrasts are used to enrich a dull-looking batch of wood or
with the darker wood, to modify the color of new wood so that it blends
emphasizing the grain with an old piece of furniture .
pattern. To prepare a piece of
furniture for liming, sand the
wood smooth and remo ve T ypes of wood d y e
any traces of grease by wiping Traditionally, wood dyes we re supplied in the form of dty
the smface with a cloth powdered pigments, w hich we re mixed to the required
dipped in mineral spirits. strength by the restorer. Similar powdered pigm ent dyes are
still available from specialized woodwo rking suppliers, but
1 Opening because only experience can teach yo u to mix specific colors,
the grain most amateur restorers prefer to use pre-mixed dyes, w hi ch
Using a clean wire are nowadays made in an extensive range of realistically
brush, scrub th e wood woodlike colors. You can mix compatible dyes to achieve
i11 011ly th e direction colors not offered in the manufacturer' s range, and it is also
of th e grain to clean possible to reduce the strength of color by adding th e
0111 the pores. Ch eck appropriate thinner (see opposite).
your progress by
reg11larly glancing
across the wood into FUMING WOOD
th e light to ensure You can chemically alter the color of woods that contain
that there is an even tannic acid by exposing them tO- ammonia fumes. Oak reacts
distribution cif open well to fuming, turning a rich golden brown. You can also
pores . If necessary, fume walnut, chestnut, and mahogany. Use a strong ammonia
apply wood dye solution (27 to 30 percent) , available from large office or
and seal the suiface printing supply stores (it is sold for blueprint copiers)-or
with a coat cif you could use ordinary household ammonia, but this takes
trm'ISparent shellac. considerably longer to have an effect. Before you fume the
work, remove any exposed metal fittings that could stain it.
Always wear safety goggles and a respirator when you are
handling a strong ammonia solution.
r"'I.I·
!:; I !
Building a
2 Applying fume tent
liming wax To make a fume
Dip a pad cif burlap tent, build a rMtgh
into th e lirn ing wax fram ework that
and rub it into the will surround the
gra i11 with circular workpiece, a11d drape
ovedappi11g strokes, a black plastic sheet
until th e suiface is over it. Erect the
evenly covered. Wipe structure outside, a11d
across the grain with place the workpiece
clean b~trlap, leaving inside the tmt, along
wax in the pores . with several shalloiv
/ifter 10 minutes, dishes containing
remove excess wax ammo11ia solution .
frorn the suiface by Seal the tent all
gently burnishing around 1vith adhesive
along the grain with tape, and leave the
a dry cotton cloth . workpiece for about
Apply a standard 24 hours to obtai11
wax polish the the desired result.
fo llowing day.

26
FINISHES: MODIFYING COLOR

Applying wood dye


Before you apply yo ur chosen wood dye to a piece of
furniture, always rest it for color and strength on a sample
of similar, if not identical. wood. Paint on tw o or three
o\·erlapping coats, then check the fin~ ! appearance by covering
the test sample with your intended finish .
If possible , set up the wo rk so that you are staining a
horizontal surface, even if that means turning the workpiece
as yo u proceed. T o prevent runs showing, always stain the
underside of a panel first.

1 Preparing
the suiface .. ,
The '"ood "" 'st be
clean, free fro m grease, .
and sanded Slnooth
in th e direction rif the
grain. An y cross-grain
scratches !Fill show
after staining.
To preiJent end
grain fro m absorbing
too IIIlich dark oil-
base dye, seal it with
a mix t11re of equal
parts mineral spirits
and linseed oil about
24 hours bifore you
stai11 the wood.
Water-bas e dyes obvious overlap marks. Fo r this
Water-base dyes are popular reason, even experts often choose 2 Staining
because they dry slowly, giving to spray alcohol-base wood dyes. the wood
an inexperienced restorer plenty Because both are thinned with Use a paintbrush or
rif time to achieve an even denatured alcohol, alcohol-base a broad paint pad to
distribution of color. You can dyes can be used to tint French apply a generous coat
modify th e result by applying polishes . Applying French polish of dye to the wood,
additional coats or, if the dye OiJer a alcohol-base dye may blending wet edges
is too dark, by swabbing th e dist11 rb th e color. and spreading the
freshly stained wood with a dye along the grain
damp cloth to remove some Oil-base dyes as nntch as possible.
of th e color. Most dyes stocked by local home- vVhen using a
Once dry, a water-base dye is improvement centers are oil-base wa ter-base product,
unaffected by subsequent finishes . (also called solvent-base), which innnediately mop up
Its one drawback is a tendency to · means that they can be thinned an y excess dye with
raise the grain, but this can be with mineral spirits. Th ey sho11/d an absorbent rag,
rninirnized by raising the grain not be confused with th e tru e distributing the
fi rst with water and sanding it alcohol-base dyes described above. color eiJenly.
smooth bifore staining. Although they dry relatiiJely
q11ickly, oil-base dyes are 3 Coloring
Alcohol-base dyes generally easy to apply. turned details
Some busy professionals use if you want to apply a You can 11se a soft
alcohol-base dyes because th ey poly11rethane vamish or 111ax cloth pad to rub dye
dry quickly. However, this can polish, first seal th e stained on to 111 med legs
be a setback f or many ama te11rs, wood with a shellac sanding and rails. W earing
who find it impossible to swab or sea/a . Oil-base dyes are only protective gloves, dip
brush on the dye without leaving available pre-mixed. th e rag into the dye,
sq11eeze it out, and
Stained varnish rub it onto th e wood.
To avoid having to strip a discolored or dull varnish, you can It is easy to use
overlay it with a coat of stained varnish. Available in the usual th e same meth od if
wood shades, stained polyurethane va rnish is hardwea ring, but you have to stain
it is best protected with a coat of clear varnish . vertical s111jaces.

27
FINISHES: FRENCH POUSH

FRIENCIHI lPOLIT H
n the Vic torian era, French polish was used has surrounded the technique for generations
.
I more than any other finish to impart a high
gloss to furniture m ade from mahogany and other
have tended to make it a daunting process for the
amateur. Traditional French polishing do es take
fashionable woods of the day. Consequently, as a practice to master, but the actual methods of
restorer yo u will almost certainly have to deal with applying the polish are relatively clearcut. The key
the prospect of refinishing with French polish at to a successful finish is not to rush the work, but
some time or other. Unfortunately, the sheer quality to build up a translucent film w ith a number of
of a French-polished surface and the mystique that thin coats applied over several days.
Preparing for polishing
As with any finishing process, it is essential that French Keep the room warm and dry- damp conditions may ca use
polishing is carried out in a dust-free environment with good milky "blooming" to develop as the polish dries. However, do
lighting. Ideally, it is best to always have a separate room for not use a fa n heater to warm the workshop , because this will
applying finishes instead of wo rking in the main workshop, disturb the dust again. Portable gas heaters release a great deal
but this is a luxury most amateur restorers cannot afford. of moisture into the air, so they are not suitable either.
A more realistic approach is to keep the shop as clean as Prepare the surface of the wood thoroughly and apply
possible and to make sure yo u vacuum the wo rkben ch wood dyes prior to polishing.
before yo u begin polishing, rememb ering to allow plenty Wear disposable gloves to protect yo ur skin fi·om solvents.
of time for any fine dust to settle. Surgical types are readily available don't intefere w ith dexterity.

TRANS PARE NT

DENATU RED
ALCOHOL

Rubbi11g shellac with steel wool dipped in wax produces a subtle sheen

Types of shellac
All French polishes are made by dissolving shellac in denatured
alco hol, but there are several varieties of shellac to choose
from. Standard button shellac is adequate for most jobs, but
dark red-brown garnet shellac is sometimes preferred for
restoring old mahogany furniture. Use milky "white" shellac
DISPOSABLE
or even transparent shellac for finishing pale- colored woods.
GLOVES Most home-improvement stores stock shellacs, or yo u can
obtain them from specialized woodwo rking suppliers.

28
NCHPOUSH

..
Making a rubbing 5 Wrapping the
French polish is applied with a "rubber," or rubbing pad, made pad
of upholsterer's wadding, cotton wool, or gauze wrapped in a Wrap all the
9- to 12-inch (225- to 300-mm) piece of w hite cotton . rriangular corners of
t/1e cloth over rhe
cw fer to forl/1 a
11ear package.

1 Folding the
wadding
Tear ~ff a 6- to
9-illdl (150- ro
225-mm) piece rif
wadding and fold it
in half Fold in the 6 Twisting
corners rif the rectangle the fabric
to fonn a triangle. Gripping the wrapped
pad in one hand,
/ t~llis t the loose fabric
I
2 Forming together to make a
the pad firm ntbbing pad.
Fold in the outer
comers of the triangle
to make a pointed
sausage-shape pad
with a smooth sole. 7 G ripping
the mbbing
Fold the twisted ends
rif the cloth over the
.
- back of the pad to
fash ion a handgrip,
leaFing a smooth,
3 Placing the pad crease-free sole.
Place the pad of wadding
diagonally across the center
rif th e piece rif cotton .

Loading the rubbing


At the beginning of the job, and each time the rubbing pad
begins to run dry, yo u should pour polish onto the wadding.
Neve r dip the rubbing into the shellac, and do not pour it
directly onto the sole.

Wetting the pad


Urifold the cloth a11d
pour on enough
shellac to wet the
pad without actually
saturating the
4 Folding wadding. R efold the
the cloth rubbing pad, and
Fold one half of the press it against a
cloth to cover the piece of scrap wood to
point of the pad. sq ueeze out surplus
shellac. S111 ear a drop
of linseed oil on to
the sole with your
fingertip; this will
lubricate the pad.

29
FINISHES: FRENCH POLISH

Applying the shellac


Sh ellac is distributed by stroking th e rubbing pad across the R eload the rubbing pad occasionally as it becomes dry,
wood. You need little pressure w ith a freshly loaded rubbing and add another drop of linseed oil if the sole begins to drag
pad, but as the work progresses, press harder to encourage the on the sl1lface of th e wood . Begin by sealing the wood with
shella c to flo w . Sweep the rubbing pad smoothly on and off slightly thinned sh ellac on a pad of wadding, using overlapping
the surface; never let the rubbing pad come to rest w hile in parallel strokes. Whenever not in use, store your rubbing pad
contac t with th e wo rk , or the sole will stick to the shellac . in a clean, airtight screw- top jar to prevent it from hardening.

1 Filling the grain 4 Rubbing


with shellac out blemishes
Th e first Jew Alloil' th e shellac to
applications f!ffull- dry ovem(gh t, then
strength shellac are l(ghtly sand out any
Hifjicient to fill close- blemishes or dust
gra ir1 wood. iVlake particles that have
overlapping cirwlar become embedded in
strokes with a the suiface. Use very
rubbing pad until .fine self- lubricating
you have covered silicon-carbide paper,
an entire panel to mbbing only along
the edges . the grain , and wipe
ciff th e dust with a
clean cloth.

2 Distributing the /'


5 Bodying up
polish evenly Give th e wood
Polish the same area miOth erfour or five
again , this time using coats of polish, with
.figure-ofeight strokes. ha!f-ho ur breaks
This combination if between applications,
different strokes will then allou1 it to
distribute the French harden once more.
polish even ly. Again, Gradually build up
r·nake sure you work a protective body of
right up to th e edges polish over three to
if the panel. Jo ur days until you
are satisfied with
the overall color
and appearance.

6 Sp iriting
R emove linseed-oil
streaks by "spiriting."
Dampen the mbbing ,.
pad with afew drops
of denatured alcohol.
Sweep the pad on and
off the suiface using
straight strokes, adding
denatured alcohol if
the pad begins to drag.
R epeat the process
every two or three
minutes until the
streaking disappears,
occasionally changing
the cloth to help
re111ove the oil.
FINISHES: FRENCH POLISH

Glossy or satin finish Brushing shellac


After spiriting, allow the surface to harden for half an hour and The furniture industrv inva riably employed traditional French-
buff it to a high gloss with a dry, clean cloth. Put the work polishing methods, but other trades sometimes resorted to
aside for abo ut a week until the polish has completely finished a simpler method of applying she!Jac-brushing it onto the
the hardening process. wo rk. Special she!Jac sold specifica!Jy for brushing contains a
retarding age nt that gives yo u enough time to paint it onto the
1 Burnishing wood; if you tried this wi th standard shellac, the surfa ce would
lf you are dissatisfied be covered with brushstrokes.
with the shine of the
completely hardened 1 Buildi~1g a
polish b•iff it, using protective coat
a cornmercial Apply rile firsr coat
burnishing cream 1vith a paintbr11sh,
or finish reviver. allow it to dry for
abo11t 20 min11tes,
th en rub down with
silico11 -Carbide paper.
R epeat th e process
twice more.

2 Flattening
Some restorers prifer
a slightly flattened
./
finish to a high gloss. 2 Rubbing with
Cut back the suiface steel wool
slightly with No. Apply soft wax
0000 steel wool polish to the now-
dipped in wax hardened shellac with
polish. Rub lightly a No. 0000 steel
along the grain until wool pad. Rub
the polish is matted gently along the
evenly, then wipe grain, making sure
over with a soft, you cover the whole
clean cloth . suiface evenly.

French-polishing
carved wood
It is not practicable to polish 3 Finishing with
carved work w ith a rubbing a soft cloth
pad. Instead, use a squirrel- Fin ally, bring th e
hair brush to paint slightly polish to a shine by
thinned shellac onto carving, b11rnishing with a
no t too thickly in case it runs. soft, clean cloth.
If yo u cannot buy a special
brush, make do with a soft
paintbrush. W hen the polish
has hardened, spirit the high
points with a rubbin g pad
and burnish with a soft cloth.
Do not rub too hard, or yo u
will wear through the polish.

31
VV X IPOLI H
ax polish , one of the oldest wood finishes,
W can be used as a dressing over shellac or
varnish , or it can be employed as a finish in its own
right. It is not a particularly hard-wearing finish , but
wax is easily renewed w ith additional coats w hen
necessary. It is popular, not only for its subtle sheen ,
but also for its ease of application ; even a beginner
can achieve successful results using wax polish .
Applying cream polish
Prepare the wood and seal it with a coat of transparent shellac
or sanding sealer, rubbing down lightly with very fine self-
lubricating silicon-carbide paper.

1 Applying the
polish
Pour some cremn
polish into a shallow
container and paint
it liberally onto the
wood with a paint-
bntsh. Allow the
wax to harden for
about an hour. Using paste polish
Prepare and seal the bare wood as described for applying
·-. cream polish (see left).
,__
1 Applying the
first coat
Wipe a cloth pad
2 Building up across the polish to
the finish pick up a generous
Apply th e second coat measure of wax,
with a soft cloth pad, and apply it, using
coveri11g th e suiface overlapping circular
u;ith cirwlar strokes strokes to cover the
and finishing parallel suiface evenly. Finish
with the grain. Allow this stage by rubbing
the wax to harden, with th e grain.
and add a third coat
if required.
~, . .... .

3 Bumishing the 2 Using steel woo


wax polish After about 15 to 20
Ajier an hour or two, 111inutes, apply more
use a clean, soft cloth polish, using a wad
to btif[ th e suiface of No. 0000 steel
vigorously in tlte wool, but this time
direction of the grain rub only in th e
w1til the wax shines direction of th e grain.
to your satisfaction . Gradually build a
protective coat of
polish, allowing the
wax to harden
betwee11 applications.
Finally, bumish with
a clean, sc:ift cloth.

32
FINISHES: OIL FINISHES

0 IL FI:"I"' I-IE"'
ost people associate an oil finish with
M relatively m odern furniture made from teak
or similar hardwoods, yet linseed oil has been in
use as a woo d finish for centuries. Present-day
oil finishes are so easy to apply that success is
prac tically guaranteed, even if you have no previous
experience in fini shing wood. Should the finish lose
its vitality w ith age, it can be revived with a coat of
fresh oil, provided the surface has not been waxed
in the m eantime.
Oil can be used on any wood, but its soft luster
WOOD-
FINISHING OIL
seem s particularly apt for stripped pine , which turns
a rich amber color when oiled. T he finish can be
Types of oil m arred by heat or w ater; however, all but the worst
Linseed oil is available if you stains disappear naturally within a short time.
wa nt an authentic oiled finish
for an old piece of furniture, Oiling wood
but it dries so slowly that dust U se the following methods to apply any oil finish; yo u may
Types of wax polish inevitably becomes imbedded need to thin tung oil slightly w ith mineral spirits before it w ill
W ax polish is made in a in the tacky smface. M odern , brush on successfully.
range of colors, from white fas t- drying oils are superior
to yellow, with w hich yo u for almos t all purposes. 1 Sealing
can crea te a beautiful mellow the smface
fini sh that does not alter the Tung oil rl.pply the firs t coat
color of the wood to any T 11ng oil, perhaps the 111ost of oil liberally with
great extent. A range of dark- durable of oil finishes, can take a wide paintbrush
brown "antique" polishes is up to 24 hours to dry, but a11y to CIISUre that th e
available to maintain the dust particles that stick to the suiface is "wetted"
patina of old furniture and suiface can be rubbed out with evenly. Bifore it
to hide fin e scratches. fin e silicon-carbide paper between dries, wipe th e s u •"",.,,.,L.AJ-o..;;;:.;~-
It is not necessary to fill the applications of the oil. wi th a scift cloth to
grain before applying a wax distribute and absorb
polish, but it is w orth sealing Danish and teak oils excess oil. Six hours
it with shellac to prevent dirt Tl1 ese finishes, based 011 t1111g oil, later, brush on a
from being absorbed and contain synthetic resins to create second coat and al!oJ7'l~~~~~~~~~
discoloring the wood. hard-JI'earingfinishes . Depending it to dry ovemight.
on fn lln idity and mnbient
Cream polish te111perature, teak and Danish
Polishes 111ith th e consistency of oils Il'ill dry 111ithin six hours.
tl1in creal// can be brushed onto
th e wood, gradually b11ilding a Edible oils 2 Creating the
protective coat of wax . Special "salad-boJPI" oils are sheen
aJJailable forfinishing chopping Apply anoth er coat
Paste polish boards and other 11100den ite11 1s of oi!J 11ith a soft ' ""·..--::o-::.

1W~~~~~~!!~;&il
Thick paste polishes, sold in fiat used to prepare and scwe food .
cans orfo il containers, are applied H owever, yo u can also use olive suifaceand
pad, bumish
111ith the
a clean,
wit/1 a cloth pad or fin e steel oil or so111e sin11"far nontoxic oil. soft cloth . For a silky
wool. Th ey make an ideal s111ooth satin finish,
dressing over anotherfi nish or al!oJI' the oit"to dry
for renewing wax polish. SPONTANEOU S co111pletely bifore
COMBUSTION bumishing lightly
Silicone polishes Oil gives offheat at it cities along the grain wit/1
It is best to avoid polishes that and oil-soaked fabric can burst a 111ad of No. 0000
contain silicones. Th ey can be into flames. Leave oily rags in steefll,ool.
b1!ifed easily to a relatively high a bucket of water overnight
gloss, but they are incompatible before disposing of them at a
with 111ost fi nishes, including hazardous waste center.
other wax polishes .
UE
, YARNISH, AND LACQ,;= R' - - - - - - - - '

p KI\'T, VARKK"' H, ~D L A CQL'ER


aints, varnishes, and lacqu ers are similar finishes Choosing a finish
P in that they lie on the surface of the woo d,
forming a prote ctive film. Traditionally, furniture
A modern hard- wearing
va rnish is a petfectly practical
alternative to paint; howeve r,
SAFETY WITH
SOLVENTS
Wood finishing is not a
m akers used clear finishes to enhance the pattern the results of stripping a piece particularly hazardous
with the intention of using a activity, but it is best
of the grain, w hile opaque paints were primarily to always take sensible
clear fin ish ma y lead yo u to
employed to disguise inferior m aterials. Softw ood consider repainting. For precautions w hen using
once fell into this latter category and, apart fro m example , the original makers solv ent-base varnishes
wo uld not ha ve used the and paints .
kitchen tables and chairs, w hich were ofte n ritually
best-quality softwood for
scrubbed once a week , most pine furniture, such painted wo rk; even knotty e Ventilate th e workshop
as dressers and chests of drawers, would have been pine was considered second- w hen using finishes, and
painted. In contrast, today's furniture restorers prefer ra te. The strippin g process wear a respirator, especially
may also re veal open joints if yo u have any respirato ry
the appearance of softwood w ith a clear fini sh . or ugly splits that we re once problems.
WATER-BASE
disguised w ith filler. e Always store solve nt-base
ACRY LI C VARN ISH materials w here children
cannot reach them . If you
need to deca nt paints,
va rnishes, or thinners, label
the new containers clearly,
and don 't store them where
they could be mistaken for
food or a beve rage .
Clear vamishes
Solvent-base varnishes are little e If a child appears to have
more than paints without th e swallowed a finish or thinner,
solid colored pigments . These don 't indu ce him or her to
extremely tough wood finishes vo mit, but seek urgent
are watetproof and resistant to m edical advice .
heat, making them ideal for • If you get a solve nt or
11tilitarian furniture that must finish in your eyes, flu sh
put up with everyday wear and them with running wa ter,
tear. JV!ade fro m synthetic resins, and if symptoms persist,
s11ch as polyurethane, clear consult a doctor at once.
varnishes have a glossy, semi-
matte (sa tin), or matte sheen . • If possible, store flanunable
Son1e varnishes have to be materials outside the house
mixed 1vith a catalyst before they in a shed or garage. D on't
can be used. Th ese two-part sm oke, either when using
varnishes ex11de 11npleasant solvent-base m aterials or in
Ordinary household paint is fumes, and they are not as a workshop w here they are
peifectly acceptable for fin ishing convenien t to use as a standard, drying on wood.
wooden fi tmitllre. vVith most ready-to-apply vamish . e D on 't clean paint or
solvent-base paints it is necessary Vllater-base acrylic varnishes varnish from your skin with
to first apply a primer to seal are practically odorless, but make a thinner. Instead, wea r a
the wood. Th e final coat of mre yo11 dampen the wood and barrier cream and use a
paint, which can ha ve a matte, sand it doum before varnishing commercial skin cleanser
semi-11wtte (also known as to prevent raised grain from or wann soapy water.
satin), or glossy sheen, will spoiling the fi nish.
provide th e req11ired s111jace e N ever pour solvents down
coloring. There are also one-coat Cellulose lacquer the drain. Ask your local
paints available, which do not 1\!Iuch of th e f urnitllre cooperative extension for
require primi11g. 1/Jalltifactllred during the 1920s advice on careful disposal.
Water-base acrylic paints dry and 1930s was sprayed with
so quickly that yo11 can finish a cellulose lacq11er, a fast -drying,
piece offi trnitll re in a single day, aln1ost water-clear finish. If you
but th ese paints m11st be applied do not have access to spray
in a dry atmosphere because any eq~11p111 ent, yo11 call use a
damp or humidity can prevertt brushing version of cellulose
th em from drying properly. lacq11er (see opposite).
Applying finishes with a brush
Applying finish es w ith a paintbrush is relatively m ake do with well-made brushes w ith synthetic
easy; a degree of care and patience is all you need bristles . You 'll need som e general-purpose 1 and
to achieve first-class results. N atural hog bristles are 2 inch (2.3 and 50 mm)-wide paintbrushes, plus a
considered to m ake the best brushes, but you ca n 4 inch (100 m m)- w ide brush fo r large flat surfaces.
Applying varnish Brushing cellulose lacquer
After preparing the wood, apply a sealer coat of \·arnish Because cellulose lacq uer dries so rapidly, you m ust brush
thinned by 10 to 20 percent with mi neral spirits. Either brush relati \·ely quickly to avoid leaYing brushstrokes or ridges in
on the sealer coat or rub it into the grain with a soft cloth pad. the finish. Apply two or three coats, rubbing dow n between
them wi rh Ye ry fine silicon- carbide pap er.
Loading the brush
Dip only the tip of Bmshing on the
tl1e brush into th e lacqu er
vamish, and flex th e Use a soft cloth to
bristles against the apply a sealer coat ~f
inside cif th e container lacquer thinned by
to re111ove excess 50 percent. Brush
.finish. Don't scrape on furth er coats of
th e bntsh across th e f ull-strength lacquer,
lip of th e co11 tainer; holding the bristles
this creates air at a shallo111angle to
bubbles that 111ay th e li'O rk and 1no ving
beco111e trapped in it with long, straight
th e setting iJamish. overlapping strokes;

Varnishing a
fiat suiface
don't spread it out
like iJamish or pain t. . ..
Bmsh the vam ish Burnishing the

~f!t};;_~~et~
onto a fla t suiface, final coat
spreading it e1Je11iy If the.fina/.finish is
in all directions bifore less than peifect, wb
applying light strokes do111n th e last coat of
along the grain. Blend cellulose lacquer wiih
in the 111et edges as lJery fin e silicon-
you go to prwent carbide paper and \ " :_

bntshstrokes fro Ill polish th e suiface


spoiling t!Je.finish. 111ith a finish reviver
Apply at least two or bumishing crea111.
coats cif vamish.

Vamishing Applying paint


moldings Apply conventional solvent-base paint as if it were varnish,
Brushing across a spreading the finish with a brush. D on 't spread out thixotropic
111oldi11g invariably (non-drip) one-coat paint or ac rylic water-base paints, but
makes a teardrop of brush these finishes on with more- or-less parallel strokes,
iJamish ru n fro m the allowing the brushstrokes to flow naturally.
bristles of a loaded T o remove hardened paint runs or imbedded particles of
brush. A h11ays bntsh dust, dip a strip of we t-and-dry paper in wa ter and sand the
along 11/oldings, smface smooth . Wipe off the debris w ith a cloth and repaint.
lllorking OlltlJiard
.(1·o1n a comer. Sealing knots
Knots in new
s~woo d can exude
resin that "bleeds"
M odifying the finish through paintwork.
Matte varnish dries \Yirh a fi nely textured smface. For a similar Seal them with two
fi nish that is also smooth to th e touch, rub down a glossy or three coats cif 3-/b.
n rnish with o. 000 steel wool. Produce a sofi: sheen by a111ber shellac or a
di pping the steel wool in wax poli h and buffing rhe smface COII1111ercial product
afterwa rd with a clean. soft cloth. designed to seal knots.
FINISHES: PAINT, VARNISH, AND LAC UER

Spraying finishes SAFETY PROCED URES


No one would dispute that spraying paints, Check with your local cooperativ e extension that you
varnishes, and lacquers produces a sup erb finish, but are permitted to spray wood finishes in your home
unless you intend to restore plenty of furniture , it workshop without contraven ing fire or health-and -
safety regulation s.
is not worth the necessary investmen t in time and
money to equip yourself for spraying wood finishes. e Make sure that the e Don't leave spraying
workpiece is always between equipment unattended w h ere
Although it is possible to hire spray guns and o ther you and a spray-booth children could misuse it.
equipmen t, you w ill still need to erect a safe spray extractor fan to ensure that • If yo ur spray gun is fitted
booth unless you are prepared to work outdo ors. the spray is drawn away with a safety lock, always
from you. keep it engaged except w hen
Spraying equipmen t and facilities e Never aim a spray gun at in the process of spraying.
A spray gun atomizes the finish, producing a fine " mist" of anyone or yourself. e Unplug the equipment and
paint, va rnish, or lacquer, which is deposited onto the surface • Don't smoke or allow release the air pressu re before
of the work. Consequen tly, yo u can produce a more evenly naked flames in the vicinity attempting to clear a blocked
distributed coating than is possible by painting on the same when spraying. spray gun.
fmish with a brush.

Spray guns Compressor Spray booth Thinning the finish for


Squeezing the trigger cif a spray Air is pressurized by a compressor To spray safely indoors, constwct spraying
gun opens a valve that allows and fed to the spray gun througl1 a simple enclosed booth from Although it is possible to
compressed air to flow through a flexible hose. An electric Nlaso11ite panels 11ailed to a buy cellulose lacquer, for
the gun. There it is mixed with compressor that plugs into an lightweight softwood fra mework . example, in a consistency that
paint, varnish, or lacquer drawn electrical outlet is the 111ost You should line rhe inside with is already ideal for spraying,
from a reservoir in the fo rm of a convenient type. Check with th e replaceable sheets of paper to most paints and varnishes are
gravity feed cup mounted on top supplier that th e compressor you absorb any excess spray. too thick and must be diluted
cif the gun or a canister carried are considering is safe to use Mount an extractor Jan in with the appropriate thinners.
below, from which the finish is within a spray booth; if 11ot, you th e rear of th e booth to remove
siphoned by the flow cif air. The will have to install it o~1tside, solvent fu mes, and cover th eJan T esting the viscosity
atomized finish emerges from a with a connection for the hose inlet with a gauze filter to trap Prcifessional sprayers use a special
small hole in the center cif a passing through the booth wall. airborne particles. funnel called a viscosity cup to
nozzle known as the air cap . Stand a lazy Susan for the check that a finish is the right
You can adjust the spray pattern Protective equipment workpiece in front cif the extractor consistency for spraying, but
fro Ill a narrow cone to a wide Jan, Always wear goggles and a Jan. Your cheapest option is to you can follow a simple rule
depending on whether you are respirator when spraying, even build your own, using a disc of of thumb. Thin a batch of the
coating slender components, such when you are working outside. particleboard mounted onto a n!quired finish accordir1g to the
as the legs cif a chair, or a la rge discarded swivel-chair base. manufacturer's recommendations,
fiat area, such as a tabletop. Th e atmosphere inside a spray then stir it with a stick. Lift
booth can be highly flammable, the stick from the finish and
so you shMdd install special obse~ve how the liquid runs from
explosion-proof lamps con trolled the tip. lf it runs smoothly and
from outside. continuously, it is ready for
spraying; if it flows spasmodically ,
add a little more thinner. Always
test the viscosity of a finish by
spraying a scrap board bifore you
try it on an actual workpiece.

36
FINISHES: PAINT VARNISH

Spraying techniques Spraying a tabletop


Spraying wood finishes can be very satisfYing, once It is probably best to remove a tabletop from its frame and lay
it horizontal on your lazy Susan. Spray the underside first, and
you have mastered the basics of achieving an even w hen that is dry, turn the top over.
coverage. Most of the disappointing results achieved
by beginners stem from applying too much or too Coating the
smf ace evenly
little finis h to the surface. Spray the edges first,
Spraying a panel and then make
To spray a vertically mounted panel, adjust the spray gun to overlapping passes
produce a ve rtical , fa n-shaped spray pattern. to coat the tabletop,
--- holding the gr 111 at
4 5 degrees to the
suiface. Work away
jro111 your body;
aud take care not
to accidentally strike
tl1e work with the
paint canister that is
rnounted below so111e
styles of spray gu11.
--- Finishing legs and rails
If yo u are finishing a chair or table frame, always spray the
inside of the rails and legs first.

Spraying sq uare
legs
When spraying a
square leg, you can
cover two su ifaces
1 Making a straight pass simultaneously by
With the spray gun aimed to one side of the panel, squeeze the aiming the gun at the
trigger, then make one continuous pass across the work. Don't release comer of the leg.
the trigger until the spray pattern clears the opposite side of the par1el.
Flex your wrist so that the spray gun is pointing directly at the
work throughout th e pass, and keep the nozzle about 8 inches
(200 mm) from the suiface. Don't swing the spray gun in an arc,
even if it seems easier, because you won't coat the panel_fl!enlJ~
- - --- -- I \
- -- I \ Spraying inside a cupboard
Finish the interior of a cupboard before yo u spray the outside.
I I

- ==7~====:::::=;:::::::;1·-17_
l . . . \ \1I
Planning a
sequence
I\ i Choose a convenient
\_ I I
sequence that deals
I-·-" I
rvith each panel in
0
I I turn. For example,
\
\ I start with the top
I panel, then spray
' down one side and
across the hack panel.
Treat the remaining
side panel next, and
finish by spraying th e
bottom one.

2 Overlapping passes
Make a return pass in th e opposite direction so that th e spray pattem
overlaps the first pass by about 50 perce11t. Make similar overlappi11g
passes rmtil you have coated th e en tire panel.

37
FINISHES: STENCILING

§TIE JCRLH~G
tenciling has been used for centuries to decorate
S walls and floors, as well as items of furniture.
Border patterns can be found on tabletops, for
exam.ple, and central motifs are used to embellish
door panels, drawer fronts, and chair backs. You
can either cut your own stencils to restore existing
worn paintwork, or buy ready-made stencils to
paint inexpensive items in a folk-art style.
Stencils
Craft stores offer a wide selection of stencils w ith traditional
patterns and motifs cut from oiled cardboard o r tra nsparent
ace tate. Blank sheets of the sam e materials are available if you
want to design your own stencils, or yo u can buy printed
stencils that yo u can cut out yo urself Multicolo red patterns
are m ade using two or m ore matching stencils.

Stencil brushes
Use special brushes with square-cut fillings of short bristles
to stipple paint onto the smface . You may need a range of
brushes, depending on the scale of the stencil-yo u should
use one brush for each color.
ARTI STS'

Paints
Just about any paint can be used for stenciling but, apart from
specialized stencil paints, perhaps the best are tubes of acrylic
artists' paints. They are available in small quantities in a wide
range of colors and , m o re importantly, th ey dry quickly.
It is a good idea to choose a limited 'ra nge of muted colors
instead of bright garish ones . Applying them in graded tones
w ill create the appea rance
.
of aged, handcrafted work . Mix
.
pa1nts to a creamy conSIStency .
Yo u can stencil onto unfinished wood sealed w ith thinned
matte va rnish or sanding sealer. Or yo u can apply a base coat
STENCI L of water-base household acrylic paint or conve ntional solvent-
BRUSHES base paint, using one with a matte o r semi-matte (satin) finish.
If yo u decide to stencil onto a sur£Ke that has already been
painted, first clean the paintwo rk by washing it down w ith
a heavy-duty detergent, such as trisodium phosphate (TSP ,
available from paint supply stores), to rem ove traces of grease.
Allow the paint to dry thoroughly before stenciling.
FINISHES: STENCILING

Making stencils Stenciling with a brush


T o re-create a pattern, use a pencil to trace the original and Secure the stencil to the wo rkpiece w ith m asking tape; the
transfer th e design to a sheet of stencil material. When using stencil must be held completely flat along its length, or the
transpa rent acetate, trace from the draw ing, using a fine felt-tip paint will creep under the cut edges .
pen with compatible ink. To copy onto oiled cardboard , lay
yo ur pencil tracing facedown on the stencil and draw over the 1 Apply ing
linework to transfer the pattern to the cardboard. Make sure the color
the stencil has a large border all aro und the design. You can Dip j ust the tip of
use similar m ethods to m ake a stencil from your own design . th e ste11cili11g brush
in a saucer of paint
C utting the a11d blot th e brush on
stmcil a paper towel until
Lay the stencil on a th e bristles are al111ost
plastic cutting board, dry. Stipple paint
or use a new sheet cif around the edges of
cardboard. Cutting on each wtout shape,
toughened glass keeps th e11 fill i11 the
stencil edges crisp, b1-tt 111idd/e. Gradually
the glass blunts knife build up tl1e color,
blades rapidly. grading the tone as
Use a craft knife, required; th e pai11t
and turn the stencil 111ill always look
i11stead of twisting th e darker when the
blade of th e knife to stencil is re111oved.
follow th e li11es.
2 L ifting
R epairing the stencil
a bridge Hold o11e edge of th e
Detailed stencils are stmcil fi mdy 011 th e
reiriforced by leaving work as you peel
narrow strips of paper back th e opposite
to bridge the gaps . edge to check your
lf yo11 sever a bridge progress . Wh en you
or crack an acetate fi nish applying one
stencil, repair it with color, re111ove th e
adhesive tape on stmcil and wipe it
both sides, trimming clean 111ith a da111p
the tape.flush with rag. Don't stencil
the cut edges . auoth er la yer until
th e paint is dry, but
R egistering you can transfer th e
stencils stencil to another part
To apply each color of of th e workpiece.
a multicolored pattern,
make a series of 3 P rotecting
separate stencils . stmciling
When using oiled Allow the paintwork
cardboard stencils, to dry ovemight, th en
punch holes through apply two protective
all cif the111 in the coats cif 11/atte or
same place so that you eggshell vamish.
can dra~v registratio11
111arks on the wood or
background with a
soft pencil. Erase
th ese marks when the
painting is complete.
A cetate stencils are
tmltspamlt-register
the111 by traci11g
selected shapes i11
j
i11k 011 the plastic.
fiNISHES: Gn.DING
C LEAR
LA C QUER
GJLDJ:"G
FINISHING ~~"""=ifflll

epairing items gilded w ith real gold leaf is no t LI QU ID

R reco mmended for the am ateur. N ot only does


it requ ire considerable time and prac tice to become GESSO

proficient, but th e materials are expensive and you GILT


need a numbe r of specialized tools. In the long run,
it makes economic and prac tical sense to employ a
professional gilder.
H owever, many so-called gilded items are m erely
covered w ith a brass alloy or some form of gold
paint or varnish . Base- me tal leaf is about one- WAX
quarter of the price of gold, and handling it is no t
as demanding. There are also a number of products
with w hich yo u can retouch inexpensive picture
frames and mirrors.
Retouching dilapidated frames Refinishing gold-colored frames
It is no t always advisable to refin ish an old fram e just because W hile rummaging through secondhand sto res o r fl ea m arkets,
it is showing signs of w ear. Even cheap fram es improve in look for old picture fram es that can be given a new lease of
appearance o nce their original shiny fini sh has mellowed and life , using a combinati o n of gilt fi nishes . They m ay have been
the dark base color shows thro ugh o n the high points. These originally gilded but were pai nted over as styles changed. U se
are qualities wo rth preserving, although you nu ght want to the sam e ma terials if yo u wa nr ro " gild" a new fram e.
disguise scra tches, and patch holes o r chipped moldings . Preparation is an important stage for any fi nish , but gilding
Gilt w ax sticks are ideal fillers, and softer wax crayo ns are looks particularly cheap unless it is applied ro an immaculately
sold in sets comprising a range of gold colo rs and to nes fo r prepared smface . Ru b down and fill the grain, or sm oo th
ro uching in scratched fi·am es. a painted fra me w ith wet-and-dry paper.

H iding scratches 1 A pply ing


Rub tile crayon across Fontenay base
the scratch until th e This base seals and
red or wli ite base provides a traditio11al
color is obliterated, dark-red 1111dercoat.
then gently scrape th e Pai11t it 011to rile
!/lax off th e suiface suiface a11d allow it
111itli flexib le plastic. to dry to a liard coat,
Try mixiug colors to rlie11 ntb dow11 lightly
make a close match. 111itli 1\ -o. 0000 steel
I( this does 11ot work, wool or very ji11e
}'oil can smear tile silico11-carbide paper.
filled scratch with a A seco11d coat may be
-little gilt crea111 on required for tile righ t
your_fingertip. dept/1 of color.

Filling holes 2 A pplying gilt


To patch a hole or cream
rebuild chipped Gilt crem11 is a soft
moldi11g, mt a pea- 111axy paste in a
st.::c piece t{fillillg range ofgold colors.
11'<1.\" cllld place it 011 Rub it onto th e
c1 mdimor {(l so(tell. suiface 111itli your
) ·ou Wll also k11ead fingertip or a soft
fll'o ll'axes together to cloth, using cirw lar
achicl'e a good march. stro kes to spread tile
Press rhe so(t ll'ax paste evenly. Finish
imo rhc hoie a11d with straight parallel
smooth ir let~elll'ith strokes. Use an old
a craft k11!fe or yo11r tooth bntsli to ntb
tlwmbllail. Fi11ish crea111 into carvings
with gilt cream. a11d moldings.
FINISHES: GILDING

3 Burnishing Gilding with metal leaf


and protecting Metal leaf or common leaf is an inexpensive
Allow the gilt cream
to hardw for at least substitute for genuine gold leaf. It is an alloy of
12 hours, then base metals available as very thin 4 inch (100 mm)
burnish the suiface squares, bound in books of 25 sheets. It is easier to
with a sofi cloth .
apply than gold leaf, but it must be protected with
Only mb hard if
you want to show the a varnish or "glaze" to prevent discoloration.
red base at th e high Metal leaf has been employed for centuries for
points. if you don't work where the price of gold was prohibitive, so
like the result, apply
111ore cream. Gilt recreating a gilt frame with base metal is perfectly
cream provides a acceptable in terms of authentic restoration.
per111anent finish,
similar to wax polish; Preparing a wood surface
protect it by painting M ake sure yo u eliminate any blemishes and sand a wooden
on gilt finishing frame as smooth as possible. Wipe it with mineral spirits to
liquid, which has an remove any traces of grease before you apply a traditional
extra glossy finish. gesso undercoat. Professional restorers often m ake their own ,
but a commercial synthetic gesso is ideal for m etal lea( It is
Using gilt varnish available as a dark red paste for gold-colored leaf; but there is
Gold-colored vamish w ill gild a fram e quickly. It m ay not also a w hite gesso for silve r leaf Gesso can also be used as a
be as satisfactory as usin g a gilt cream , but it's ideal separate glue to repair old pieces of broken gesso.
intricate moldings or sm all sections of the fram e itself For a
rich fini sh , apply gilt cream over a coat of gilt vamish . 1 Applying
the gesso
Applying f Varni th e gesso in
tlie varnish a bain -111arie or glu e
Prepare the suiface pot until it is liquid
and paint it with enough to be bmshed
Fontenay base. Use onto the suiface.
a soft paintbrush to Don't allow excess
apply gilt varn ish, paste ro collect in
taking care not to carved areas or
leave a streaky finish. 111oldings. Alloll'
Use a pointed artists' the gesso to dry
brush to varn ish ovemight, th en mb
small sections. dolll/1 ligh tly with
.fine 111er-and-dry
Aging a gilt finish paper. Apply fo ll r or
If a new gilt finish looks too " raw" for yo ur taste, give it a .five coats to achieve a
worn appearance by rubbing the high points vigorously w ith a sn1ooth slliface ready
soft cloth until the red undercoat begins to show through. If for gilding.
necessary, use No. 0000 steel wool, but abrade gently.
2 Sealing gesso
Rubbing with dark Use a mbbing pad
wax polish to seal the suiface
To "age" a new gilt with an application
fin ish, rub on dark, cif shellac mixed
"an tique" wax polish half-and-half with
with yourfingertip . denat11red alcohol.
Burnish with a soft Yo11 can erase 1111y
cloth to remove wax blnnishes after th e
from the high points sealant is completely
and leave a dark- dry by mbbing the111
colored residue in gently with fine,
deeper crevices and No. 0000 steel
n10/dings. Apply wool dipped in soapy
colored 111ax over gilt water. Thoroughly
cremn, thw coar u1irh dry the suiface with
gilt .finishing liquid. a soft cloth.

41
FINISHES: GILDING

Sizing the surface 2 Applying


Apply a coat of commercial sizing, w hich serves as an adhesive metal leaf
fo r the m etal leaf. As the leaf must be applied at j ust the right Usi11g both hands,
moment, it is best to divide a large item into easily ma nageable carefully pick up each
sectio ns in such a way that j oints w ill not show . strip of mt leaf and
lay it face doum 011
1 Painting the sized suiface. Rub
with sizing it down firmly witlt
Brush on an even yourJingertips before
coat of sizing, using peeling off the tissue
light, parallel strokes. backing.
Paint up to all tile
edges, and make sure
that there are no runs 3 Joining pieces
or similar blemishes of leaf
in the sizing. Apply the 11ext strip
of leaf in the sa11te
way, overlapping the
piece you have just
laid by about Jf inch
(3 mnt). Conti1111e
overlapping strips
2 Testing the till til you lwve covered
sizing at least one sized
It is important that sectio11. Size the
the sizing is firm but adjacent sections i11
has just eno ugh turn and apply metal
adhesion to hold the leaf until the entire
leaf in place. Follow workpiece is gilded.
the mamifactu rer' s
recommendations, but 4 Patching with
also check by gently skewings
touching the suiface Remove overlapping
with )'Mtr knuckles . sections cif leaf and
It is ready for gilding blend the joints by
wlte/1 the suiface feels brushing them with
slightly tacky but an ox-hair brush.
does not show tile Brush 011ly in tlze
marks where your directio11 of the
knuckles touched. overlaps, placing
cardboard beneath
Gilding with metal leaf the workpiece to
Before yo u handle m etal leaf, dust your hands w ith talcum collect the scrap leaf,
powder to preven t the leaf from disintegrating in your fi ngers . or skewings. Pick up
skewings on the tip of
1 Preparing the bristles and brush
metal leaf the111 onto any ti11y
Prepare a book areas of exposed base.
cif meta/leaf by
removing its outer 5 Burnishing
covers and wtting metal leaf
off the spine with The following day,
scissors . With its burnish the leaf
tissue backing intact, en tly with cotton
cut each individual wool until the metal
leaf into suitable shines softly. To
squares or rectangles prevent tarnishing,
to fit the workpiece. coat the gilded suiface
lightly with a dear
_ metal lacquer.
FINISHES: METAL.__ __.

here are relatively few pieces of furniture made Cleaning tarnished brass
T from metal. You m ay be lucky enough to pick
up a cast-iron ga rden seat or table, although they
When left exposed to the air, brass rums a dull- brown color.
The laye r of oxidation is usually thin and can be removed
easily with a commercial m etal polish, but it sometimes helps
w ill probably be expensive items these days, and to wash heavily tarnished brass with a natural acid .
there are similar pieces constructed from w ro ught
iron. Apart from the tubular-steel furniture designed Cleaning brass
Cut a leJIIOII i11 half
in the 1920s and 1930s, yo u are not likely to come a11d spri11kle it with
across any interior furniture m ade from m etal. salt. Rub the 111etal
H owever, a knowledge of how to clean and polish 111ith th e sa /red fl esh
ofthefruit 1111til th e
different m etals w ill be invaluable w hen you are tamishi11g sojte11s.
faced w ith the restoration of painted or rusty door .rln altemative
handles, strap hinges, castors, and other hardware. 111ethod is to 111ix a
tablespool/ of vi11egar
Stripping painted metal 111ith o11e of salr i11
Yo u can have large items of furniture dipped or even 1 cup (235 111/)
sandblas ted w ith out any of the potential disasters that migh t of hot water. D ip
occur with wooden furniture. If yo u wa nt to do the work No. 0000 steel
yo urself, try using one of the commercial ch em ical paint wool i11 tl1is solutio11
remove rs; however, stripping an ornate piece of furnitu re is a11d rub to reJIIOJJe
liable to be time-consuming. T here is no point in trying to tile corrosio11.
use a hot-air gun- the me tal merely dissipates the heat .
Polishing brass
1 Stripping small After cleaning brass
metal items hardu,are 111ith a
Re111ove door handles, 11atura/ acid, bumish
eswtcheons, and other it with a lo11g-tenll
flilrdware covered with polish . if you want
paint, and place then1 to protect brass jro11J
in a s!Jal!ow foil dish. f urt!Jer corrosion,
Pour a liquid chemical paint each item with
stripper over the metal a clear lacquer that is
and use a small specially form ulated
paintbrush to stipple for metal.
the paint remover
onto the hardware
uutil every suiface
is covered.
P ainting iron furniture
Steel and iron doo r furniture o r drawer handles can be left
unprotec ted indoors, provided the atmosph ere is dry . If hinges
begin to show shines of corrosion, w ipe them occasionally
2 Cleaning off with an oily rag or sm ear them lightly w ith petroleum jelly.
softened paint
f;Vearing protective Protecting
gloves, 111ipe off the iron furniture
sojtmed paint with Iron garden f umiture
111ads of No. 0000 needs to be protected
steel wool-don't use from the elements, or
a coarse grade in case it will rust in a very
the hardware has been short time. Coat th e
plated with a sift bare metal with a
metal. Apply more rust-inhibitive pri111er
stripper if tl1ere are fo llowed by a good
traces of paint so /ve11t-based
adhering, then when undercoat and paint.
the 111etal is peifectly
clean, 111ash it in hot
111ater and dry gently
111ith paper tOJ/Iels.
CHAKIRS ANID
BENCHES
CHAIRS HAVE FASCINATED DESIGNER S and
makers for centuries, and they continue to do
so today. Perhaps more than any other piece
of furniture, a chair tests the skills of its
creator, for it must closely relate to the human
form to be comfortable, be constructed to
resist the co nsiderable forces placed upon it in
use, and be visually interesting and attrac tive.
Generations of furniture makers have
produced a va t number of pieces that present
a eemingly endle choice for the restorer.
orne were ucce ful olutions, others not,
bur each ha a place in the history of chair-
making- and example~ that have survived the
ravages of time deserve to be preserved.
CHAIRS AND BENCHES: CONSTRUCTION

CJH KR COK T RUCTI00


or all their diversity of style, chairs are for the
F most part principally m ade of woo d, and broadly
use one of three m ethods
fRAME C HAIRS
The typical frame chair has seat rails attached to the
of construction: frame front and rear legs . Mortise-and-tenon joints are
construction, stick constru ction, and bentwood. m ost common, but dowel j oints may also be found,
The development of cast iron in the nineteenth particularly in machine-nude reproduction chairs.
century and bent steel in the twentieth century gave The strength of the chair is dictated by the size of
designers th e opportunity to develop alternative the joints and, to some extent, by the section and
methods of construction, but the older, " traditional" shape of the component. In order to co unter the
techniques based on wood still prevail. Typical considerable strain exerted on the seat frame, the
examples of chair designs are illustrated here, and rails are usually set on edge to create a longer
they show the methods of construction and the vertical shoulder against the lever ac tion of the legs.
problems you are likely to encounter. In some cases, the seat rails are joined to ge ther to

SPLAT-BACK FRAME CHAIR


- =-=- - -- Crest rail
Saum and shaped from one piece
of wood. Th e weak short grain at
each end of th e rail call easily
break (see page 66).
Splat
This thin, sometim es
veneered, solid-wood
panel ca11 split.

e-lf -- Back posts


Strongly w rved shapes wt fro m
solid wood can result in weak
short grain. Stub -teno11 joints
into th e crest rail are weak points
Shoe (see page 65).
A shaped rail g/11 ed
the back seat rail to
receive th e tenon of
the splat.

Q11een-Anne-style reproductio11 .-r-..-- -- Back seat rail


Ten oned into th e back legs .

Drop, or slip, seat


A webbed, usually beech
frame, padded with
hair and wadding . Th e '--7'7j<F---,,L......-- Corner blacks
webbing may sag and th e Th ese are glued i11to 11otches or
cover wear (see page 81) . screwed and glu ed to a11 inside
fa ce of tl1e rails to stiffell the
frmll e. Ca11 be loose or missing.
Cabriole leg -----~ This is a straight or
Shaped from one piece of w1ved rail tmol'led Side seat ra ils
wood, except for th e kn ee in to the franf legs . Tenoned intofro nt aud back legs
block. Thin sections or and rabbeted to receive a seat
short grain at the foot can pad. Back j oints may break
break (see page 62). (see page 56). Th e absence of
Knee block stretcher rails will put 111ore strain
Clu ed to th e leg to complete th e 011 th e joi11 ts.
shape, this call break off
CHAIRS AND BENCHES: CONSTRUCTION

make a flat frame , thus creating a lighter-looking


chair. The seat is usually caned or upholstered w ith
a shallow seat pad. These chairs are not very strong
and are most often reserved for occasional use , for
example, in a bedroom.
Stretcher rails set at a low level betwee n the legs D esign !lariations
help to resist the tw isting forces applied to the chair. T ypical exa111ples of_{l-mne chairs.
Fram e chairs that feature strong, curved lines and 1 Chippendale sryle 111ith padded
upholsrered sear.
carved features w ill probably be m ore difficult to 2 Vicroria~~ double-C balloon-
repair than simple and unornam ented chairs. Th ey back 111irh caned seat.
j w ill require large secti ons of wood from w hich to
cut the shaped part.
3 Srraight-backed 1930s dining
chair 111irh drop -in sear.

B ALLOON- BACK
FRAME CHAIR Crest rail
This is saum f rom one piece of
solid 1/!0od and doweled to the
back legs . The short weak grain
at th e ends may break .

Stuffed seat
The seat fram e is
webbed underneath
and fi tted with
coil springs. The C ross rail
upholstery is liable Two ned into the back of the leg
to wear, and it will posts, it may be carved as shoum
need to be removed or wrved in a similar way to th e
to make repairs to crest rail to form a hoop shape.
th e seat frame.
Back seat rail
Tenoned info the back legs and
covered with upholstery, the seat
rails are pro ne to ilifestarion by
wood-boring insects. Th ey also
split due to nail holes jro111
re-covering work.

Side seat rails


Twoned into the back and fro nt
legs. T he rails 111ay be co111plerely
covered or nwde to shou' a
polished beading.

Tum ed legs
Shaped 011 a lath e, th ese are lt'eak
111here th e wood is reduced in
dia111eter. Brass sacker casters are
so111eti111es Jitred, and these can break.

917
.___ _~C~HAIRS AND BE CHES: CONSTRUCTION

STICK CHAIRS
Stick chairs, also known as Windsor chairs, can be Typical English versions used beech for the legs and
identified by their unique construction, w hich uses spindles, elm for the seat, and ash or yew for the
turned spindles, or "sticks," fitted into a solid bows. Some chairs were made from mahogany. In
wooden seat. Made in rural areas, these distinctly North America, maple, birch, or beech were used
co untry chairs took on m any localized forms. They for the legs, ash or hi ckory for the sticks, pine or
became an important influence in N orth America, poplar for the seat, and ash , oak, or beech for the
where a number of different styles developed. bows. Some chairs were painted red, black, yellow,
The legs were usually turned spindles, but son1.e and green, a fe ature popular in N orth America .
featured simple cabriole-style front legs. It was the Ladder-back chairs, so- called from the use of the
style of the back that determined one type from horizontal slats that form the back, are similarly
another; examples were known as wheel-back, constructed, but they have straight, turned legs and
comb-back, fan- back, hoop-back, and bow-back. rails, and caned or rush seats.

D esign variations
~~"""'"~======-~==~~~-~~=~- Comb or crest rail Typical ex a111ples of chairs using
NEW ENGLAND
Ben.t by stea111 into a deep stick constwction.
BOW-BACK
cutve, these oak, ash, or 1 Chippendale-style bo11'-back
WITH COMB
beech rails are decoratively J;j/indsor chair.
shaped and drilled to 2 Ladder-back chair 111ith si111ple
receive th e back spindles. wsh seat.
Back bow
!'via de from steam- __..,.~;;;;~;;;;=i~9i~~b:.,_ /fl-- - Back spindles
bent ash, oak, or Made from riven straight-
beech, it is drilled so grained ash, beec,h or
the sticks can pass hickory, these are planed
thro~tgh. It is attached
into round tapers. Their
to the arm bow with light proportions make
tenon joints. them weak.

Arm bow
i\1ade from stemn -
bent ash, oak, or
beech. Tight be11ds
can split if th e wood Main spindles
is weak . Turned in maple,
birch, or beech, and
Seat glued into sockets
Made from pine or drilled into the seat
poplar, the saddle and arm bow
shape is fann ed with
an adz e and carving
tools. Wide boards
warp and split if not Me- - -- - L egs
carifully selected. Made frorn maple,
birch, or beech , and
H-stretcher rails - --H' - -----, glu ed into sockets in
Maple, ash, birch, or th e underside of th e
beech tumed rails are seat board. Th e legs
joined together in of American Windsor
an H corifigw·ation chairs are set at a
and used to join greater angle th an
the legs. in English des(~ ns .
Over th e years the
joints can 1110rk loose.
CHAIRS AND BENCHES: CONSTRUCTION

••
BENTWOOD CHAIRS
The classic bentwood chairs that graced the cafes vvere either caned or fitted with decoratively pressed
of the world in the late nineteenth century were pl)'\vood panels or upholstered pads . They were
the creation of Michael Thonet. Made from steam- perhaps the first "knock-down" chairs-they were
bent, turned rods ofbeech , they were the first truly often shipped in parts for assembly by the purchaser.
mass-produced chairs. With their sinuous curved The manufacturing system was soon adapted to
forms and light construction, they were less produce a w ide range of furniture, w hich included
expensive to produce than traditional frame chairs side chairs, armchairs, settees, and rocking chairs,
and avoided the short-grain problems associated as well as tables and hat stands. Some designs are
w ith shaped solid wood. produced today, but you can still find old bentwoo d
The frames were m ade up from separate bent- chairs at bargain prices. If the main sections are
wood units, usually screwed and bolted together beyond repair, it should be possible to salvage
to form a strong, if slightly fl exible , chair. The seats "spare parts" from ano ther, damaged chair.

THONET BENTWOOD CHAIR Design variations


Arm rest/back Typical examples of bent-
A one-piece, solid bentwood unit wood chairs.
screwed to the back and seat ri111. 1 Side chair IIlith pressed
plywood seat.
2 Thonet bentwood rocker
with caned seat and back .
~--=~:tr-- Seat
A molded plywood
panel glued into a
rabbet 111achined in
the seat rim . The
panel is prone
Back rail/legs to bowing and
A one-piece, turned delaminati11g if it
solid-wood rod, bent becomes unglued.
into shape with steam You UJi/1 find padded
and held with seats, as well as
bolts and wood caned 0/leS.
screws . Tight bends
can split and fasteners Seat rim
can work loose. A s1eam -bem, solid-
wood, or lamil~ated
Hooped rail- - --+-1111--VI hoop joined by a
A steam-bent, solid- glued scaifjoint.
wood hoop joined The ri111 is drilled to
with a scaifjoint and receive the rear-leg 0
fastened to the legs bolts and fi·ont- leg
with wood screws . tenons. The scaif
The scaifjoint is joint can split open if
prone to failure, subjected to moisture.
the wood screws
work loose. Front leg
First turned to a
taper and then bent
by steam, the front
legs are glued and
tenoned into the seat
rhn. Each joint is
secured by a screw
from the inside and
can work loose if tl1e
glue fails.
CHAIRS D BENCHES: CONSTRUCTION

METAL CHAIRS
Wrought iron had long been used to produce tubular sectio ns. The designers of the Bauhaus, an
handmade furniture, but it was not until the early- twentieth- century architectural school, used
Industrial revolution that metal, in the form of cast bent tubing to create chair stru ctures, harnessing the
iron, became a viable material for m ass-produced strength of steel to produce cantilevered fram es.
goods. Iron founders w ere able to produce both These chairs soon becam e design classics.
massive and intricately decorative castings in any M etal furniture is generally tougher than that
number of matching parts. The weight of cast iron m ade of woo d, but cast iron is relatively brittle and
limited its use primarily to garden furniture, but w ill crack if struck hard. H owever, steel furniture is
some designs are now reproduced in cast aluminum. m ore resilient, and components are more likely to
Cast iron is strong in compression but not in bend than break. M etals are generally rot-proof, but
tension. Steel, a later development, has great tensile they m ay corrode if no t protected w ith a smface
strength and can be m anufac tured into lightweight coating, usually paint or chromium plating.

T UBULAR- STEEL CHAIR Upholstery D esign variations


Thick hide or canvas panels Typical examples of seating
Back frame with sewn sleeves to fit over constructed from metal.
The chrome-plated tubing . The panels stretch 1 Tubular-steel chair by Mart
tube fram e is bolted and lose their shape. The Stam , 1926.
to th e leg fram e and hide cracks if not treated 2 T ubular-steel chair by Mies
seat frame. with leather preserver. van der R ohe, 1927.
3 Victorian cast-iron garden
bench with slatted wooden seat.
4 N ineteenth -century wrought-
iron garden seat.

'--+-+-- Side rail


Bolted between the front and back
units to stiffen th e frame. The
bolt f asteners are weak points. Seat frame
Bolted to the leg and
back f rame.
Leg frame
Shaped to fo rm a continuous
fra me. In extreme cases, th e
frame may be distorted by
long-term misuse.
CHAIRS AND BENCHES: MENDING LOOSE JOINTS

MEKD Kl\'G LOO E J O L "TS


he condition of a chair frame is to a large
T extent dep endent on the amo unt and type of
use it has sustained, as well as the quality of the
Gluing a seat rail
The m ortise-and-teno n joints betwee n the back legs and the
side seat rails of a fram e chair are parti cularly pro ne to stress . If
the ba ck fram e feels loose, this is an indication that the joints
m aterials and m anufac ture. In the course of time, are w eak and need attention .
an old frame-constructed chair w ill develop loose Although it is preferable to dismantle the joints, do not strip
joints, caused by a weakening of the glue and the an upholstered seat unless it is necessary.
inevitable strain on the frame. Loose joints should 1 Injecting glue
be fixed promptly because the wood forming the into a joint
joint will probably be compressed as the chair is Workingfrom th e
11nderside, drill a
twisted by movem ent, thus making the fit worse. hole into the leg or
The splayed components and tapered socket rails from inside the
joints ofWindsor-style chairs tend to absorb stresses frame and inject glue
into the joint. Clamp
better than those of more conventional frame chairs. the fra me until set.
Shrinkage of the wood, however, will cause these
joints to weaken , and it is not uncommon for the 2 R einforcing
turned stretcher rails to work loose from the legs. a com er
Frame chairs are
Only the front legs of a bentwood chair are glued usually _filled with
into the seat frame-all the other joints are cre\Yed comer blocks to
or bolted-and these can work loose, leading to support rile joints .
wo rn fas tener holes.
lf 1he original blocks
are loose, remove
them and clean 11p
Regluing joints the faces, then regl11e
It is usually possible to stretch the frame w \York or inject glue and screw them back
into a w eak joint, but it is better w take the frame apa rt to into place. lf blocks
make a thorough repair. were not fitted, make
them from hardwood
1 Gluing a about 1 inch (25mm)
stretcher rail thick. Mark and cut
Stretch th e legs of a them to fit the angle,
stick chair apart, and and drill countersunk
prop them with a holes for the screws.
piece of wood. Cut Glue and fas ten
V notches in the ends them in place.
of th e prop to help
position it. lf th e end Bolted joints
of th e rail has been The back-leg assembly of a typical bentw ood chair is fastened
crushed and is a loose to the seat ri m w ith carriage bolts. The joint is held tight by a
fi t in th e leg socket, square nut, prevented from unscrewing by a tabbed w asher.
wrap it in a wet cloth
to swell the grain. Tig htening
Wh en it is suitably the bolt
swollen, allow it to lf the join t is loose,
dry, th en apply glu e perhaps beca11se of
to the joint and slm'nking wood,
clamp th e fram e. straighten the washer
tab wirh a screwdriver
2 Trimming and tighten the llltt
the rail with a wrench. Do
lf the joint is only not overtigh ten t/1e
slightly loose, just n11 f beca 11se the head
trimming the end of th e bolt can cr11sh
of th e rail will allow into th e wood. Bend
it to sit sn11gly in th e tab back into
the tapered hole. place to lock the n11t .

51
.___ _ _ CJL-\IRS .-\.: ;n BE "CHES: DISMANTLING

DrrsM ANTLrr "G A CH A KIR


crewed joints often
n order to carry out structural repairs , it is
T h bac · rails. arm rests, side brackets, and hooped rails of
ben ,·ood chairs are secured with either exposed or plugged
Iofeasier to dismantle the chair first. However, if part
the frame is really secure, leave that part intac t,
nxxl ·crew . imply retightening the screws may be sufficient
o ·ecure the j oint. If the fastener has failed, for instance unless it prevents another repair being made. Label
be ,·een the hooped rail and front legs, you can try fitting the joints with patches of adhesive tape so yo u can
a I ~ er- ga uge screw; however, if the h ole has been stripped,
I t will need to be filled and redrilled.
quickly identify the parts when reassembling.
Secondary fittings
1 Filling a Joints are usually
screw hole designed to he secured
Remove th e hoop, or with glue alone, hut
che leg if it is loose. some may he pinned
Glue a short length with dowels to
of dowel in the old reinforce the joints.
screw hole, and trim Drill out any dowel
the end flush when pins, using a hit of
set. Drill a pilot hole the appropriate size.
exactly in the center Punch a center mark
of the plug and on the dowel to guide
reassemble the frame, the drill tip.
using new screws if
these are needed. Plugged fittings
Screws may he used,
2 Tightening a and are often covered
plugged screw with wooden plugs.
Vllhere the fasteners Remove the screw
are on the outside of from a plugged fitting
the chair frame, the when it is exposed.
screw holes are often
hidden by wooden
plugs. Carifully chisel Removing nails
these out with a small Nails that were used
gouge or drill them to make a crude repair
with a dowel hit, and to a weak joint may
tighten up the screws. he hidden with wood
Use a plug-cutting hit putty. Look for any
to make neat side- shallow sink marks
grain plugs from a around the joint,
matching piece of where the putty may
wood, and glue them have been used. Pull
in place. Vllhen set, out accessible nails
chisel the plugs flush, with a pair of pincers .
color them to match
the frame, and finish Making a
as required. hollow drill
A hollow drill will
Screwed seat frames clear wood from
C hairs with caned seats often have the seat frame glued and around sunken nails,
screwed into notches cut into the back legs. This fitting has so you can remove
a tendency to fail. them with pliers.
Make saw cuts across
Tightening the end of a short
the joint length of ',{ inch
If the thread of the (12mm) steel tubing.
screw is stripped, Shape "saw teeth"
clean and reglue the between the cuts with
joint, and replace the a fine file. Fit a
screw with one of a T-handle and use
lmger gauge, or plug a guide block for
the hole and redrill. handwork, or use
a drillpress .

52
CHAIRS AND BENCHES: DISMANTLING

Metal brackets Back frames


Metal straps and Most chair fram es have the back rails tenoned into the legs .
brackets may be The vertical splats o r bars are usually stub-tenoned into the
screwed to th e frames top rail and bottom rail , if fmed, or into the seat rail.
to reinforce weak Dismantle this type by first removing the legs.
joints. Unless they
are neatly fitted and
discreetly placed, it is
better to remove then1
and repair the joints
and frame members.

Seat frames SPLAT


Remove any upholstery that prevents yo u from dismantling
the chair. Study the construction of the frame to determine
the best way to take it apart. The back and front leg frames are
usually made as complete subassemblies and are removed first. .__G Hiii--BOTTO M
BAC K RAIL
Dismantling a
chair frame
Knock apart the
weak joints of a chair
with shmp taps from
.
0
SEAT RAIL

a ha111mer or a rubber LEG


mailer. Always hold
a block of softwood
between a hammer Splat-back chair Balloon-back chair
and th e workpiece.
Clamp the frame of
th e chair in a vise or
onto the bench . To
pre11ent the fimne
from twisting and
binding the joints,
work altemately frolll
one side of th e frallle
to th e other.

Using fast - action


clamps
It is possible to push
the joints of a light
frame apart with the
help offast-action
clarnps. Set the arms
in reverse on the bar,
and place the clamp
betl./Jee/1 th e opposing
rails to apply the Ladder-back
necessary force. chair
Back-frame styles
Using clamps on Chairs with legs shaped into the back rail, such as balloon -back types,
a single joint have a crest rail with stub -tenon or dowel joints securing it to th e ends
For a single joint, of the legs. The lower part of th e hoop is tenoned into the sides of the
hold the seat rail in legs. R emove the crest rail, using pairs of shallow hardwood wedges to
the vise and apply ease the joint apart. Take great care not to break th e short grain
the force between the around the joint. You may 11eed to first soften th e glu e {see page 54).
benchtop and the lf the single-curve crest rails 011 Empire-style chairs are held by
joint. A car jack stopped dovetail dadoes, tap th e underside edge of the back to release
could be used in th e joint. Si111ilar-shaped backs 111ay be held with screws . Th e shaped
a similar way. rails of ladder-back chairs are held i11 111ortises in th e back legs .
CHAIRS AND BENCHES: DISMAN..;.T:.;L::::I::.N,_G..__ _ _ _ _ _ ___.

Releasing glued joints U sing d enatured alcohol


Most old furniture is held together by animal glue, Old animal glue can also be broken dow n by the application
which is water soluble and, therefore, reversible. If a of denatured alcohol. In circumstance \ 'here other me•
can cause damage, you ca n inj ect rhe alcohol into the \YO<Xl
ue ·oint needs to be dismantled but resists being to release the j oints, using a hypodermic syrin ge.
tapped apart, apply wet rags around the joint until
the glue softens. The application of steam speeds 1 P reparing
the joint
up the operation, particularly if it is introduced into vVhere a joint has
the joint. Either operation will probably affec t the partly opened, apply
finish, which will have to be repaired. de11atured alcohol
into th e joint. VVh ere
M aking a steam applicator tl1ere is no gap, drill
You can make a steam applicator by fitting a 6 inch (lSOnm1) afine hole in to the
length of X- inch (3-mm) diameter aluminum or brass tubing joint in a discreet
through two wine-bottle corks. Attach one end of the tube to location .
a length of silicone tubing and fit this onto a length of the
metal tubing fitted into a co rk shaped to fit the spout of a
domestic tea kettle. Both types of tubing can be purchased
fi·om model stores or so me hardwa re stores.
2 Injecting
denatured a.lcohol
Tum the work so
that the liquid, aided
by gravity, runs into
the cavities of, for
instance, a mortise
joint. Inject the
alcohol into the joint,
Using a stea m so it is absorbed by
applicator the wood. Do 11ot
Drill a slightly flood the suiface-
oversized hole into the alcohol can mar
the join t fro m inside a shellac finish.
th e frame, and
carefully introduce
the stea111 around and
into the joint with 3 L oosening
the applicator. Do the joint
not oveifill the kettle, Apply the denatured
and wear protective alcohol periodically
gloves . After aJew until the joint loosens
111inutes, remove the as the glue begins
applicator and tap to crystallize; this
the joint apart. may take from five
minutes to two hours
Heating the w ork to work. R ock the
Dry heat, applied w ith a hair dryer, hot-air gun, or electric parts carefully to
hea ter, can also soften animal glues . This method is best suited loosen them , thw
to joints that are not surrounded by thick wood. tap the joint apart.
A pplying the heat Old repairs
Concentrate the heat An old chair may have been repaired in the past, and if this
on the joint in order was carried our relatively recently, the restorer may ha ve used
to weaken the glu e. one of the modern adhesives, such as w hite (or PVA) glue,
Work the joint as the resin glue, or even an epoll:y adhesive.
glue softens. You will White glu e, though not reversible, can be soften ed w ith
need to repair the vvater, w hich usually enables the joint to be knocked apart.
finish if it is not Waterproof resin and epm..ry glues cannot be softened, but if
already stripped. th e j oint was not thoroughl y cleaned at the time of the repair,
even small traces of the old animal glu e may allow the joint to
be weakened with the aid of steam or denatured alcohol.
CHAIRS AND BENCHES: REPAIRING JOINTS

R EJPARJRRKG J ORN T S
hair joints are susceptible to wear and tear from middle of the nineteenth century, and they are now
C the forces applied to the stru cture. Mortise-
and- tenon j oints are typically us ed for frame chairs.
commonly used in the construction of this type of
utilitarian framed furniture.
Early frames were not glued, relying on pegs and J oints starved of glue, exposed to damp, or
the close fit of the parts to hold them fas t. This stressed w ill weaken, and movement will accelerate
me thod was eventually superseded by glued joints deterioration, eventually damaging the wood. Gap-
as th e designs and techniques became more refined. filling glues may help , but refitting the joints may
Dowel j oints first appeared on chairs around the be necessary. Broken joints w ill need to be rebuilt.
Dowel joints Worn mortise- and- tenon joints
Dowels can be found in chair seat frames, in the ends of the The mortise-and-tenon joints between the seat rails and back
back legs at the joint w ith a crest rail, and possibly where an fram e are prone to twisting. This can result in the side-grain
arm is fitted on a carver chair. Dowels are also sometimes used edges of the tenon crushin g against the tougher end grain of
to replace a broken tenon. Dowel joints are strong, but it is the mortise in the leg.
possible for the dowels to shear if unduly stressed.
If the joint has failed due to loss of glue adhesion, clean as 1 R etritmning
much old glue as possible off the parts and reglue the j oint. tlte tenon
The dowels w ill need to be remade if the joint is broken . Cut across the li11e of
th e sho11lder a11d th en
1 M ending 11se a chisel ro tri111 the
dowel joints wom edges of th e
if the broken dowel tenon twe.
pegs cannot be pulled
out with pliers, trim
them flush with a
saw. Find the centers
of the dowels and
drill them out, usi11g 2 T rimming
a slightly undersized tlte repair
dowel bit. Pick out Gl11e oversized strips
the remaining waste of the same wood ro
with a small gouge the prepared edges.
to ensure that the 111~e~z sec, pare them
original wood is not dow11 with a chisel to
removed and the prod11ce a Ce11011 of the
angle of the hole is correa si:::e.
not changed. if you
can, use a drillpress
to keep the bit
straight, and check 3 R eshaping
the depth of the hole. the mortise
if the mortise has also
·2 P reparing become distorted, it
tlte dowels can be squared up by
Cut th e dowel so that chopping out the ends
it finish es /{6 inch of the slot.
{2mm) shorter than
the combined length
of the holes in each
part. Chanifer the
ends and cut a groove 4 Trimnting
along the length of to size
each dowel to allow Glue in new pieces of
air and excess glue wood, with th e grain
to escape. Apply glue following th e length
into th e holes and to of th e leg. l¥h en set,
the shoulders, insert pla11e ttte suifaces
the dowels, and flu sh a11d chop o11t
clamp the joi11t th e waste to make
(see page 62). the req11ired mortise.

55
CHAIRS AND BENCHES: REPAIRING JOINTS

Broken mortise- and-tenon joints Mitered ends


Although a mortise-and-tenon joint is strong, it is still possible vi/here 111'0 rails are
for parts to fail. This may be due to insect infestation, naturally set at r(ght a11gles ro
weak wood, or excessive strain applied to the frame . Cut away one anorher in rhe
the damaged wood, but try to re tain as much of the original leg, tl1e tenon ends
material as possible. are usually 111itered
ui/1ere th ey 111eer. Set
the rails at an angle
i11 th e vise and pare
the ends of th e tenons
ro 45 degrees.

Splicing part of the tenon


R emove the damaged portion of tl1 e tenon wit/1 a saw, wtting it flu sh Split mortise
with the shoulder. Using a chisel no wider than th e tenon, undercut Excess strain on a
the shoulder at an angle of 45 degrees . This allows new wood to be mortise that is set
fitted i11to th e rail without showing on th e edge. Cut a new piece cif close to the suiface
rnatchi11g wood to the thickness of the tenon, and shape it to fit th e cif a component can
wtout, leaving it oversized 011 width a11d lengrh. Glue th e wood in sometimes result in
place and, when set, trim to size. th e side splitting out.
Repair this failure as
soon as possible to
stop dirt fiwn getting
into th e break.
Work gh1e into
the split and clamp it
tightly . Place wood
scraps under the clamp
heads to spread the
clampi11gfo rce and
also to protect the
suiface of the wood.
Making a new tenon
Rebuild th e whole tenon with a11 a11gled bridle joi11t. Cut off the Broken mortise
broken wd of th e tenon fl ush ~11ith th e shoulders. Set a mortise ga uge vVliere the wood fiwn
to th e width cif tl1e tenon, and scribe th e e11d and underside of the rail. a split mortise is
Make th e length of the bridle about three tim es the width of the tenon. missing or the broken
Set the wood in the vise at the req uired angle and carifully saw rnaterial will not fit
down tl1e guidelines on the waste side, paring out the waste with a together, new wood
chisel. Cut a 11ew tenon piece slightly oversized 011 width and length, nn1st be set in.
and glue into the rail. T ri111 to size when set. i\1ark out the area
cif the recess for th e
new wood, airning to
leave as much of th e
anginal as possible.
Chop and pare 0111
the waste up to th e
marked lines with
a chisel to creare a
flat-based dado. Cut
and glue a patch of
matching wood into
place. vVlien set,
plane th e suifaces
Haunched tenons flu sh, mark and chop
Jj the tenon being repaired is haunched, rebuild th e le11011 as described out th e mortise, rhen
a11d th en mark and wt the haunch to fit the mortise. stai11 a11d finish.

56
CHAIRS AND BENCHES : REPAIRING JOINT
. ..-
s _ _ __

Stick-chair joints Bentwood hoop


The joints used on stick chairs are a cross between a mortise- The w ood fib ers of a bentwood chair ha ve been artificially
and-tenon joint and a dowel j oint. The turned end of one bem and will tend to straighten, causing components to lose
component (the tenon) is fitted into a through hole or stopped th eir shape and w eak joims to spread open.
socket (the mortise) drilled in the other. If the tenon member
is loose, it ma y be possible to tighten it w ith a wedge. Mending a
Although wedging helps to secure a joint and may ha ve sea if joint
been used originally for some joints, ny to use other methods If rite scaifjoint of a
if at all possible , because they make joints difficult for future benrwood hoop f ails,
restorers to dismantle and can cause splitting. clea11 the 111eeting
faces Jl'it/1 Jl'a nll
Through joints warer, then JJJrap
The joints that pass dmup cloths over th e
through wood can be joint fo r a f ew hours
wedged securely from to soften tl1e wood
above. Saw a slot in .fib ers. jJake shaped
the end of the te11oned softwood clampi11g
member, stoppi11g blocks ro fo llo w th e
short of the shoulder contour of rite rail,
line. Cut a !1 i11cl1 and JJJax rl1e block
(Jnu11) hardwood suifaces to prevent
wedge to tl1e sm11e them from sticking.
width as the slot. Apply glue to the
Apply glue and joint and clamp
assemble the joint, the wood back
drive in the wedge, into shape.
and trim it flu sh
when set.
Repairing a front-leg joint
Stopped joints The fro nt legs of bentwood chairs are glued into holes drilled
To wedge the joiut into the eat rim. cre\YS o r blocks fined inside the rim may
in a stopped hole, also be u ed ro reinforce the join c.
first introduce th e
·wedge into the slot. .Waking a repair
Apply glue to th e !f che joilns of che
joint and insert th e chair frame are
wedge partly i11to -~
I
...,I
I
allo 1 ~ed to move, the
the slot. Assemble _;.J strain on the fro Ill
the components and legs can make the top
clamp up, forcing th e joints work loose. If
wedge into the end the glue has failed,
and causing the tenon simply reglue the
to spread in the hole. joint, but if it is very
Use a web clamp to loose, pack out the
make assembly easier; leg, using veneer
it will accommodate wrapped around the
th e various angles tmon at the top of
and round shapes of tl1e leg. Glue the
the components . veneer with rite grain
mnning vertically;
rrim to fit when set.

57
CHAIRS AND BENCHES: REPAIRING LEGS

R EP IRL ~G LEGS
he main function of a chair is simply to support
T a person in a comfortable sitting position, but
chair makers have always sought to make chairs
against a wall. The front legs and chair back are
often ornately worked, while the lower parts of the
back legs and frame are left plain.
attractive, either by the use of proportion and Chair legs can break because of naturally weak
materials or by elaborate decorative treatments. wood, infestation by woodworm , or from excessive
Although dining chairs are mainly seen from the shaping, all of which can result in weak sections.
back, they are designed to be viewed from the front The method of repair w ill depend on whether they
in the same manner as side chairs, which are placed are turned, square- cut, or carved.
Short-grain repair Turned legs
Legs that ha ve been cut from a wide board to produce a C hair makers have long used turnery for the making of chair
strongly curved shape will suffer from weak short grain. If the components, from the simple Windsor-style chairs to the
break is clean and provides a suitable gluing area, just bond the elaborate shapes fou nd on many old frame chairs. Although
broken smfaces togethe r. they are generally strong, these turned legs can still be
weakened by deep- cut decorative turning or faulty wood.
Gluing a A break that has occurred near the top of a turned leg or
clean break one near the foot can be repaired by drilling and inserting a
Apply gl11e 10 boi/1 long dowel from the end.
broke11 s11r{aces a11d
set i11 clm;1ps. TI1ere
is a lelldwcy for 1he
parts 10 slide 011 1he
gl11e, so 11se a sash
cramp 10 reSlria 1he Dowelingfi'om the end
/IIOVemC/11. C/11e and clamp the broken md into place, matching the broken faces
A break 11ear 1he precisely. When set, drill a hole down the center of the leg to take
wd of 1he leg co11/d the doweling reinforcement. Make the diameter as large as possible,
also be reinforced but leave at least !.1 inch (Jmm) of wood around the dowel at the
wi1h a do11~e/1o 111ake narrowest part of the turning. Either tum your own doweling or make
a11 i11visib/e repair the hole suit a standard-size dowel. The length of the hole sho11ld
(see rig/11) . extend well beyond the break. Prepare the dowel by cha11·ifering the
end and running a groove down its length. Clu e and assemble the
repair and trim the do wel when set.
Rebuilding a saber leg
When part of a saber leg is beyond repair, join a new piece of
wood to the old leg using a scarf j oint. At first, leave the new
wood oversized instead of shaping it precisely.

1 Joining new wood


C11i off 1he damaged section and
pla11e smoo1h 1he wt edge of the
leg to crea1e a lo11g gl11i11g suiface.
C/11 e 011 1he 11e11' piece with the
grai11 folloll'illg 1he old wood.

2 Shaping the repair


Mark out the profile, using
the other leg as a template,
and cut the leg to shape.
Plane and then spokeshave
the repair to the finished size .
CHAIRS AND BENCHES: REPAIRING LEGS

Stopped-dowel repair Making turned parts


Broken turned legs that receive tenoned seat rails cannot be W hen part of a leg is beyond repair, it can be replaced w ith a
repaired with a dowel through the top because the repair will new piece . For plain turning, the new w ood should be j oined
show. In this case , a hidden stopped dowel is required . to th e original with a scatfj oinr and turned i11 sit11 ; decorative
fea tu res can be turned separately and glu ed onto the leg.
1 Drilling the
stopped hole 1 Prep aring
vVith the seat rails in the wood
place, drill into the Cut off rhe damaged
broken end of the portion 011 a shoulder
upper part of the leg. line cif a decora tive
Drill the hole as deep fea tu re. ,\![ark the
as possible without end of the leg with a
weakening the tenon Wiler fi ndi11g ga uge,
joints. The diameter and drill a hole i11
should leave at least the e11d, as wide
If inch (3mm) of as possible wirhout
wood all around at weakening the wood.
th e narrowest point. Prepare a11 oversized
sq uare section of
2 Cutting the matchi11g wood for
brokm section tu mi11g. ,Hark the
Mark a registration diago11als 011 each wd
line across th e and scribe a circle tlwt
proposed wt, th en wt touches all fo ur sides,
r!.{f the broken tu rned th en plane down the
section close to the comers to produce an
shoulder lin e, using octagonal section.
a fine-tooth saw.

3 Gluing th e
broken end 2 Ma k ing a temp late
Glue and clamp th e Copy the shape to be tumed from the undamaged leg, usir1g a profile
broken ends together. ga uge. For greater acwracy, carifully mark out and w t a cardboard
Using the hole as a EXTE OED template, including a tenon to fit the hole drilled in th e leg. Set up
DOWEL HOLE
guide, drill the lo~ver and trim the wood on the lathe to f orm a cylinder slightly lmger than
part cif the leg. Use the widest part cif the turning. Use calipers to check the diam eter.
a drillpress to ensure
th e hole fo llows the
central axis.

4 Gluing the joint 3 Turning to shape


Because the assembled J\!Iark th e position cif th e details 011 the work, using the template as
leg will be shorter by a guide . Tu m the part to shape, i11cluding the tellon, a11d check th e
the thickness of th e contour as th e work progresses . Cut a groove i11 the tel/Oil a11d glue
saw cut, you will need the co1npleted part in to the leg. Co lo r an d_fi11ish th e repair.
to trim th e end of th e
oth er leg or make a Repairing a
packing collar out square leg.
of matching veneer; Cut r!.{f the dmnaged
this is used to fill th e end of the square leg
gap when the parts of au upholstered
are glued together. chair at rail/eve/.
Prepare th e dowel, Glue a new end with
glu e and assemble th e a fu med teno11 into a
parts, al(g11irlg th e hole drilled i11 the top
registration marks, of the origillalleg,
and clarnp together. and recut the mortise.
OR IGI AL LEG
..__ _ _ CHAIRS AND BENCHES: REPAIRING LEGS

M aking a new turned leg Cabriole legs


Where th e extent of the damage is excessive, you may find it The delightful S-shape cabriole legs introduced
easier to replace the leg entirely. If yo u ha ve a lathe , you can in the late seventeenth century becan"Ie a popular
undertake the wo rk yourself; otherwise, yo u can have the leg
made by a specialist. style for chairs, as well as tables and cabinets. As an
expression of the chair m aker's skill, various patterns
were produced; some were relatively plain, others
ornate. Repairs to genuine period chairs of this type
should be left to professionals , but reproduction
chair legs could be tackled; an example with a
1 Marking out the turning turned club foot is shown.
i\!Iake a template of the req~1i red profile. If the chair fra me is mortise PO ST BLO C K
and tenoned, mark out th e mortises in the leg bifore shaping on the M aking a cabriole leg
lath e. Cut th e mortises after turning because th e wood might otherwise Although this may not be
split. The leg generally re111ai11s square where th e rails are joined. immediately apparent, the
shapely cabriole leg is cut
2 T urning the leg from one square-sectioned KNEE BLO C K
(EAR. PIECE)
full length piece of wood, except for the
If the whole leg is knee blocks, which are made
cylindrically turned, separately. T o manufac ture a
fit ternporary soft- replacement for a leg beyond
wood blocks into th e repair, take the shape from
111ortises to prevent one of the remaining good
the edges fro /II tearing legs to ensure that the subtle
out. Turn th e leg to curves match. This leg will
shape and finish. need to be removed and the
knee blocks unglued.

FOOT

D rilling
turned legs
Th e socket joints in
the legs of stick-type
chairs are usually set
at an angle. Once a
leg has been tumed
to shape, clamp it in
a jig to hold it at the 1 Making a template
required angle (see Clamp the leg by th e post block onto a piece of thin plywood, with
opposite) . Use a one mortised side held f acedown. Carifully mark around the profile
sliding bevel to set with a purpose-made guide block. Cut out the template to create a
th e angle bifore smooth S-shape cu1ve.
drilling the hole
with a drillpress.

2 M arking out
!11ark th e shape on two adjacent inside f aces of a square-section leg
blank prepared to length and width . Make the width of the blank
slightly nwre than th e dimension across the knee.
CHAIRS AND BENCHES: REPAIRING LEGS

3 Turning a 6 Fin ishing


club foot the leg
Mark diagonal lines A sse111ble the chair
on each end of the f rallle and plane th e
wood to find the post block flu sh with
center. Mount the th e rails, then shape
work in a lathe and the corner and cut a
turn the clubfoot rabbet in the top f or
detail to shape. a drop -in seat, if one
is required. Glu e th e
kn ee blocks into place
ar·1d work the back of
th e leg il1to a smooth
transition curve.
Finally, stain and
.finish th e new leg .

MAKING A DRILLING JIG


Turned legs can be held in a corner blocks at the rear. Cut
vise bet\veen V -shape blocks, a V block the same length as
but a purpose-made jig will the jig, and cut short slots at
make both setting up and each end where it crosses the
drilling easier. slots in the baseboard. Clamp
Make a baseboard and the V block to the back with
backboard from X-in ch countersunk machine screws
(12-nun) thick plywood. Cut held with wing nuts . Make
the parts to suit the size of a short V block to hold the
4 Cutting to shape the work, and plane the edges work steady in th e jig with
Us ing a bow saw, or priferably a handsaw fitted with a narrow blade, square. Cut !4' inch (6mm) the aid of a clamp or two.
cut th e leg profile. Closely fo llow the marked lines on one f ace, then slots in the backboard to take The backboard can either be
temporarily tape the waste pieces back into place. Tu rn the u;ork to machine screws. Screw and calibrated with angled lines or
present the remaining marked fa ce uppermost- the underside waste glue the bottom edge of the • you can set the long V block
keeps the work steady-and cut the second profile to produce a square- back to the center line of the to the required angle with a
section version of the leg. Cut the mortises. base. Stiffen the joint with sliding bevel. Clamp the jig
to the base of a drillpress.
LON G
5 Shaping the leg Position the work under
Make cardboard the drill bit as required.
templates cif different
sections of an existing BACKBOARD

leg to use as guides


fo r shaping. Mount
the new Leg in a sash
clamp gripped in a WI G
bench vise and shape NUT
the leg, using spoke-
sha ves, rasps, files,
and scrapers .

MAC HI NE SCREW

CO I~NER
BLOCK
CHAIRS AND BENCHES: CLAMPING FRAMES

CLA.)1PI~G CHA1R FRA2\1E""


Repainting a broken foot hether regluing a loose joint or reassembling
Short grain can cause part of a turned club foot to break away .
If the part is m.issing, rebuild it with a new piece of wood
W a dismantled chair, it will be necessary to
apply press ure to the j oints to ensure a tight fi t
glued in place.
and a secure bond. Chair frames come in all shapes
Fitting the block and sizes, and they sometimes require ingenious
Plane rhe broken
edge smooth. Cut a methods to clamp them together. Conventional
block of 111atching m etal sash clam.ps and C ca.mps, ratchet straps-
ll'ood to mate with normally used to secure loads on au tomobiles-
rhe prepared face,
a11d glu e it in place. and even string can all be used for clamping.
i\lfark out and cmve Softening blocks
rhe block to the Whatever the device used to apply the force, it is essential to
original shape. protect the chair frame from bruising, using softwood blocks
or other relatively soft materials pla ced between the clamp
LEVELING CHAIR LEGS heads and the work. In some cases, shaped softening blocks
will be needed, not only to protect the sutface but also to
Chairs with uneven legs are annoying to sit on, and they can allow the clamping force to be applied in line with the joint.
be damaged if the fi.·ame is continuously tw isted with use . The examples below indicate the direction of the clamping
Where a new leg has been fitted, you will need to cut it to force with an arrow.
match the length of the others. For original legs that are
uneven, perhaps due to the solid seat of a Windsor cha.ir, Square fra nus
having warped, it will be necessary to identify the problem Rectilillearframes are
and trim the appropriate leg or legs to make the chair stable. usually the simplest
to clamp and require
1 Trimming a only fiat softwood
new leg blocks placed at the
Place the chair level comers . H owever,
ort a fiat suiface, with the back blocks of a
the longer leg hanging curved back leg need
over th e edge. Mark to be shaped to fo llow
the leg to the required the contour.
angle and length with When a strap or
a pmcil, usi11g a ruler toumiquet is used,
to help project the shaped blocks are
wtting line from th e needed to protect
suiface. Saw or pare the comers.
th e leg to length, mtd
be!Je/ the edges 111i th a
chisel or fi le.

Tapered frames
2 Dealing with Th e clarnpingforce
uneven legs should nm parallel
Stand the chair 011 to the tenon, which
a fiat suiface a11d normally fo llows
prop the leg or legs the line of the rail.
with pieces of thin Make angled blocks
cardboard or vweer to set t/1e clamp in
un til th e chair appears line with the rail.
to be level. Take the Cut th e angles to
cardboard from the compensate for the
shortest leg and while shape of the legs .
keeping the chair U11en assembling
steady, mark a pencil a complete f rame,
line on the other clamp th e front m1d
three legs, usi11g the ~
- ,•, ..L.. back fra mes first.
removed cardboard ......,.. ~ U11ert set, clamp th e
as a guide. Trim BAC K FRAME side rails in place.
~t'_'e__lll_a_rk_e_d_l_eg_s_. _____________ _______________________~ ~~------------------~
FRO NT FRAME

62
CHAIRS AND BENCHES: REPAIRING RAILS

Rounded legs eat and stretcher rails are important structural


Rounded shapes are more difficult to grip , so they w ill require
sp ecially contoured blocks .
S members. If damaged in any way, they w ill
inevitably weaken a chair.
Making corner When m aking repairs, always try to use as much
blocks of the original rail as possible , even for chairs with
Cut the blocks to
match th e cwve if the upholstered rails that are not exposed. In this case,
leg profile. Because for an important chair, rebuild the rail to restore its
w1ved blocks tmd to integrity, grafting the old wood on the inside face
slip as the pressure is
to preserve the period character. In most cases, it is
applied, make them
with an extension best to replace the rail entirely-a perished rail that
that can be held with has been strengthened with glue-impregnated
a small clamp. burlap will not hold nails for long.
Using straps
Nylon straps, made Rail styles
for attaching loads to Rails are usually rectangular in section and joined to
car roof racks, can be
used to clarnp frames the legs with mortise- and-teno n joints, although
together. R atchet- dowels are som etimes used. Chairs with caned seats
operated heavy-duty are lighter in construction and have the seat rails
types are available,
as well as pzupose- joined together to m ake a flat frame.
made web clamps, Most chairs have straight seat rails, but son1e may
which are designed have the front rail decoratively shaped along the
for ~voodwork. lower edge, w hile others m ay be curved in plan,
Curved rails as well as in side elevation. Curved rails require a
Chairs with strongly curved rails ca n be awkward to clamp larger piece of wood from which to cut the shape,
because there is no square shoulder on w hich to place the and they can be weak due to short grain.
clamp head . In many cases, straps can be used successfully
without the need for utilizing special blocks. Making a tenoned side rail
When a rail is beyond repair and needs to be replaced, take
Making a saddle FLAT-STEEL
the dimensions from the old or remaining rail of the chair.
RAIL
You can make an
adjustable saddle for
a compound-curve
crest rail 011 a chair
back. Cut two fiat-
steel bars to the
width of the chair
back and bend them
to accomrnodate the
wrve of th e back seen
in plan. Drill holes
thro~tgh the ends and
bolt a V-groove block
if wood at each end.
Cut off the top
comers to provide a Marking out the ra il
fiat surface ready for Prepare the wood to size and 111ark ozu and wr the te/IOIIS at each
clamping. Face th e end, noting the details from the old exa111ple. Th e twon usually nt11s
groove with thick felt. parallel with th e rail, and, on a chair 111ith a tapered seat, th e 111ortise
Place a stiff length if in the leg is wt at an angle. Som etimes th e mortise is wt square to
wood under the seat the face of the leg and the tenon is angled. Tl1is is not good practice,
rail for th e clamps to because the tenon is tfleakened by short grain . If this is th e case,
pull against, keep ing carifztlly select the nell' tf/ood for the rail.
the clanzpingforce Th e tet1011 is usually placed in th e cenrer of the rail, but it is
square to the joint. so111eti111es set to one side. This is called a barifaced tenon, and
it is used where the conventional111ethod would weaken th e leg.

63
CHAIRS AND BE CHES: REPAIRING RAILS

Making front rails Broken stretcher rails


Front rails are often more ornate than side rails and usually Stretcher rails are relatively light in section and, because they
require larger sections of wood to accommodate the shape. are close to the floor, they are sometimes broken . Where a
break forms a natural scatfj oint, simply apply glue and clamp
1 Making a or bind the repair. If the wood has sheared close to the leg or
curved rail is beyond repair due to woodworm, make a new rail.
lf possible, use the
old rail as a template R emaking a tenoned ra il
and mark out the A tenoned rail is rectangular in
plan shape 011 tl1e section and tenoned into tl1e leg.
new wood; or draw if the chairfra111e cannot be 1aken
the shape, including apart, .fitting a nell' rail can be a
th e tenons, a11d proble111. I11is mn be overco111ed
tranifer this shape to by cwting 1he rail to shoulder
tl1e wood. Cut th e length andJitting separate tenons.
rail to shape on a Clean out the mortises and prepare
handsaw. JVIark the the rail to size. Cut angled bridle
shoulder lines of the joints in the 1111derside at eac/1
tenons on the faces, .end (see page 56). Cut 111atching
and cut th e joints. tenon pieces and glue the111 into
the legs, then glue the rail to the
2 Routing the rail tenon pieces.
For a visible rail,
smooth th e front Bmken turned stretcher
suiface with spoke- fllh ere th e end of th e rail !111s
shaves, scrapers, broken close to th e leg, cut the
and sandpaper ready end of th e rail square and glue
forfinishing. Cut on a short length of dou,eling or
a rabbet in the top a tumed piece to 111ake up th e
edge for chairs with T 111issing end. Drill a deep hole
drop -in seats, using into th e end and glue in a dou1e/
a router; and if the to rei1![orce the joint.
rail has beaded A chair with a turned fram e
molding details, cut 111ill usually mabie you to .fit th e
th ese using a scratch rail by spreading the legs apart.
stock or router. Th e repair should be virtually
hidden by the leg socket.
Making Regency-
style rails
R egency-style chairs
with saber legs may
have thick front rails Split turned rail
that are held to the Where a substantial part of a rail is dm11aged beyond repair, wt it
side frames with twin back to sound wood and plane it to a shallow angle. Graft on a new
tenons. JVIark and wt section and tum it to th e finish ed shape.
the new tenons to
nllltch th e 111ortises in Cane- chail' rail
the leg. lf th e front Th e line of closely
edge is rounded over, spaced holes in th e
mark the contour on rails of caned chairs
each end of the rail weakens the wood,
and then plane it to causing it to split.
shape. Fi11ish with a Strip out th e old
shaped sanding block. cane (see page 68),
work glue into the
split, and clamp it
together. Drill the
rail and fir t1110 or
time glued dowels
into th e i1111er edge
between the holes to
rei1![orce th e repair.
CHAIRS AND BENCHES: REPAIRING BACKS

REPA KJRJNG BAC K §


uch of the character of a chair is found in the at crest rails and pierced back splats, where thin
M back rest, from simple, flat , or turned slats or
sticks to elaborately shaped, carved, or pierced
sections leave little material for strength .
Most broken components of chair backs can be
splats, all capped with a shaped crest rail. repaired, often involving little more than regluing
f. Chair backs can be angular and have very little a weak joint, mending a split, or repairing a broken
curvature, or they can have sweeping curved shapes piece with a patch. However, leave remaking a crest
that link up with the arms. Dramatically curved rail shaped into a double curve for a professional. It
shapes are inherently weak if cut from solid wood, will need a large piece of woo d, and th e correct
and they are often found broken. So too are joints species for an old chair could b e difficult to find .
Broken crest rails Damaged crest-rail joints
The typical damage that occurs to a crest rail is determined Crest rails are sometimes relatively fin e, although the original
by its shape or method of manufac ture, follo wing certain piece of solid wood from w hich each was cut was considerably
period styles . The crest rail of a comb-back Windsor chair, m o re robust. H aving so much w ood removed results in typical
for example, is usually curved and embellished with a simple short-grain problems and small wea k joints w here the rails
sawn profile. The lobe details at the ends are often broken meet the leg posts. Mortise- and- tenon joints are usually used
off as a result of short grain. to j oin the leg posts to the crest rails. Breaks can occur in the
ends of the slender posts, w here the tenons are stressed, or
1 Marking out in the crest rail around the mortises for the legs posts, or the
the shape back splat, if fitted.
Make a te111plate of
the pr~file by drawing 1 Repairing
around the unbroken a tenon
end onto cardboard. R emove the crest rail
If both ends are (see page 54). If the
broken, trace the top end of the leg
remaining parts and post is split but the
complete the outline tenon is still intact,
by drawingfreehand simply clean the faces
or using drawing thoroughly and glue
instruments . Cut out the parts together.
the shape with a craft
knife or scissors.

2 Making
the repair
Plane the broken 2 R eplacing
suiface smooth and a tenon
prepare a block of if th e tenon has
matching wood to fit sheared off, replace
the resulting angle, it with a new tenon
leaving th e new wood mortised into the
oversized. Glue the ends of the post.
block in place and T ri111 th e stu111p flush CREST RAIL
when set, plane or with th e shoulder,
pare the front and and wt a 111ortise in
backfaces.fiush. Cut the post to match the
the profile using a 111ortise in the rail,
coping saw, and taking great care to
shape it with a file 111atch th e angle. TENON
and sandpaper. Cut and glue a new PIECE
tenon into the post.
3 D ecoration
For a simple carved
motif, a spiral, fo r

~
example, draw the ._ • .. .

shape on the new . --:.-::.:~·


LEG _,
wood and calVe the POST .- -
detail,following the
existing pattern. '
R epairing Balloon-back joints
a mortise Crest rails of nineteenth-century balloon-back chairs were
The short grain in often doweled to the tops of the posts to overcome the
the back rail often problems associated with short grain. Dow els provide long-
causes the mortise grain strength to bridge the joining faces , but the weak
to split. if the broken surrounding wood often breaks w hen stressed.
part cannot be glued
in place, rebuild the 1 R ebuilding a
wood. Plane the broken end
broken swface fiat Plane the broken
and glue on a surface fiat. Glue on
matching piece of a slightly oversized
wood. Pare and file block of roughly
the patch to the shaped matching
contour of the rail. wood, with the grain
Mark and carefully following that of the
rewt the mortise, rail. Tape it in place
using what remains or bind it firmly with
of the old mortise to waxed string.
g~tide the chisel.

R epairing a back-
splat mortise
if the broken part is
missing, rebuild the
damaged crest rail 2 Making the
~vith new matching do wel hole
wood. Either plane J,Vhen set, plane the
the broken surface end fiat. Mark the
smooth and splice on diameter of the hole
new wood, or wt a on the end and,
dado that tapers at using a gouge, pare
each end to let in a away the wood to
new piece. Shape the accommodate the
patch to the profile dowel. Take care
of the rail when the to follow the angle
glue has set. of the hole.

Empire-style backs
The backs of saber-leg chairs were topped with bold single-
curved crest rails joined to the leg posts with shallow do vetail
dadoes. The joint is prone to short-grain failure caused by the
curve in the rail.
3 Shaping the
new block
Check the rail for fit
an.d glue into place,
using a saddle to
assist clamping (see
page 63). When set,
carve and fi le the
block to the contour
and section of the
back post and rail.

Making an invisib le repair


In order to disguise the edge of the patched repair, wt a tapered dado
in the back rest. Glue in a piece of new wood and plane the surface to
the contour rif the back, running to a feathered edge at the comer. Cut
a dovetail shoulder on the inner edge to match the post joint.

66
CHAIRS AND BENCHES: REPAIRING BACKS

Split back splat Windsor chair back


Back splats are m ade from relatively thin panels of wood T he thin sticks that fom1 the back support on Windsor chairs
te noned into th e underside of the crest rail and the top are fairly vulnerabl e. R eplaceme nts can be made by hand or
edge of the seat rail. Fretted splats are particularly prone to machine. T hey usually have a slight taper, and it may be
splitting alo ng the grain , and chairs are often found with necessary to dismantle the back to fit them.
. . .
p1eces rrussm g.

1 Making
a template
The pattern of
the back splat is
generally symmetrical
about the center line.
H old a piece of thin
cardboard against the
back face of the splat.
lvlark out and then
cut a template from
the related portion
opposite the damaged 1 Shaping a stick by hand
part. The template Ma rk the diagonals and f111ished diameters on each end of a square-
will need to be sectioned length of wood prepared to size. Clamp the wood in a
reversed when used V block between end stops. Plane each face down to the smaller
for marking out. diameter to form a taper. Continue shaping the stick by turning
and planing off the comers until rounded. Finish by sanding with
2 Fi tting a patch sandpaper wrapped face down around the stick.
repair
Plane or pare the
broken edge or edges
fiat . Prepare a piece
of matching wood
slightly thicker than
the splat, and glue it
to the prepared edges.
Tape, bind, or damp
in place until set.

2 Using a lathe
Plane the stick octagonal as above, then set it between centers in a
lathe. With the lathe running at a slow speed, tum the stick to a
round taper. lf the stick is long and light in section, you may need
to support it with an attachment to steady it.

3 Shaping 3 Trimming
the patch the end
i\1ark out the shape Mark the length of
from the template. th e stick fro m the
D rill and saw the back assembly,
waste dose to the ensuring it is held at
lines . Pare and file the correct angle. lf
th e suifaces to shape, the holes in the bow
and carve any suiface are stopped, cut the
detailing. Sand the stick to size;for
suifaces with fine through holes, leave
sandpaper bifore it slightly long and
matching the color trim to follow the
and finishing. profile of the bow
after fitting.

67
CHAIRS AND BENCHES: RECANING

lRECA:\'J:\' G
oven strips of cane have been used since the Chairs with damaged panels, usually the seat,
W seventeenth century to form panels for chair
seats, backs, and arms. The craft of caning has
can look daunting to repair, but by following
some basic principles, the task is not as complex
produced many weave variations, as well as special as it may first appear. However, chairs with shaped
treatments for shaped frames. A "spider's web," for frames are best repaired by a specialist. The method
example, features a floating oval or round block in for recaning a seat using the common six-way
the centre of the frame. Another common pattern is pattern is illustrated on the following pages, but
known as " rising sun." the techniques can be applied to other frames.
Preparing cane
Cane is sold by weight and
supplied in coiled bundles.
Soak two or three strips in
warm water for a few minutes
prior to use, keep them in a
plastic bag until needed, and
replenish them as the work
progresses. Should a cane dry
out while being worked, wipe
it with a damp cloth.

Caning tools
You will need some basic
tools from a standard wood-
working kit, plus one or two
improvised special tools.

Craft knife
For wtting out old ca11ing and
general trimming.

Side cutters
Used to wt canes to length.

Hole-clearing tool
i\!ake this from a lmge wire nail
Simple walnut ji·ame chair with broken cane seat New cane will darkm with age with the point wt off, or a wt-
down screwdriver. Used to drive
Caning materials Preparing the seat frame out old pegs from the ji·ame.
Cane is a relatively tough material that will provide a long Where possible, take one
service if it is not unduly stressed. It is stripped from rattan to or more photographs of the Tack hammer
produce standard-width strands that are gauged from superfine old damaged caning before Used to drive the hole-clearing
to common. The split cane has one, hard shiny surface, and it stripping the frame, to help tool and tap in 11ew pegs .
should be woven through the frame so that this sides always you set out the new work.
remains facing up. Permanent pegs, cut from basket-weave Cut out the old canework Stiletto
cane or dowel, are used to secure the canes in alternate holes. with a craft knife, following An improvised tool made ji·om a
The cane is sold by suppliers in "hanks" of 1,000 feet the inside of the frame . Cut small screwdriver with a rounded
(300m), and it is usually sold w ith the binder, a wider strand away the binder and ties, and and bmt tip, which manipulates
of cane used for the perimeter of the woven area. The chart pull out the loose loops of the WOVe// cane.
below provides a guide to which cane to select based on the cane . Drive out the pegs
spacing between the holes, center to center, in the fran'le. The from below, using a hole- Long-nose pliers
closer the holes, the smaller the holes, and the more complex clearing tool, and pull out Used to grip and pull the cane in
the pattern, the finer gauge of cane you should choose . the remaining pieces of tight spaces.
cane, ensuring that all the
CANE GAUGE SPACING CANE GAUGE SPACING
holes are clear. Temporary pegs
Check the condition of the Used to hold the loose ends of
Superfine X in. (9.5 mm) Narrow n1ediun1 Y. in. (19 mm) framework and joints, and the canes being worked. Long
Fine-fine Ji in. (12.5 mm) Medium Xin. (19 mm) make repairs as appropriate. go!f tees make good pegs, or
Finally, clean and revive or you can use short lengths of
Fine %in. (16 mm) Cornn1on ;,: in. (22 mm)
refinish the woodwork . tapered dowel.

68
CHAIRS AND BENCHES: RECANING

Caning a seat frame


A number of w oven patterns are found on old
chairs, but the most successful , and, therefore, the
most common, is the six- way pattern describ ed
here. This has two pairs of canes that run back to
front , two pairs from side to side, and two lengths
that cross opposite diagonals. A seventh, binder
stage is used to finish the edges. If each stage is
followed methodically and the cane is neatly
threaded, what appears to be a complex pattern
can be achieved with relative ease.
Walnut-frame bedroom chair Bentwood dining chair
First stage Recaued in rile six-ll'ay patteru Recaued with fi ue caue
T he first stage is wo rked from the front to the back. H aYe the u•it!J .fiue:fine caue, bur using_fiue thro ugho ut to provide extra
chair facing yo u, set at a comfortable wo rking height. caue 011 rile diagonals . srrcugr!J for a lmger round seat.

1 Finding the 3 Working


central hole the first hole
Co unr t/1e 1111111ber of Take rile end of rile
holes in rile back rail half abo11e rile rail
to find rile ceurer . .rl11 and pass ir dou•n rile
111 ;even 11 11111ber ll'ill 111arked hole iu rile
place a 110/e in rile frour rail, keep iug the
111 iddle, aud au even s!Jiuy suiface Jacng
II IIUi ber ll'ill have a up. Give it a half-
hole ou each side of twist toward the
rile ceuter. Place a adjacen t hole ou the
temporary peg in the lift, aud replace th e
cen tral hole or in a te111porary "ll'orking"
hole on one side of peg to hold ir under
th e ceuter, and place sfig!Jr TCIISiOII.
another peg opposiTe
iu th e fro nt rail.

4 Working the
I J
2 Starting the second hole
first cane Pass the end up the
Pass r!Je.firsr length next hole and again
of caue th rough th e give it a half-twist so
back hole uutil its that it points to ward
leugt!J is eq ual the back rail with rile
above and below shiny suiface faci ng
the rail, aud then up. Transfer th e
sew re it 111itil a temporary peg iura
re111porary peg. this hole.

~
TEMPORARY
WORK! ' G PEG

69
CHAIRS AND BENCHES: RECANING

5 Working the 9 Tap eredfra mes


third hole Fra 111es th at are ~vider
Take th e cane across TEMPORARY at the fro nt than th e
to the back rail and back will have spare
down the opposite holes in th e front rail
hole. Give it a half- when all th e back
tl<rn and, keeping the holes are filled. Select
tension on the cane, holes in th e side rails
move the working and peg short lengths
peg into this hole. of cane into them to
mn parallel with th e
6 Working the existing caning. The
fourth hole comer holes are lift
Pass the cane up e111pcy at this stage.
through the next hole -~!----'1 ,.;!--~.' \;------'---
on the lift, give it a 1
half-twist and once l

more transfer the peg Second stage


in readiness to repeat T his is run from side to side and worked ac ross the frame in a
the process in the similar m anne r to the first stage. It is not necessary to weave
front rail. the cane , w hich simply overlays the front-to-back canes at
right angles to them.
7 Completing the
first caning Working
Continue in this wa y the cane
~111til all th e holes Leaving thefront
except the corner hole comer hole empty, peg
in one half of the rhe end if a lmgth
back rail have been of cane into thefirst
filled. Then thread lwle along the side.
the remaining half of Leave a short length
the cane across the underneath for tying
other half of the seat c1f later. Continue to
fram e, again leaving work the cane across
th e comer hole free. theframe, leaving t
he back corner holes
empty when you reach
the back if the seat.

8 Starting a Third stage


new cane This is worked from front to back and lies parallel with the
In the event that the first stage . Again, it is not woven but overlays stage two .
first cane is not long
enough to complete Working

~ =rr JI ] :] ~t
all the holes, peg the
end of the first cane,
the cane
Fo llo~11 the procedure
Jl IIJ II Jl ll ~
leaving 3 inches used fo r th e first
] ll
1 JL
(7 5mm) below the stage, but work the II
front or back rail.
Start a new cane in
cane to th e right side
and parallel with the II ]=rr TI ~I
th e next hole on the
opposite rail, pegging
first canes . Use the
stiletto to manipulate
II ] L\
it with surplus the line of the first lf II'
material below. canes, to set each pair
about !/,6 inch (2mm)
] ]
apart. This places j J JI ]JI II .~
th e canes in the right
position for weaving ~ ~ ~ •
th e diago nals, and
makes th e fo urth
stage easier.

70
CHAIRS AND BENCHES: RECANING

Fourth stage
This runs in front of and parallel with stage two , but is now
2 Spare holes
011 tapered seats, the
~ . . . .------1;l
wove n through the front-to-ba ck canes of the first and third
stages. Peg the end of the cane into the same right-hand hole
diagonal cane will
1101 meet the front
I
as stage two, leaving the corner hole free . Make sure the cane corner hole but will
is not twisted by sliding it through yo ur fingers. This w ill also finish a few holes
help yo u manipulate the little nodules, or knots, found on the from it in the front
cane, so they do not catch or tear. rail. The empty holes
will be filled when
the other half of the
seat fra me is caned-
they can be ignored
at this stage. I .\
1 Weaving the cane
Work the cane across the seat in front of th e second stage, taki11g eac/1
pair offront-to-back canes in turn . vVeave the end over the first cane,
under the second, over th e third, and under the fourth . Weave
between no more than two or three pairs at a time, and the11 pull
the cane through. R epeat this across the seat. 3 R eturning the cane
Take the cane up through the next hole on the right and weave it in
th e same way to~/Jard the back, so that it runs parallel with the first
cane and finish es in the same hole at the back.

2 Returning the cane


On reaching the other side, pass the cane up through the 11ext hole.
Continue weaving the end, but this time tmder the first cane to the
right, over the second, again working i11 f rom of che cane of stage two. si11g the side ho es
Continue weaving from side to side in chis way, always checking char Take che free end forward and up through the first adjacent hole in the
the cane is not twisted and leaving the back comer holes empty. side rail. Weave the cane diagonally under the side-to -side pairs and
over the front-to -hack pairs as bifore. R epeat until all the remaining
Fifth stage front and side holes are filled, leaving the right-hand comer hole clear.
The first of the diagonal canes is now woYen. this rime Some side holes may be used twice on a tapered seat (see page 72) .
starting from a corner hole. You may prefer to u e a slightly
wider cane for this stage . 5 Completing
the stage
Fill the remainder as
above, startingfrom
the next hole in the
back when an even
number of holes is
available in the fiwlt
rail, or from the front
for an odd number.
Work the cane into
the fro Ill lift-hand
1 Weaving the cane comer hole twice,
Starting at the rear right-hand comer hole, fasten the end of the cane. th e11 take it on to tl1e
Ensuring the cane is not twisted, weave it toward the front rail. Pass next side hole a11d
the free end over the front-to -back pairs of canes and under the side-to - complete the half.
side pairs. Weave about four pairs of canes at a time, and then pull Leave the rear lift-
the cane through. halld hole clear.

71
CHAIRS AND BENCHES: RECANING

6 T ap ered seats 2 Tri m ming the


In order to make the loose ends
diagonal canes 1'1111 Cut off the loose
parallel and not ends fro /II belol/1 the
excessively distorted, plugged holes. If a
it will sometin1es be hole lifi e111pty has
necessary to run two a loose end in it,
canes into the sa111e take the end up into
side holes . Decide th e next hole to be
which /10/es to use as pegged. Keeping the
the work progresses . tension 011 the end,
Wl1 enever a hole is tap in a peg to sewre
used t11Jice, 111iss its it, then wt the cane
opposite 1111111ber 011 flush ll'ith the top cif
the other side and fill the_{l·all/e.
it at tl1e next stage.
3 Preparing
the binder
Sixth stage C ut fo ur lengths of
This repeats the method used for the fifth stage, but starts from binder about 2 inches
the rear left-hand corner hole and is wo rked from left to right. (50nun) longer than
the seat rails. Tri111
Weaving one end cif each to _fit
the cane into th e comer holes .
!¥eave th e cane It is not absolu tely
under th e front -to- necessary to da111pen
hack pairs cif caues the cane, although
and over th e side-to- this wi II help it to
side ones. Double fo llow th e shape if
up the canes in th e tl1e rails are wrved.
corner holes . Fit two
canes into the side 4 Fitting
holes 111issed at the the binder
fifth stage to keep the Pass th e end cif a
panel balanced, and long length cif binder
111iss the opposite up through the rear
holes already fitted comer hole. Bwd
with two canes . th e end forward,
fo llowing the line
Plugging and the binder of holes . Insert the
With the woven panel completed, the canes are secured with prepared wd of a
pegs and the line of holes is covered w ith a binder. Only binder down illto th e
alternate holes are plugged, with the remainder left empry, sa111e hole, bend it
including the corner holes and those adja cent to them. Work forward, and secure
from each corner; rails w ith an even number of holes will th e canes with a
ha ve two emp ry or two plugged holes meeting in the middle. te111porary peg.

1 Plugging 5 Tying
the holes the binder
Cut basket-weave Til read the loose
cane or dowel pegs to end of a finer cane
be a tight fit in the up th e first clear hole,
holes and just shorter then loop it over the
than th e tl1ickness of binder and back
the fram e. Starting down the sa111e hole.
at the third hole from Pull t/1e loop tight
the corner, tap a peg and repeat t/1e
into alternate holes . procedure til roug/1
Use a clearing tool to the re111aining holes .
set them j ust below
the suiface. R emove
any te111porary pegs .

72
CHAffiS AND BENCHES: RECANING

6 Fi tting the end Using prew o v en cane


On reac/1ing the M aking canework by hand is time- consuming,
other comer, w t the
bi11der to length and and m any caned pieces of furniture are now fitted
tri111 th e end. Tuck it with prewoven machine-made cane panels. The
into the comer hole, six-way pattern is frequently used; it is produced i
cMnplete the loop tie
in the last hole, and
n a standard width and sold by length. Prewoven
take th e f ree end of cane is secured into a groove m achined in the fram e
th e cane diago nally and is not threaded through holes .
across and up into You will need a panel of cane sufficient to cover
the next clear hole
in the front rail. the fram e, a length of spline, a paper pattern, and
specially m ade hardwood wedges. M ake a driving
wedge about 4 inches (100nm1) long, 1 inch
(2.3mm) wide, and )i inch (3mm) thick at the tip .
Also make enough temporaty fitting wedges to fill
the groove-these should be 1 inch (25mm) long
and the sam e width and thickness .
1 Stripping the
7 Fitting the old panel
f ront binder Pry out th e old cane
Prepare the end of fro nl th e groove in
th e next binder and the frame, using a
insert it into the narrow chisel, and
corr1er hole. Plug the clean away th e old
hole to secure the glue. Select a spline
ends, and position slightly s111aller than
this new binder to the groove width.
COller the peg and
line of holes when
it is bent over.
Continue to tie the
binder as before, and 2 Ma king a
repeat the process groove pattern
around the next side Lay a sheet of st!ff
and back rails. paper over the fra me
and make a rubbing
cif the groove with a
wax crayon . T rim
the pattern !1 inch
9 Finishing (12m m) larger than
the binder th e outside line.
R emove th e working Center th e pa ttem on
peg fro /11 th e first the cane and wt th e
corner hole and insert panel to shape.
th e last prepared end
of th e binder. Pass 3 P reparing
the end of the finer the cane
cane up thro ugh Soak th e panel fo r
th e hole and plug about 15 minutes i
it to sewre all the 11 a bath of war111
ends. Tllis peg is water. Cut the spline
1101 hidden. cane about 1 inch
{25nun) longer than
th e total length of the
groove for a Clllved
shape, or wt and
111iter separate lengths
for rectilinear f rmn es .

73
CHAIRS AND BENCHES: RUSH SEATING

ush is used for making the seats of some


4 Fitting the cane
Place th e panel
shiny-side up onto
R country chairs. atural rush is available from
specialized suppliers in vari ous colors, according to
the fra me and pull
out any strands of its origin, but it is not a very common material.
cane that run along Imitation, or fiber , rush made from strands of
the grooves. Starting
at the center of th e
tw isted kraft paper are generally available . All are
back rail, drive the sold by weight. About 2;{ to 5 pounds (1 to 2kg)
cane into the groove, w ill be sufficient for one chair seat. Artificial
using the long wedge materials are easier to use than natural rush
and a hammer.
Follo w this with a because they are m ore consistent and available
temporary wedge to in continuous lengths. H owever, their uniformity
hold th e cane in lacks the traditional charac ter of the real material.
place. Secure the f ront
edge in th e same Preparing rush
way, then the sides . D ampen bundles of natural rush to make them pliable by
R epeat the process, either soaking them in a bathtub for about five minutes or
workir1g alternately by spraying them w ith water pri or to w orking. Wrap them
from back to fro nt in damp cloth to keep them moist.
and from side to The rush is formed into an even length by taking tw o
side fro m th e center or three lengths and tw isting them together, always in a
to the comers . clockwise direction . This is only necessary fo r the top of the
seat; w hen run underneath, the rush is no t twisted. Expel air
5 T rimming trapped in the rushes by squeezing and quickly running the
the cane hand down their length , forcing the air out. When joining
With th e cane well a new length of cord , simply knot the ends over the las t one
seated, th e projecting under the seat.
ends can now be Only lightly dampen imitation materials if you need to
trimmed. R emove the work tight bends.
temporary wedges one
at a tirne and trim 1 W orking a
off the vertical ends tapered f rame
of th e canes level To fi ll the front
with th e base of the comers of chairs that
groove, using a sharp are wider at the fron t
chisel and r·nallet. than at the back,
start by tying 1he end
6 Fixing the of the first length to
cane panel the inside of th e left-
Apply a bead of hand side rail with
white glu e into th e string. Take the
groove and tap in a lengthforward over
length of spline flush and under th e front
with the panel, using rail (1), then up and
a rubber mallet. If over the side rail (2).
the spline is in one Keeping th e tension
piece, start at the on th e length , pass it
back. When the ends across to the opposite
meet, cut off the side rail. Take the
overlap to create a length over and
neat butt j oint. For under the rail (3),
joined splines, start then over and under
at the corners. Wipe th e front seat rail (4),
off surplus glu e and and tie th e end to the
allow the panel to inside of the side rail.
dry and shrink tight.
CHAIRS AND BENCHES: RUSH SEATING

2 Filling 5 C ompleting
the corners the seat
Continu e to tie and Continue weaving
wrap separate lengths and packing the
in this way, until the remainder of th e seat.
space between them If th e seat is wider
at the front is the than it is deep, the
sarne as the length of sides will be filled
the back rail. If you bifore th e front and
are using natural back rails. In this
rush, knot lengths case, weave th e rush
together and twist in a fig ure-of-eight
them into a cord. f rom front to back.
Twist art!ficial rush Use a lever tool to
as you work to stop help squeez e th e last
itfrom unwinding. lengths into place.
Finally, tie off the
loose end of rush to
the underside of the
3 Filling the seat seat, trim it, and
Tie the end of a new tuck it in neatly.
length of rush to the
lift-hand side rail.
Wrap it around the
front of the frame as
bifore, but continue
over and 1.mder the
back rail. Pass it up
and over the right-
hand side rail, then
across and over the
opposite rail. Take it
over and under the
back rail, and then
forward and over the
front rail. Fill the
fram e in this way,
adding more rush
when required.

4 Packing the
corners
When about eight
rows are completed,
temporarily tie ciff the
working length, then
squeeze the rush
woven together and
regulate the weave,
using a lever tool,
such as a wooden
spatula handle or an
old screwdriver. T urn
the chair over and
trim off any loose
ends under the seat.
Pack folded scraps
of rush or pieces of
corrugated cardboard
between the top and
bottom lengths to
help support the seat.

75
CHAIRS AND BENCHES: UPHOLSTERY

BASlC UPHOLSTERY

T raditional upholstery work is time-consuming,


and it requires a good eye and developed hand-
craft skills to create pleasing, well-balanced work.
The beginner should start with manageable
projects to learn the basic techniques. Careful
notes, and even photographs taken as the chair is
For the amateur, stripping an old sprung seat can stripped, will help to nuke rebuilding the shape
seem like an archaeological dig, with up to nine easier. The examples show n here deal primarily
layers of material on the frame . On stripping the old with dining chairs, w hich m ake a good introduction
stuffing and support, all that is left is a skeletal chair to traditional upholstery, fro m which m ost of the
frame that can provide few clues to the final shape . basic skills can be developed.
Tools and equipment Tack hammer Needles
Upholstering a chair is a relatively clean activity and can be A lightweight, small-headed The needles used in upholstery
undertaken in the house. H owever, stripping old upholstery hammer with two faces or Olle work are: double-pointed straight
is very dirty work and should be done either in the open or face and a claw. Some hammers or mattress needles; wrved spring
in a w orkshop . W ear a mask to prevent inhaling dust. have a magnetic face for picking needles with a bayo11et point; and
You need enough space to enable the coverings to be laid up tacks . A small cabinetmaker's wrved or semicirwlar needles, all
out and the frame to be man euvered. Set the chair fi·ame at a hammer can be used illStead. available in a range cif sizes.
comfortable height on low trestles or on a worktop clamped
to a portable w orkbench. A raised lip all aro und the Webbing pliers Regulator
supporting surface will stop the fram e from slipping off. Special pliers ~vith wide jaws for Used to manipulate the striffing
M any woodwo rking tools can be used fo r up holstery, but grip webbing or burlap and for into position and shape. Use the
you will also need a limited number of special hand tools, tensioning leather coverings. flattened end to tuck in coverings.
available from uph olstery suppliers, plus a sewing machine.
Utlitiy knife T ack remover
Webbing stretchers Upholstery scissors A shmp knife used to trim Made with an angled clawed tip,
Used to apply tension to the Strong scissors used to Cl/ t fabrics linings a11.d coverings. a tack remover is used to extract
webbing when tacking to aJrarne. and webbing. D ressmaker's tacks and decorative chair nails.
shears can also be used. Ripping chisel
Upholstery pins Used to drive out old tacks with Staple gun
Pins temporarily hold burlap and a cabinetmaker's mallet. Other- An alternative to the traditional
coverings in place. wise, use an old screwdriver. tacking, it applies staples to secure
coverings to the frame.
CHAIRS AND BENCHES: UPHOLSTERY

Upholstery materials Adhesives Trimmings


With a fe w exceptions, the materials used for upholstery have Comact adhesives for bondi11g The line of tacks sewring the
not outwardly changed in centuries, except that most modern upholstery foams are available in covering is usually trimmed with
materials are flame-retardant to meet cmTent safety standards. liquid or aerosol forms . Latex decorative braid or gi111p. A wide
cow ad fabric adhesive can be used ra11ge of types is available.
Webbing Stuffing to attach braid i11stead cifgi1up pius.
Fabric webbi11gforms the support A11imal hair a11d vegetable fiber Tacks
platform for the seat, so use o11ly are traditio11al st1if/i11gs. Hair c Linings Large upholstery tacks range
goo d-quality cotton twill or jute. an ojte11 be reused washed a11d Close-wove11 unbleached cotton from i£ inch (1Omm) to ;,; inch
Rubber webbing is a resilient teased. Fiber is coarse-textured batting is used to cover the second (16mm) and are used for
support for seat cushiollS. and less expensive than hair; it st1ifjing cif traditio11alupholstery attaching webbing a11.d temporary
provides a reaso11ably resilient and to make a lilti11g over foa m tacking. Fine tacks have a smaller
Springs st1ifji11g . !11ats of mbberized hair pads. Black cotton batting is used head and range fro m !-{ i11ch
Made in a range cif wire ga uges are used in the seats and backs cif to line the underside cif seat frames (6mm) to 1 inch (25m m). The
and sizes; the lower the gauge some reproduction chairs. to form a dust cover. Cambric is a i£ inch (1 Omm) and ;,{ i11ch
lutmber, the firmer the spri11g. fi11e wax-treated fabric used for (12mm) sizes are used to sewre
The heaviest are used for seats, Polyurethane foam making feather-wshion cases . linings and top covers.
the lighter for backs and arms. Thisfiexible material combines
th e bulk of traditional st1iffi11g Wadding Twines, threads, and cords
Burlap with the resilience of springs. Cotton felt 111adding about 1 inch Twine is used to tie the spri11gs to
This is a coarse fabric made from Poly foam is made in soft, (25m m) thick orfibeifl/1 is used the webbing a11d tie the st1ifjing
j ute and graded by weight. Th e medium, and firm grades of latex as a top st1iffing or built up as a into shape. Traditional fiber
heaviest grade covers coil spri11gs ntbber or polyuretha11e plastic, layered pad to stop hair st1ifjing twi11es are dressed ~11ith beeswax to
or the webs of a drop -i11 seat in a range cif thicknesses. from coming through. strengthen them and make them
frame; th e intermediate grade easier to work. Sewing threads
and lightweight open-weave Upholstery nails Top covers and carpet thread come in a ra 11ge
fabric cover the seco11d st1ifjing. These nails secure and finish the Upholstery fabrics are available of colors for sewing seams a11d
edges of heavy fabrics or leather in a wide range of types, designs, piping, and for attach ing braid.
coverings. Gimp pins are fine, and colors . Always try to use t Lacing cord is used to tie springs
small-headed nails used for he best quality you can afford. together and to the frame, as is
sewri11g gimp or braid trimming. Heavy fabrics are more durable sisal stri11g. Piping cord makes
bw also more diffiwlt to work. a neat beaded edge to scams.
WEBBING
l.I:'IINGS
CHAIRS AND BENCHES: UPHOLSTERY REPAIRS

GE EJRAL JREPA[JR
ith regular attention , upholstery w ill last a should be beaten to avoid the possibility of drawing
W considerable time. H owever, soft m aterials,
such as fabrics, w ill wear. Even coverings on
feathers through the covering. H ave any soiled
upholstery dry- cleaned or use a commercial fabric
seldom-us ed chairs can degrade in strong sunlight, shampoo, follo w ing the m anufacturer's instru ctions.
causing colors to fade and fib ers to weaken . T ry to Old fibrous m aterials can weaken and stretch ,
avoid direct sunligh t w hen placing furniture in a w hich w ill allow the upholstery to gradually
room , and change its position from time to time. collapse or distort. Rips and tears occur, and piping
R egular cleaning w ith a vacuum cleaner, using can show wear. All of these problem s can be
suitable attachments, helps m aintain the fa bric in rectified, and resolving them w ill give the original
good condition. H owever, fea ther-filled cushions upholstery a longer lease of life.

Sagging seats Torn cov ers


A sagging seat usually indicates that the support webbing has T ears and rips in fab rics tend to follow the warp and weft of
stre tched, or that perhaps one or two of the tacked ends have the weave, fo rming a triangular flap. Coarse-textured fabrics
wo rked loose . Webbing attac hed to the underside of a frame can be sewn, but the stitching w ould be obvious on smooth
can be re-tensioned or reinfo rced with additional webs to coverings such as leather cloth. Bonding a patch of mate rial
provide an inte rim repair th e is remade. under the tear reinforc es the repair and will be less noticeable.

1 R eleasing 1 Fitting a patch


the webbing c~l t a patch of a
T~1m the seat upside thin fabric, such as
down on a workbench canvas, slightly larger
and remove the dust than the torn area.
cover, iffitted . Use a regulator or
Working on one the handle of a spoon
slack web at a time, to insert the patch
remove the tacks from evenly under the
one end, using a tear or rip.
ripping chisel or an
old screwdriver.
2 Gluing the tear
2 R e- tensioning Peel back the loose
the web flap of the covering,
Unfold and grip the and temporarily
free end of the old hold it with an
webbing with upholsterer's pin-
webbing pliers. H old use masking tape for
it under tension and leather. Carifully
attach it with tacks apply latex fabric
(see page 77) . lf you adhesive under the
don't have these edges of the tear and
pliers, use standard to the meetingfaces
ones, repositioning of th e flap and the
them after each tack new patch.
is put in place.

3 R einforcing 3 P inning
the webbing the .flap
Alternatively, tack Tum th e flap back
and stretch new into position and
lengths of webbing then mate up the tom
across the l4nderside edges, taking care not
of the seat, leaving to spread the glue
the original in place. onto the suiface. Use
Position the webs pins to hold the fabric
slightly to one side to against the tension of
avoid hitting the old the cover until the
tacks (see page 82). glue has set.
CHAIRS AND BENCHES: UPHOLSTERY REPAIRS

Worn piping 4 Stripping the


Piping is sewn into the seams of the covering; because it old piping
protrudes from the smface, it will almost alwa ys wea r before Sewre the covering i11
the main covering. It can be replaced using hand stitching. place with pins . -----
Using a dress111aker's
1 Cutting seam ripper orfi ne
the fabrics scissors, carefully
Try to match the cut the th reads that
original cloth in both hold th e old piping
color and texture. if along the seams.
you can't, aim for an
accurate color match .
Cut diagonal strips
of fabric 1/£ inches
(38mm) ~11ide and
stack them together,
keeping the wea11e
in the same way
direction. Fabric cut
"on the bias" in this
manner will follow
curves smoothly. 5 Fitting the
new piping
In sert the p1ping into
the seam and secure
it with slip stitching
(see page 80). Make
the stitches about
WASTE
/{ inch (12mm) long
for coarse f abrics and
1,1 inch (1Omm) or
less for fine fabrics co
create a near finish.

2]oining the fabric


Lay the end of one strip at 90 degrees to the end of th e next, with
th eir fa ce sides together. lvfachine stitch straight across to join thern. 6 Working a
Sew the remaining strips end to end in the same way, always with curved edge
their "right sides" together. Press the seams fl at, and cut off th e waste. vVhere the piping
fo llows a WY!led
upholstery edge, cut
notches in th e fla nge.

3 Forming the piping


Fold the strip offabric in half lengthwise over a piece of piping cord of
the appropriate size as you f eed it through th e sewing machine. Stitch
the seam close to the cord, using a special piping, or welting, foo i.

79
...__ _ _ CHAIRS AND BENCHES: UPHOLSTERY REP .,.~--~----.J
IR.S

Worn rubber webbing


SLIP STITCHING Slack or missing rubber webbing ca uses the cushions of an
T his hand-sewn method is commonly used to close up a seam easy chair to sag. The webbing may be stapled, tacked in
between t\VO pieces of fabric. place , or held with special clips for wooden or metal frames.
Webs should be spaced no more than their w idth apart, and
1 Making they should cover .JO percent of the seat area.
a slipknot
Usi11g a 3 i11ch 1 Calculating
(7 5111111) curved the length
11eedle, 111ake a small Rubber webbi11g
stitch at one end i11 111/ISt be cut shorter
the fold offabric; pull than the spa11 of the
the thread through. frallle to provide th e
Holdi11g the thread te11sio11 required.
taut, coil the short Th e sta11dard 2 i11ch
wd over i tse!f and (50111111) U1ebbi11g
the long thread, and is usually reduced
pass the wd through by 10 percen t i11
the loop made in the le11gth for seats a11d
process. Tighten the 7'/2 percelltfor backs.
knot ar1d slide it This is deducted
doum the thread. (1·o111 th e dista11ce
·betr1Jee11 th e clips
or e11d faste ners .

2 Using clips
fo r wood
Cut the webbi11g to
length, ensuring that
the ends are square.
Secure the steel clips
to the webbing ends
by squeezing them in
a vise. Slot the u1eb
i11to place with the
2 Making the stitch rou11ded shoulder of
Make the first stitch through the opposite fold cifthe sea111, setting it the clip 011 th e i11side.
back about Y,. inch (2mm)fi'o111 the knot position. Take the needle Th e iiiiiCf edge of the
to the other side and 111ake the next stitch, agai11 setting it back by sea t frallle should be
about y,. inch (21111n) from "'here the first stitch emerged. Repeat this rou11ded to prevent
seq11wce, pulling the sea111 closed after every six stitches or so. wear on the webbing.

3 Makrng a 3 Using metal-


French knot tube clips
Make a small stitch First wt th e u'ebbi11g
at the end of the to le11gth. Usi11g the
seam, a11d ;vind the old 1f!ebbi11g as a
thread over the needle guide, 111ark a11d th e11
as it e111erges . Pull pierce holes through
the thread thro11gh th e e11ds of th e 11ew
and tighten it i11to a webbi11g. Fold the
knot to sewre the e11ds Of/er th e 111etal
stitching. To prevent clips bifore fitting the
the k11ot _fi-o111 comi11g staples and washers
undo11e, 111ake trFo provided. Be11d the
lo11g stitches back and e11ds of the staples
forth along the sea111 over with pliers and
bifore you filially cut ha111111er the111 flat
the thread. 011 th e u11derside.

0
CHAIRS AND BENCHES: DROP-IN SEAT

R E- OVER[ JG [)ROP- I ~ E . ..::~T


ran"Ied dining chairs are som etimes fitted w ith foam s are also common. The ac tual base of th e pad,
F upholstered, drop-in, or slip , seat pads that either
rest in a rabbet cut on the inside of the seat rails or
up on ' 'vhi ch the upholstery is built, is often no m ore
than a panel of pl)";vood, but traditional upholstery
sit on the corner blocks used to brace the fram e. uses a webbed woo den fra m e. If, after stripping the
T hese pads were traditionally stuffed w ith vege table old upholstery, the fram e is in a poor state, it co uld
fiber or animal hair, but nowadays plastic or latex be simpler to m ake a new one than to rep air it.

Top cot>er-------------. Lining B urlap panel


This good-q11ality 11pho/stery Co tton batting is A heavyweight
fabric can be replaced 111hw wom, 11sed to cover and b11rlap gives s11pporr
witho11t having to complerely shape th e st1!{fing. and is 11sed to
reupholster th e pad. prevwt th e st1!{fing
from f alling th ro 11gh
th e webbing.
Wadding
Th is thin layer of
wadding orfibeift/1
stops th e st1![fing
fi·om working to
the swf ace.

stuffing
The best s t~iffi ng is an
animal-hair mixture. Stuffing cu !; -- -----'
St1![fings madefrom Loops of upholsterers
vegetable fi bers are twine bind the
less expensive. s t~iffing togeth er. ______.,.___ Wo oden frame
A hardwood fram e is
Dust cover - joined by dowels at
A black cotton ba11i11g A scro11g sear the comers. Th e
or lightweight burlap plaifonn is made beveled edge il-nproves
dust cover keeps dirt frolll i11ten11oven the shape of the
iff thefloor. upholsTery webbing. dom ed upholstery.

Stripping the frame Making a fra me R (\


R ei/lOlling old striffing can be a if a frame is not worth repairing,
take the overall dimensions f rom
rJ ., 0
\...:<.-"'------.....:::...su
\;J
dirty business, so spread sheets of
11ewspaper around th e work area the old pad fram e orfro m inside
and wear a f ace mask to preve11t the chair fram e, and COI ISfntct a
yo11 from i11haling du st. Set th e new one f rom planed 1 x 2 inch
frame in the vise and, using a (25 x 50mm) hardwood, using
mallet and ripping chisel or an dowel joints or bridle joints.
old screwdriver, drive out the Make an a llo~vance for th e
tacks sewring the covering. Pull th ickn ess of the lining f abric and
off the old striffing, and thm top covering, which are wrapped
drive out the tacks holding th e over the edges . Bevel th e top
burlap panel a11d webbing. f rame edge to reduce the thickn ess
down to the depth of th e seat n_________ __...~l;
rabbet, and chamfer the edges . t:IC==================~::J

81
HAIRS AND BENCHES: DROP-IN SEAT

Webbing the frame Fitting the burlap panel


The support for the seat is provided by stretched w ebbing run A taut, heavyweight burlap panel is used to cover the webs
from front to back and from side to side and nailed to the and prevent the stuffi ng from falling through.
fram e. Start with one length in the middle, and space the
others about 1 inch (25mm) apart.

1 Attaching
the webbing
Clamp the frame
to the bench. Take
the continuous roll
of webbing and
fold over the first
1ii inches (40mm).
Tack the f olded end
to the center of the
back rail, about
if inch (12mm) from
the outer edge; use
five If inch (15mm)
tacks. Stagger the
tacks in order not to
split the rail.
2 Fastening the back edge
2 Stretching Stretch the burlap to the back rail and, starting from the middle, secure
the webbing it with tacks spaced about 2 inches (50mm) apart. Fold the burlap
Using a webbing over and f asten more tacks between those in the first row. Stretch and
stretcher, tension the secure the burlap across the sides offram e in the same way.
web across the fram e.
Depending on the Applying the stuffing
type being used, Traditional hair-and-fiber stuffing is attached to the burlap
attach the webbing to with loops of twine known as stuffing ties; it is built up to
the stretcher and lever form a loose domed pile 4 to 6 inches (100 to 150mm) high.
down the handle to
tension the webbing. 1 Making
stuffing ties
Thread a large half
circle needle with
twine. Start near one
corner of the plaiform
with a slipknot, then
sew three or four rows
of stuffing ties across
3 Securing the end the burlap, making
Attach the webbing each loop about
to the fron t rail with 1ii inches (40mm)
three tacks. R emove high. Finish with
the stretcher and cut a double-hitch knot
the webbing, leaving a (see page 87).
1ii inch (40mm) flap
to fo ld over and attach 2 Adding
with two more tacks. the stuffing
Stretch and secure the Push handfuls of
remaining front-to- stuffing beneath the
back webbing in the ties, teasing it out to
same way, followed form even rows. Fill
by the side-to-side the spaces between
webbing, which is the rows with more
interwoven with it. stuffing, adding more
to the center until
you have constructed
an even dome shape.

82
CHAIRS AND BENCHES: DROP-IN SEAT

Lining with cotton batting 4 Securing


Unbleached cotton batting is an inexpensive material used as the lining
the first covering to secure and shape the stuffing. Fasten the lining with
a neat row of ;1 inch
1 Fitting (1Omm) tacks,
the lining working from the
Cut a panel of cotton center to the corners.
batting 2 to 3 inches Tack the opposite
(50 to 75mm) larger edge of the fabric,
than the seat fram e and then the other
on all sides. Lay two sides. i\!Iake neat
the f abric over the pleats at each comer,
stuffi ng with its and fasten these with
weave square to the tacks. Finally, trim
front rail, and then tile fabric close to the
hold the lining in line of tacks .
place by temporarily
tacking it to the outer 5 Tearing the
edges of all four sides wadding
of the fram e. Place a layer of cotton
wadding or .fibetjill
2 Secondary over the lining to
tacking prevent the shiffing
Support th e f rame on materials from
one comer, holding it working through the
between your arm top cover. Holding
and body to leave the wadding down
both hands free to firml y ~!lith one
attach the lining. hand, tear it to size,
Tension it with leaving a feathered
one hand while edge all around.
driving three or four
temporary tacks into
th e underside of the
fra me. Tack all the
oth er sides in the Fitting the top cover and dust cover
sanze way . ark the center points on all four rails with a soft pencil. Cut
the top covering fa bric to shape-, allowing an extra 2 inches
(SOmm) all round . C ut small V notches in the edges of the
fab ric to mark the center on all four sides . Lay the cover
centrally over the pad and tack into place as for the lining.

3 T ensioning Fitting a
the lining dust cover
R emove the tacks Stap le a cotton panel
fro m th e edges of the to the underside of
f rame, then stretch the pad to cover the
the fa bric diagonally tacks. Use a similar
over each comer and method to that
tack it to the under- described fo r the
side. R est the f rame burlap seat panel,
on one edge and but fo ld the edges
remove th e upper under before stapling.
tacks. R e-tension the
f abric while running
the.fiat of your free
hand to ward the
edge to smooth out
the shiffing.
CHAIRS AND BENCHES: DROP-IN SEAT

Using foam upholstery Re-covering a pincushion pad


When using a foam pad to cushio n a framed drop-in seat. fit Unlike the drop-in seat pad, which is made as a separate unit,
th e webbing and cover the frame with a burlap panel as for a some chairs ha\·e a shallow pad that is attached to the top of
traditional stuffing. Plywood platforms need no preparation. the seat frame. These are known as pincushion seats. The
stuffing is built up on a webbing base in a similar way to that
1 Cutting used for a drop-in seat, but the co\·ering is trin,med with braid
the foam or fmishing chair nails.
Place the fra me or
pa11el o11to 1-illch 1 Stripping tire
(2 5-llull)-thick, finll - old upholstery
deiiSity foal// . D rm11 This type ~(pad is
arou11d it with a felt- ciftw used 011 elegant
tip pe11 , the11 w t the 11whoga11y fra111ed
fomll :-1 i11ch (12111111) side or bcdroo111
la rger all arou11d. A11 chairs. Take care
ordi11ary bread k11i{e 11'he11 re111ovi11g rile
will wtfoalll, but a11 racked 11/ateria/s not
electric carvi11g k11i{e ro split tl1e brittle
is priferab /e. JI'Ood. Use a tack
rc111ovcr or pi11cers,
2 Thickming i11stead of dri1'i11g
the pad tacks out ll'ith a
Cut !-1-i11ch (12-llllu) ripping chisel.
thick foa/11 to the
smue shape as the
seat, but 2:-1 i11ches 2 Making the pad
(6011u11) s11wl/er all Tack ll'ebbing and a
arou11d. Cut a burlap panel to the
shallou' bevel 011 its _(rm11c as for a drop-in
edges, tl1en bond it seat. Se111 i11 st1!ffi11g
centrally to the tics i11 the sa111e 11'ay,
underside of the and build up a
lm;ger pad. This IFill shallou' do111e of
create a do111e slwpe. st1iffing !Jeld 111ith a
cotto11 batti11g tacked
3 Taping the edge all rou11d and thm
.·.·
Glue strips cif cotto11 trimmed just inside
batting 5 inches the area of the pad.
(125nuu) wide to the Altematively, use a
top cif the pad so the foa/11 pad with the
edges overlap 3 i11ches edges u11derwt at an
(7511uu). 17Jese stn'ps angle in place of the
will sewre tl1e foam traditio11al stJiffing.
and shape the edges
into a CJuve. 3 Fitting the
top cover
4 Securing the pad Cut the cover about
Place the pad on the /{ inches (18111111)
center of the fra/11e or larger than the
base panel, and the11 .fi11ished shape.
te111porarily tack Te111porarily_(asten
through the tape, the cover into place
as when tacking a ll'ith fine tacks,
lining. Tuck the tucki~1g the edges
edges of the foanJ under all arou11d.
under to produce a TV/J ell the te11sio11 is
wrved profile. Tack cve11, tack the COIJer
or staple the tape to pen11anently. Fi11ish
the underside. Fit the the edges ll'ith close-
lini11g a11d top cover _fitting chair 11ails or
(see page 83) . SCII'II - 011 braid.

84
CHAIRS AND BENCHES: STUFFED SEAT

TRADITIO:.\'AL §TG'FFED SE~~T


tuffed seats are the thick seat pads enclosing most
S or all of the seat rails on dining chairs. The
covering is either tacked under the frame or
fastened and trimmed on the face of the rails.
Early seats used a thick pad of stuffing built up on
burlap-covered webbing fastened to the top of the
frame. Later seats used coil springs . The webbing
supp orts for the springs were tacked to the under- Top cover
side of the rails. The positi on of the webbing tack G'plwlstcry-grade pattemed or
plain -colonred fabric, lila de jrolll
holes on a bare frame indicates whether springs natnral and nwn -lllade fibres in a
were originally fitted to the seat, although they ll'idc range of types to suit all
may have been added subsequently. styles <!F ll'ork.
The stuffing is built up and then consolidated
with stitching to form an edge roll that creates the
overall shape. Where springs are not used, the
stuffing is built on a flat burlap platforn'l similar to
that of a drop-in seat. The burlap panel of a sprung
seat is shaped to cover the springs. This example
deals with a sprung seat, but the methods for
forming the stuffing are similar for both types.
First stuffing
Medi urn-weight burlap Hair or fiber stuffing
Used to cover and retai11 tile first built up to for/11 a
layer rif Stlif.fing. Stitched tlli:OllcfZ/i pad and held in place
ties fasten tile scrilll to the lieally- with st1![fing ties.
weigllt l1essian below, to
consolidate tile st'!ffing.
H eavy-
weight burlap
Wadding Used to cover th e
A thin layer of cotton springs and support
ll'adding or fibeljill the st1!{fing.
creates a soft feel and
prevents the st1![fing Spring ties
_{1-o111 ll'Orking its way T hick cord used to
tlirongh the covering. link springs together
and to tie them to
Braid or the frame to stop
A decorative tri111111ing them from buckling.
used to cover the line Edge roll
of tacks. Afirlll edgefonned
by co111pressing tile
Lining st 1~{fing IIlith stitches cone" co111pression
Cotton batting througl1 the burlap. springs se/1'11 to Dust cover
nsed to cover tile heavyweight bmlap A liglit~veight that is
second st1!{fing. and !!'ebbing . fabric tacked to th e
underside of th e rails
Seco nd st1!l}ing to prevent dust jro111
,'vfore st1!{fing, held falling to tile floor.
IIlith st1!{{1ng ties, is Webbing
used to build up the fnteYI/JOVe/1 COtton
seat shape. or jute lllebbing
tacked to the under-
side of the rails as a
seat support.

5
F.::::
CHAIRS AND BENCHES: STUF..:. D:...S
E.:: .:.__ _ _ _ _ _ _--1
..:.T
:::E:::A

Preparing for work 4 P reparing


C lear the workbench or set up trestles to support the chair. If the f ra me
the frame is polished, lay strips of foam-backed carpet on the Make sure all the
wo rk surface to protect the fi nish . tacks are removed.
Inspect the joints and
Stripping the upholstery rails, and repair them
Although it is possible to rejuve nate an upholstered seat as required. R efinish
with-o ut stripping all the materials, a new seat built from the wood and then
the frame up will provide longer service . bind the legs with a
cloth to protect
1 R emoving them while the
the covering 11pholstery work
Start by removtng the is completed.
top cover. Carifully
pry out or pull the
tacks fro m coverings
attached to theface
of the frame; yo 1.1 can Building a sprung seat
use a ripping chisel Start by webbing the frame . The amount of webbing will
to clear the tacks that depend on the size of the chair. A good guide is to allow
are holding coverings abo ut the width of one fin ger between the webs at th e back
under the rails. T1y and sides , and rwo fi ngers at the fro nt. The webs are tac ked
to save the fabric to to the underside of the seat frame in a similar manner to that
use as a pattem for desc ri bed fo r a drop-in seat (see page 82). Position the we bs
the n e~v cover. to provide all- around support to the base of the springs . M ost
often, fou r springs are placed symmetrically on the webbing.
In order for the springs to exert equal pressure, arrange the
twisted ends at the to p of the coils to face the center. If a fi fth,
central, spring is needed, place its tw ist fac ing forward.
2 Removing
the stuffing 1 Stitching
Peel off the wadding the springs
and untack the Start at one corner or
lining. Lift off the with the central
second stuffing layer spring, if used. With
to reveal the burlap- the chair standing
covered firs t stuffing . upright or laid on its
Cut the twine ties, back, stitch the base
remove the tacks of the spring to the
securing the burlap, webbing, using a
and cu t the st•iffing curved spring needle
ties at the same threaded with twine.
time as you remove
the s t~iffi ng .

3 R emoving
the springs
R emove the tacks,
always fo llowing the
grain, and cut the
spring ties to enable 2 Starting
you to lift off the the stitching
heavyweight bu rlap. Pass the needle up
R emove th e spring through the webbing,
lacing cord and then close to the outside
cut the twine to free edge of the base of
the springs . R emove the spring. Pass it
the underside dust back through, close to
cover, if that has the inside of the coil,
110t already been and sewre the spring
stripped, and then with a slipknot.
the webbing.

86
CHAIRS AND BENCHES: STUFFED SEAT

3 Using a half- 3 Lacing


hitch knot the springs
Secure the remainder Lace all the springs
if th e coil with two or from f ront to back
three half-hitch knots and from side to side
stitched thro ugh the in this way, keeping
webbing and spaced the tension even.
equally apart. Move Wh ere lengths of
on to the next spring, twine cross, bind
and sew it to the them together with a
webbing with three or lock loop . Tie the
Jour half-hitch knots. loose ends of each
twine to the top coil
4 Using a double- of the spring with a
hitch knot double-hitch knot, so
Sew the other springs that they are held at
in place in the same a slight angle.
way, and, finally , tie
off the twine with a
double-hitch knot Covering the spring
on the last spring. H eavyweight burlap fab ric is used to cover the springs evenly
and to provide a sound base fo r the stuffing.

1 Fitting
Tying the springs the burlap
In o rder for the springs to compress as one unit, the tops of C ut the burlap panel
the coils are tied together with lengths of spring tw ine run about 1 inch (25mm)
from back to front and from side to side. larger tha n the seat.
Tension the fabric
1 Sewring over the spring
the twine without compressing
Partially drive ~ inch chem, and fasten it
(16mm) tacks into the co the top if the rails
top edges if the seat with light tacking.
frame in line with the l¥ hen the cover
springs . Cut the is even, fo ld over
twine into lengths the edges and tack
about twice the size it permanently.
of the seat. Knot the
twine around a back
tack about 9 inches
(225m) from the end
and then drive in
tack to secure it. 2 Stitching
the springs
Sew the tops of the
springs to th e bur/alp
cover, employing the
same method as
when tying them
to the webbing .

2 Tying the knots


Compress the rear spring by about 2 inches (50mm), and secure th e
second coil with a dove-hitch knot . Continue across and onto the top
coil of the spring, and tie a lock-loop knot. Secure the next spring in
the reverse order, and fi nally tie off the twine on the opposite tack.

87
CHAIRS AND BENCHES: STUFFED SEAT

Building the first stuffing


Once the fo undation of webbing and springs is in place, the
hair or fiber stuffing materials can be added.

1 Sewing
stuffing ties
Using a curved
needle, sew a row of
stufjir1g ties 2!.1 inches
(60111111) jro111 the
bot torn edge of the
sloping face of the
burlap a11d across the
rniddle (see page 82).

4 Making through ties


Usi11g a 111attress 11eed/e and spring twi11e, stitch ties through th e
st1ifji11g to hold it ill place. Starti11g ill o11e comer of th e coveri11g, push
tile 11eedle down through th e st1!{ji11g and burlap covering the springs .
Take the threaded end abo11t '4 i11cl1 (181111 11) forward, passing it back
up to th e point cif e11try artd sew ring with a slipknot.
Co11ti1111e to 111ake the ties ar01111d the seat u;ith 4 incl1es (100111111)
stitches above a11d '4 inch (18111111) beJou', fin ishing in th e 111iddle cif
th e seat. Do 1101 catch the spri11gs.
2 Placing
the stuffing 5 Tacking
Pack rolls of sflifji11g the seat
under th e ties to form Starting at th efron t,
a finn edge, and build re111ove afeu' of th e
~tp the cen ter to about te111porary tacks at a
4 inches (1OOmm) time and, if required,
deep, using nwre push 111ore stuffing
s t~iffing . Manipulate under th e burlap to
th e st1ifjing to make it firm up the edge.
consistent 1111d even in T uck the edge of the
density and shape. burlap under the
st1.ifjing and tack it
temporarily to th e
bevel on th e top edge
of tl1e seat. Fol!o wi11g
a thread to keep th e
te11sion evm, tack
it close to the rail,
working around all
3 Covering fo ur sides .
with burlap
Cut an oversized 6 Pleating
panel of llledium - the comers
weight burlap to Pack th e comers with
cover th e st1ifjing, st1ifjing 1111til hard.
drape it evenly Tuck in the burlap
over the seat, and to jor111 11ea t pleats
temporarily tack it at th e front comer,
to each rail. i\1ake a11d tack the edges
a diagonal cut in the to sew re th em.
back corners to fit the
covering around the
back legs . Trim th e
surplus and fo ld in
the spare fabric at
th e ends.
CHAIRS AND BENCHES: STUFFED SEAT

Forming an edge roll 4 Making the


In order to give the seat a well-defined shape and provide a next stitch
firm support, blind stitches are used to consolidate the sides lllSerr th e needle
before an edge roll is formed . about 2 inches
(50111111) alongfi'olll
1 Us ing a the first stitch, again
regulator at about 45 degrees,
Moving the stl-iffing and pull it through
around with a to the eye as before.
regulator helps to Push the needle
reinforce and even backll'm'd to e/lleige
out the edges . Insert 1 inch (2 5nun) }'o111
the regulator through the point of entry.
the burlap, and use
a stirring actio11
to gather th e fiber 5 Tying
around the spike and
pack it into position.
the thread
Before pulling th e /
needle out, ll'ind the
tlmad sewred by tile
slipknot rhree ri111es in
a clockll'ise direction
around the needle.
Pull rl1e needle
through rhe loops ro
nwke a r(gl1t knor
in th e rhread.
2 Blind stitching
Starting about
1:.1 inches (40mm)
}'om one of the back 6 Completing
legs, insert a mattress the stitching
needle threaded with Continue in this way
spring twine into along the side, the
the edge just above front, the other side,
the tack line, at an ·and then the back,
angle of 45 degrees. sewn"ng the ends cif the
thread with a double-
hitch knot. Make a
second row of stitches
in a similar way,
about :.1 inch (12mm)
above the first row.
Model the shape with
3 Knotting a regulator.
the stitch
Pull the needle 7 Forming the
through, but not edge ro ll
all th e lllay out. Work tl1e edge inro an
With th e eye still even line, using
in th e stiiffing, angle a regulator. i\!Jark
it toward the back parallel stitch lines
comer, aud push it abow /{ inch (22 nnn)
backward so that }'o111 the edge on
the eye enieiges the rop and sides.
close to tl1e tack Starting at the side,
line. Pull the needle 111ake a series cif
out, tiie/1 tie the l-inch (2 5-nlln) long
end of th e tlmad stitches to pass r(ght
with a slipknot through rhe edge, and,
and pull taut. .finally, k11ot the111 as
described previously.

9
CHAIRS AND BENCHES: STUFFED SEAT

Second stuffin g Fitting the co v ering


Add more stuffmg by sewing a series of stuffing ties across the The cotton batting lining is now covered w ith o ne or two
seat and packing them to form an even shape, as described for layers of wadding or fiberfill, torn to the shape of the seat. This
making a drop- in seat (see page 82). The stuffing should be is then overlaid w ith the top covering fabric, fitted in the sam e
2 inches (50mm) thick, and it should tap er to the edge way as the lining, except that the spare m aterial at the pleated
without overhanging the edge roll. corners is cut away from the inside of the folds to create a
C ut a cotton batting panel 4 inches (lOOmm) larger than the neater appearance for the thicker fabric. In som e cases, the
seat to cover it. Lay the fabric in place and smooth it into an pleats may need to be closed with slip stitches (see page 80) .
even dome shape. T ack it temporarily, working from the
center on all fo ur sides . The edges are not tucked underneath, Finishing the edges
but are cut level with the tacks w hen they are fin ally fas tened. To finish off the tacked edges , use a decorative braid bonded
in place with a fabric adhesive .
Making the
back corners G luing the braid
Fold th e fabn'c over Fold back the end of
at th e comers a11d the braid and tack it
111ake a diago11al wr le11el with the back of
toward the leg. Fold the leg, using two
th e spare maten'al gimp pins. Apply
1111der a11d t11ck th e latex adhesi11e to the
co11en'11g aro1111d the back of the braid and
leg b~fore racking it then press it into
ill(o place. place around th e seat.
Fasten th e other end
with a gimp pin.
Fasten a length of
braid to the back rail
in the same way.

Sewing
Stuffed corners the braid
T here are rw o methods of making corners, depending on Braid can also be
the leg hape . sewn into place using
a small curved needle
1 Forming and fine thread.
rounded corners Make small stitches
For ro1111ded comers, along the top and
make two e11en pleats bottom edges.
011 each side of th e
comer. Tension th e
f abn'c across th e
comer and fas ten it
with a tack;fold the
pleats 11ndemeath.

Using
2 Forming square up holstery nails
corners Nails can be used
To form a square instead of braid.
comer, make a single Alternatively, you
pleat, tacking th e can pin braid in place
spare fabric to th e with chair nails .
front rail. Space the nails to
follow a straight and
e11en line. For close
nailing, ensure that
the heads touch. Tap
any misaligned nail
heads sideways before
drilling them home.
...__ _ _~
CHAIRS AND BENCHES: LEATHER UPHOLSTERY

L JE TJHJEJR 1UIPHOLSTJEJRY
Leather is a high-quality upholstery m aterial that Identifying and treating aniline leather
improves w ith age, provided it is regularly cleaned T o detect w hether old furniture lea ther is aniline, drip a sm all
amo unt of wa ter onto an inconspicuo us part of the upholstety .
and nourished. When used to cover conventional If th e wa ter is quickly absorbed though the smface, the leather
stuffed upholstery, leather is normally fastened to is almost certainly aniline, and it w i!J subsequ ently require a
a chair frame w ith upholstery nails. Alternatively, great deal of care through regular maintenance .
w ide seat and back panels are cut from relatively
Cleaning
thick hide and are then sewn to form cylindrical and finishing
sleeves that are slipped over a tubular- steel frame. R egular wiping with
a soft cloth darnpened
with warm soapy
Maintaining leather water helps keep th e
Most leathers used for upholstery since the 1920s are leather clean. A hide
adequately finished ; being water- resistant, they are relatively food can be used 0 11
easy to maintain . H owever, earlier, aniline-finished leathers a11ilille leather, but
are not water- resistant and stain relati vely easily. on ly exrremely
sparingly. A better
1 Cleaning fi nish fo r aniline
finished leathers leather is pure soft
lVIake up a cleaning beeswax. Do not use
solution from a non- waxes that co11fain
alkaline soap (use a11y silicone.
non-peifumed, pure
hand soap) and
water. Do not use
a detergent, such as
dish-washing liquid,
because this can
lead to long-term Dealing with cracks
deterioration of the C racking occurs when leather loses its na tural oils, through
suiface. Work up a neglect and being stored in an unsympa thetic enviro nment.
lather with a wrung- Although you cannot eliminate or even disguise surface
out soft cloth, taking cracking. regular treatment wi th a leather dressing w i!J at
great care not to soak least recondition the fibers and prevent fu rther dam age.
the leather.
Treati11g
the leather
Apply hidejood
cream once a month
2 Finishing over a six-month
the suiface period, cleaning
Wip e the suiface between applications
with a damp , clean to prevent a buildup
cloth, and allow it on the suiface; or
to dry thoroughly. apply a commercial
Apply thin coats of liquid leather
hide food to finish dressing, fo llowing
and nourish the clean the mamifacturer's
leather, and polish instructions.
with a soft cloth.

91
CHAIRS AND BENCHES: METAL CHAIRS

MET., L-F-GR~JT'C'RE REPAJRS


etal furniture is relatively uncommon and,
M being made from a strong material, the need
for repair is rare. If a n1.etal chair is damaged, it is
usually not so easy to restore as furniture made of
wood. Even so, it is possible to work metal with a
limited range ofbasic workshop tools, and it can be
glued. However, making a repair as good as new
requires the services of a specialist.
C ast-iron repairs
Cast-iron furniture can suffer from btittle fractures . The
su rfaces of the break usually fit back together well and can be
glued. If a decorative, nonstructural piece of metal has broken
off, gluing it back in place is probably sufficient.

2 Starting 1 G luing
the seam the break
Strip the old thread Check th e fit and
jro111 the sea111. l11sert 111ake sure tlwt the
o11e needle about s u~faces ~f the break
three holes i11 jro111 are clean . Usi11g
o11e e11d, and pull the tiny qua11tities of
thread through until superglue, press
it is an even lmgth the pieces back i11
on both sides. position. Til11en
set, I'II/I 111ore glue
3 First stitches sparingly arou11d
Working toward the join, allowi11g
t/1e end, insert both capillary action to
11eedles in the next draw it in. Gel types
hole from each side of of s11pe1glue need
the sean1. JV!ake sure 011fy be applied to
that the right-hand th e suifaces and will
needle passes over the take up any slight
lift-ha11d needle as Uuevenness.
they go through . Pull
the thread tight.
2 Using
epoxy adhesive
4 Stitching If you are using an
the seam epoxy-resin adhesive,
At th e end, work war111 both parts
back along the entire with a hair dryer
seam, 11ow inserting or portable heater.
the needles lift over Cover both suifaces
right through each of the break with au
hole. Pull the stitches even.fi/111 ofglue.
tight as you go. Press together, check
th e fit, a11d re111ove
a11y glu e that 111ight
5 Finishing off squeeze out. Hold
At the other end th e parts together
of the seam, work with adhesive tape
back right over lift or stri11g until set.
for three or four holes
to sewre the thread.
Cut the thread with
a shmp knife.

92
CHAIRS AND BE TAL CHAIRS

3 Using
reinforcing dowels
For a stronger joint,
drill both parts and
insert ronghened
111etal do111els. Pnt
a little paint on the
center of one end to
position and align
the holes. Set the
other part in place
to trmifer the 111ark.
3 Completing the mold
Making missing parts Mix a11d po11r 111ore plaster of paris to cover the re111ai11illg half of tlte
If a broken piece is missing, but the shape is basically two- llloldi11g a11d.fill the_fimne. A/lou' it to dry thorollglily, then dis111antle
dimensional, consider making a replacement, using casting the 111old, lem,i11g tli'O reverse-moldi11g halves if the shape to be cast.
resin. If a similar part exists, perhaps on another piece of Fill all b11t o11e exit hole i11 the moldi11gs "'here the or((!illal casting
furniture, it may be possible to make a mold from it. using exte11ds beyond the /Ito/d. Apply a release agent to the s11tjaces.
a material, such as plaster, rubber ,or fiberglass. Some castings
are molded on one face only, the other being flat. If the casting 4 Making
is molded on both faces, you will need to make a split mold. the casting
Clmnp the 11110
1 Making a halves together 111ith
mold box strong rubber ba11ds .
Lay the contponent Mix casting resin
_{l·o/11 111hich tlte casting accordi11g to the
111ill be taken 011 a mamifactllrer's
board. ,\ lake a specification, a11d
11100den {rm11e that pour it into the 111old.
encloses. t/1e area to Vf7tm set, re111ove
be 111olded, or use _{i-o111 the casting
111odeling clay. Cnt {ro111 the 1110!d a~~d
notches in a 111ooden -clea11 up the edges
Jra111e 111here the parts U'ith a file
~r the co111ponen t
extend 011t of the
sides . Paint the frallle
and seal the notches
111ith 111odeling day.

5 Fitting
2 Making the casting
the mold Prepare the joi11i11g
Coat the s111faces, suifaces between
including the the old a11d 11ew
cotnponent, with a 11taterials by wtting
release agent, snch a!ld filing thern both
as petrolell/11 jelly . flat. Bond the new
Fill the {l·m11ed area molding in place
ha{(i1'a); 111ith plaster with epoxy resin.
~f paris . •\Jake t111o A 111etal dowel
holes in the miface ca11 be i11d11ded to
tofonll registration stre11gthen the joillt.
points in the 111old
and, ui/te/1 dry, coat
the s11tjace ll'ith
petro/eu/11 jelly.

93
CHAIRS AND BENCHES: METAL CHAIRS

Repairing load-bearing parts Usi ng /t eat


It is possible to weld cast iro n, but this is a j ob for a If the fastener resists
professional. It might be possible to brace a component the lubrication
with a flat back by bolting on a steel splint, but this must treatment, try heating
be done carefully to avoid an ugly result. th e 1111ts with a blow
torch. A llow to cool
1 Using and apply more
steel p late penetrating oil.
Mark the shape of
the component 011 the
plate and cut out th e
profile using a drill,
hacksaw, and fi les .
Enst.tre the spli11t
spans th e break to
gi11e goo d support
on each side. D eal ing w ith
worn nuts
If th e fia ts of the nut
lwve become rounded,
use an adjustable
wrench to grip the
1111t or refile the fiats .

c====!( 11P--------'J
2 Securing tlte plate
G '6J ,J
Clamp the brace in place and drill bolt holes through th e sound
sectio11s of the casting and reinfo rcement. Ideally, cut threads in the
bracing and use countersunk bolts fo r a neat fi nish. Othenvise, drill
plain holes and use through bolts secured with nuts. Thoroughly pain t
the metal to protect and disguise the repair.

Dismantling bolted joints


C ast-iron furniture is us ually made in components h eld
together with bolts. It is easier to repair bolted components an appropriate-size
if you first dismantle the furn iture. hole in the bolt as
accurately centered
D ealing w itlt as possible. Insert
corroded threads the extracto r screw
Wh ere threads have and turn it counter-
corroded, it is best to clockwise with
apply penetrating oil a wrench.
bifore you atternpt to
free them. Allow the
oil to soak in for at
least 10 minutes.

D rilling a
broken bolt
A ltern atively, drill
down th e center of
the stump, then pick
out th e remains of -.· ··
the bolt fro m the
threaded hole.
..__ _ _ _ _ _ __,C,HAIR
'-"- SAND BENCHES: METAL CHAIR
~g.S _ _ __

Tubular-steel repairs Wrought iron


Steel is tougher than cast iron and will usually T his is very tough and m alleable, and it m ust be wo rked w ith
hand tools. lt should be possible to straighte n w rought iro n
bend considerably before breaking; it m ay even be witho ut risk of breaking. If a com ponent should fail, repair it
possible to bend it back into line. H owever, years of by welding, brazing, or ri ve ti ng.
repeated bending and straigh tening will inevitably W rought iron is no t readily available, but mild steel is a
reasonable substitute fo r replacement parts; indeed, m uch of
cause steel to crack. w hat is called w ro ught iron today is, in fac t, mild steel.
Dealing with distortion
M etal tubing that is overstressed w ill distort. T o correct the
problem, it is necessary to suppo rt the frame securely in order
to bend only that part that needs straightening.

Clamping
the fram e
A ssuming the leg cif
a chair is bent out of
line, brace the fra me
with a notched length
of wood and sash
clamps placed at the
point of the bend.
Use a f ast-action
clamp set in reverse,
or possibly a car jack,
to apply a controlled
fo rce to straighten the
tube. It will probably
he necessary to over-
straighten the part to
allow for spring in
the tube.

Mending cracks T hin -section wrought iron is used to make elegant garden seating
Cracks in steel tubing can be repaired by welding, but it takes
skill to avoid burning throu gh . Also, the h eat w ill probably Repairing a riv eted joint
soften the m etal and certainly dam age the finish. Brazing will J oints betwee n w ro ught-iron compo nents are often made
not burn holes but, as it takes lo nger, it heats the m etal m ore. using rive ts, w hich , when wo rrt, will weaken the fram e.

R eplacing rivets
D rill out or cut old
rivets, and replace
them with new soft-
1 Bracing the repair iron ones. Support
lf the break is in a straigh t section, it may he possible to insert a piece the work on an anvil
of smaller diameter tube to jig the repair. This reduces the risk of or heavy metal plate
burning through, it strengthens the joint to compensate for softening cif and, using a hall-
the metal, and it makes it unnecessary to weld all round. The j oint peen hammer, forge
could also he secured with epoxy-resin adhesive. the end of the rivet
to fill a countersunk
hole drilled in the
metal. Alternatively,
form the rivet into a
rounded head.

2 Cutting the tube


Cut the inner tube about 3 inches (75mm) long, and round over the
ends with a hammer. lf the diameter is difficult to match, cut a slit in
a slightly larger diameter piece that will squeeze down to fit .

95
TABLE§
A TABLE IN ITS BASIC FORM IS SIMPLY A FLAT
top supp orted on a base or legs at the
appropriate height for its purpose. From this
principle a w hole range of types and shapes
have been p roduced, such as dining tables in
all their variants, side tables, console tables,
sofa tables, writing tables, card tables, and tea
tables. Some include ingenious m ethods for
extending the surface, and their tops and bases
can be m ade in various shapes, providing us
w ith a rich design choice.
Most tables are m ade from solid woo d, but
some, particularly the smaller types, are oft en
veneered and inlaid w ith decorative motifs,
w hich require different restoration techniqu es.
TABLES: CONSTRUC TION

T JBL E CON 1rlRUC1rliON


raditional tables are primarily functional pieces In order to sit at a dining table, there must be
T of furniture. Some are quite plain, w hile others
are fitted with simple or elaborate folding fram es
sufficient clearance for yo ur knees. T his tends to
res trict the w idth of the rails, and, therefore , the
and tops. T ypical designs include fram e, draw-leaf, span of the fram e. T o overcom e the problem , extra
drop-leaf, and pedestal tables. legs are used to supp ort the rails oflong tables .
In order to accommo date a drawer, tw o end rails
Frame tables are set horizontally into the fram e to provide an
The m aj ority of fram e tables are base d on a simple opening w hile tying the legs together. The upp er
jointed fram e w ith legs placed at each corner. The rail is usually dove tailed into the top of the leg, and
m ethod of construction-usin g m ortise- and-teno n the lower rail is stub-teno ned into the inside face.
or dowel joints- ensures a rigid fram e, provided the A central cross rail stiffens the fram e.
sections are not too thin. Lightweight tables, such as decorative side tables
The rails of a table ac t as beams to supp ort the and tea tables, are m ade from thinner sections, often
load. They need to be as deep or w ide as possible to simply j ointed and screwed together. In the case of
resist bending, so rails are generally w ider than they bambo o pieces, the butt-j ointed fram e is held by
are thick and are set vertically on edge. nothing more than glue and long thin nails.
FRAME TABLE Central rail
Longerfram es sometim es Design variations
include a central cross rail Typical designs for
stub -tenoned into the sides . small frame tables
1 Victorian bamboo
Top
side table
Solid-pin e boards,
2 Edwardian
IISually butt-jointed
mahogan y tea table
or tongued-and -
3 1930s oak side
grooved. Some tops
table with t11rned legs
may have the edge
thickened by strips
screwed to tl1e
11nderside. Joints can
f ail, and boards 111ay
warp or split.

Drawer guides
Screu;ed to side rails
or drawer mnners,
th ese keep the drawer
mnning stra(ght.
W ear can ca11se the Side and
dra wer to misalign end rails
and jm11. Softwood ra iIs are
tenoned or doweled
Drawer runners into th e legs and
Th ese are screwed to s11pport a top
side rails and s11pport Tumed legs fastene d by pocketed
the drawer sides, Solid-pine t11rned legs screws, metal plates,
which slide on th e111 . have a sq11are top or wooden "butto ns"
The suiface is prone section mortised to (see page 109).
to wear, partiwlarl y receive rails. Dowel
if made of softwood. pegs may be 11sed to
Drawer reinforce the joint.
(not shown) T1 1r11ed bead details
Umally constructed at lower levels can be
with rabbeted dmuaged by chairs .
dovetail joint at the
front (see page 14 1).
TABLES: CONSTRUCTION

Extending tables
Dining is an important activity in fa mily life, and on these tables rarely needs repair, but the working
occasions can require a large table. When room is elements of the top can wear.
res tricted, it is useful to have a sm aller table that can Anoth er extending design , popular in Victorian
extend . Draw-leaf extending tables, developed in times , uses a system of sliding fram es that telescope
the sixteenth century, proved an enduring type that togeth er. The two complete halves of the table,
becam e particularly popular in the 1930s. M any w hen pulled apart, allow separate top panels to be
designs were inspired by oak trestle or framed dropped in across the fram e. Short integral pegs fit
refectory tables, w hich featured turned legs and into holes in the m eeting edge, and the w hole top
low stretcher rails. is clamp ed together w ith m etal fittings. Larger
Basically a simple sliding system based on a stable tables have a central pair of legs to supp ort the
four-leg or trestle fram e, a typical draw-leaf table extended fram e, and som e have a screw m echanism
comprises a single top that can rise and fall slightly for extending the table. Wear can occur on the
to allow a pull- out "leaf " to extend from each end sliding system , and the w heeled casters fitted to
as required. The sturdy framed co nstru ction of the legs can fa il.
DRAW-LEAF TABLE ~---- Tabletop
Fram e-attd-panel
Cross mil'-,----,-----,---,------:----~ CO t1StrllctiOII, IISillg
Screwed and glu ed to th e side mortise-and-tenon joints
rails, this is slotted or drilled to or dowel joints. The
receiiJe a wooden block or metal center panels on 1930s
pegs fas tened to th e underside of tables are often IJeneered
th e top, which hold th e top in plywood. Felt strips gl11ed
place while allowing it to rise and to the underside of th e top
fall. Missing or damaged parts protect the draw leaf
cause th e top to be a poor fit.

Guide blocks

Stop blocks
Girted to th e
underside of the
bearers, th ese
stop tl1e leaffrom
extending too far. L egs
T11rned legs in
IJarious styles,
usually sq11are in
section at the foot,
receiiJe stretcher rails.

Stretcher m.ils
Used to tie rhe legs together,
these may be set diagonally,
as shown, or parallel to th e
sides and ends.

D esign variations
D raw leaves B earers Th e two haliJes of
Constntcted in the same way as H ardwood bearers glued and a sliding-frame
the top, each has sliding bearers screwed to each leaf slide in extending table are
fitted to th e underside. Rub notches wt in th e end rails . Set fitted with hardwood
marks on the suiface indicate at an angle, they ca11se the leaf to sliding rails to allo111
missingfelt strips. T he finish is rise leiJel with th e top. W ear can drop -itl panels to be
usually rich in color, 11nlike th e ca11se the leaiJes to drop o11t of fitted u;hen th e frame
exposed, faded top . line, and wmping creates friction . is extended.
TABLES: CONSTRUCTION

Drop-leaf tables
Tables with hinged flaps have a long history; the the ends and sides respectively. The flap s are held
ga teleg table is the most common. M ost designs open by cantilevered wooden brackets attached by
have a similar frame configuration, w ith a central knuckle-j oint hinges cut in the wood. Small card or
four-leg main frame from which leg fram es, or tea tables som etimes use folding fram es or a single
"gates," are pivoted to support the flaps. T ops are leg j oined to a hinged rail to form another gateleg
usually oval or round, incorp orating a fl ap that folds design, the latter style also being used for dining
down on each side of the m ain fram e. Solid-oak, tables . The legs are turned, square-tapered, cabriole,
m ass-produced ga teleg tabl es were popular in the or saber- shape, and m ost are fitted with casters.
1930s, and they usually featured barley- tw ist legs . D rop-leaf tables usually feature a rule j oint
Pembroke tables and sofa tables also feature drop- w here the flaps meet the fixed tabletop , forming an
leaf tops. These are usually rectangular, with the attractive edge detail that m asks the hinges. T ypical
flaps on the long sides of the Pembroke table, and problem.;; include warp ed tops, loose gates, split
at the ends of the sofa type. Drawers are fitted at table legs, and binding rule joints .
G ATE - LEG B ack-flap hinges
TABLE .Wade 111ith o11e leaf
lo11ger tl1a11 th e other,
Fixed tabletop back fl ap hi11ges are
!viadefro m solid wood, used to_fit drop -leaf
usually oak, aud fas telled tops that fe ature a
to thef rame 111ith pocketed mle joi11 t. Poor-
screws or woode11 "burto11s." _fittillg or loose hi11ges
Th e top will ,p/it if 11ot ca11 give problems.
allo1/led to "move."
'-+-'f--f-- Stop block
E nd rails Sere!/led to th e 1111derside cif each
Plain or shaped rails, drop lea_{, this stops th e "gate" i11
tenoned i11to the legs . rhe open positio11.
vVh w a dralller is fitted,
drau,er rails are used (lee ~"--Hirl-d----}1~- Side rails
page 98). A s th ere was 110 Thick rails telloned, a11 d usuall y
top drm11er rail 011 early pegged, i11ro th e legs. A hole
tables, the top pa11ell/las d1illed i11 tl1e lol /ler edge receives
used to Tie t/1e legs togeth er. th e gatepost top pivot.
D rop L eaf L ....-.-'"""'"1-'+-41..r-- Stretcher ra ils
The solid-l/IOod pa11el is Us ually square i11 seaio11, th ese
relatively rhi11 a11d ojte11 tie tl1e legs togeth er at th e foot,
warps. A rule joi11t l1elps usi11g 1/lortise-alld-tenoll joi11ts.
support th e edge cif th e flap L ap joint Holes drilled i11 th e side rails
i11 the raised posirio11 , a11d Th e top a11d foo t cif the gate receive th e lower pivot pi11s
form s a11 attractive f eature legs a11d th e side stretcher of th e gatepost.
whe11 the flap is lo u,ered. rails are wt au,ay to allol/1 G ate fram e
th e gate to close flat agai11st A pivoted fra me made up f rom a
th e nwi11 f rame. turned gatepost a11d leg joi11ed by
11/0rtise-alld-twolled rails.

D esign variations
Th e flap s of Pen1broke a11d scifa
tables are supported 011 knuckle-
joillted brackets that swing out
fro m th e side or e11d rails.
1 Pembroke table
2 Scifa table 0
100
TABLES: CONSTRUCTION

Pedestal tables
These tables feature a central turned column screwed to the underside, which help to keep the
supported on three curvaceous splayed legs, which top flat and hold it on the mounting-block pivots.
are joined to the column with dovetail dadoes. The splayed-leg pedestal base is also used for
P edestal tables usually have round tops that are larger tables. Rectangular dining tables som.etimes
either fixed in place or n1ade to tilt into the vertical use two or three pedestal bases to support the top,
position when not in use . Some small tea tables which can be extended w ith drop-in panels held
were also made to revolve. Tables made w ith fixed with metal fittings.
tops have a simple block mounting, either fitted to Heavy-looking round dining tables with solid
the column w ith a mortise-and-tenon joint or or veneered tops mounted on pedestal bases were
screwed together with a coarse wooden thread . fashionable in the Victorian era. Their columns are
The revolving and tilting top incorporates a made from glued staves, forming faceted or round
wooden "cage," or gallery, held in place by a hollow pillars, mounted on three- or four-cornered
wedge passed through the column. The typical platform bases that are veneered to match. Casters
tilting tabletop is fitted with two parallel bearers are usually fi tted to the bases.
PEDESTAL TABLE Tabletop
Cut fro rn siugle or jointed boards,
Catch depending on size, tops can be
A brass spring catch solid or veneered. Veneered
holds the top down. surfaces are prone to da111age. Th e
fi nish 011 wine tables is sorneti111es
Pivot 111arred by alcohol stains.
Turn ed wooden
pivots hold the top Bearers
to the 11101111ting Hardwood bearers screwed to th e
block. Wear will underside are drilled to hold tl1e
cause th e top to tilting top on the mounting-block
becou1e loose. So111 e pivots. Screws often work loose,
dir1iug tables have and th e piFot holes wear.
brass bolts screwed
into th e block. D esign variations
1 Shaker stand
Mounting block 2 R egency-style
A square block extending table
f astened to th e 3 Victorian pedestal
cohunn with a dining table
l/ledged 11/ortise-and-
tenon joint, which
can work loose. Some
non-tilting tables use
a round 11/ounting
block, eitl1er joined Turned column - - - - - ----J'IIIIII
in a sin1ilar way or A solid-wood,
held by a coarse decoratively turned
1.vooden thread. pillar dadoed at th e
base to receive three
legs . Th e base can
split around the
doFetail j oi11ts.

Legs fJ
Cabriole, or se1pentine-shaped,
legs dovetailed into th e colull/11. Metal plate
Th e j oints rnay f ail, and 111eak Set into th e base to
short grain can break . rei1 ![orce leg joints.

101
TABLES: DISMANTLING

DrrsM JTLKKG TABLE§


rame-constructed tables that use mortise- and-
F tenon or dowel joints can be dism antled in
a similar way to chair frames, using steam or
denatured alcohol to break dow n the glue (see
page 54). The top is first removed to expose the
frame (see page 109). Draw-leaf and drop-leaf tables
are basically frame tables, and they can be taken
apart in more or less the same way.

D raw-leaf tables
Draw-leaf tables are dis111antled
i11 a si111ilar way to the basic
frallle table, but after re111ovi11g
tl1e cross rail that is screwed to
the top edges of th e side rails.

Basic frame tables


With the frame inverted and
clamped on the workbench, or
standing 011 the floor and clamped
to the bench, depending on its
size, knock the joints apart. Use
a ham111er a11d woode11 block or
rubber han1111er, worki11g i11 rite
order show11. DI'Dp-leaf tables
D ismantle th e 111ain frall1e in a similar wa y to th e basicfra/1/e table,
Frame fitted but worki11g on the rails and stretchers togeth er. Once th e side rails
with drawers and stretchers are freed from the legs, tl1e ''gate" frarnes can be
When drawers are re111oved for dismantling, if req uired.
fitted, it is first
necessary to re111o ve R eleasing
the top drawer rail pegged tenons
that is dovetailed into Cateleg tables are
the top of the frame . often constru cted using
The joints can then mortise-and-tenon
be dismantled as joi11ts that have been
above. Ch eck tl1e rei1iforced with dowels
order of asse111bly, or pegs . Drill out
beca use you 111ay the pegs bifore you
have to remove attempt to dismantle
drawer runn ers and tf1e joints.
guides biforehand.

l02
TABLES : DISMANTLING

Pedestal tables Dismantling a


The method of construction of pedestal tables requires a mounting block
different approach to dismantling, depending on the size and Support the
design of the assembly. 1110u11ting block of a
s/1/al/ table on an
ope11 bench vise, and
drive out th e tenon
~llith a wooden block
and ha111mer. On
pedestal dining
tables, release th e
rerai11i11g bolt securi11g
the top block.

Small pedestal table top


Unscrew and remove one bearerfrolll th e underside q a snwll table to
free th e top fronl th e mounti11g block pivots.
Unscrewing the
reinforcing plate
!11 order ro dis111antle
a tripod base, fi rst
re111ove the 111etal
plate that ties the
three legs to the
central column. If
the screws are rusty,
make sure the screw-
driver is a snug fit in
the slots bifore you
attempt to turn them .

Dining-table top
For a lmge top on a pedestal base, tilt rhe top and support th e edge,
then unscrew the brass thu111b screws a11d lift off th e top.

Removing
a tripod leg
If a loose dovetail-
joined leg cannot be
wiggled f ree, tap it
out. Shape a saddle
block to fo llo w the
w rved leg, and cla111p
it i11 place to protecr
th e leg and provide
a striki11g suiface.

A dining-table top is fitted to th e block with tillllllb screws a11d a catch

103
TABLES : MENDING JOINTS

MEl\DI:\G J 0 I~T~
ost large tables are made from substantial then1selves can also split. If a table frame tw ists
M sections of wood and proportionately large
joints. However, legs that are not tied by stretcher
w hen leaned against, the j oints are probably weak.
Mortise-and- tenon joints, commonly used for a
rails can exert considerable leverage on the joints wide range of frame tables, ca n be reglued or
when dragged across the floor. In time, this can repaired in a sin'lilar way to chair joints (see pages
cause the join ts to fa il or break , and the legs 55- 56). Other joints require specific repairs.
Bamboo tables Pedestal tables
The nailed-and-glued butt joints of bamboo tables are The co mponents of tilt-top pedestal tables are put under more
relatively wea k . If the natural shiny surface ofbamboo is not stress than those of conventio nal framed types, with the result
abraded locally to provide a rough SULfa ce for the glue , the that these tables often have wobbly rops and legs. Tea and
bond will not be so strong. Because bamboo is hollow, the wine tables of this type are relati vely light in constru ctio n,
ends are plugged with softwood to receive nail fastenings . If w ith the top held by two bea rers screwed to the underside.
a j oint has been allowed to "wo rk," the nail ca n lose its grip. Beca use the tops are so thin, the screws are comparatively
short and prone to strip. In addition, shrinkage in the wood
R egluing a j oint can ca use the legs and top block to wo rk loose.
Pry tl1e joi11t ope11
sl![ficielltly to clean Tightening
the suifaces with loose bearers
JJJater. Pull out the First rry Jirri11g a
old uail if it has 1(/j;ger-ga uge screw of
worked loose. lf tl1e correcr lengrh i11
uecessary, abrade rhe JJJom hole. lf this
th e side face of the fa ils, plug rhe screu1
ba111boo 111ith a fi11e hole lJJith 11/(/fchillg
file in th e vicinity of lJJood a11d rifit th e
th e joiut. Apply glu e original screw. Drill a
a11d reuail th e joint. pilot lwle in the plug
to 51-1it the screw size
R eplugging cane (see page 52).
R enwve th e
C0111p011e11t, a11d drill Secttring a loose
or chisel out the old mounting block
1110m plug. Tum or lf th e 111011nting block
ui/Jittle a sojtJJJood is loose, check th e
plug to fit into th e 1/IOrfise-aII d-tC/1 0/1
end of th e cane, joi11 t. lf it is o11ly
a11d glue it i11 place. sl(ghtly slack a11d IFill
Shape th e end to 1101 pull free, drill OI IC
111atch th e colltOllr or two s111all holes
of th e joiut shoulder, dow11 th e sides of th e
usiug a ha!f-round te11on and inject glue
file orfret saw. Glue into the joint.
and uail th e joi11t.
Wedging
Mending braces the tenon
Slllall-section ba111boo lf possible, k11ock th e
braces set diago11ally joi11t apart a11d wt
across th e comers out th e origi11al
are usually 11ai/ed lJJedge. lf th e joint
through th eir sides has bee11 asse111bled
close to the e11ds. without a wedge,
Splits ciften ocwr 111ake a saw wt i11
wl1ere the naillwle tl1e te11011 to receive
has weakened th e one wt fran/
ca11e. Pull out th e 1/(/rdwood. Glue
uail a11d glu e rl1e a11d asse111ble the
split. Drill a tig/11- CO IIIjJOIIelltS, a11d
jittillg clearance hole drive i11 the wedge
for a uew 11ail, a11d to sewre the joint.
reasse111ble the joi11t.

104
TABLES: MENDING JOINTS

Tightening a Repairing mechanical joints


bolted block There are very few types of table that do not have
Lmge dining tables
111ith hollow pedestals moving parts or mechanical joints that allow the
lw1;e th e block bolted top to fold , slide, or pivot. The majority of these
through to the base components are made from wood, so, if the table
with a threaded rod. has seen long service, they are bound to be a little
Tighten the nut
fo und undemeath slack or misaligned as a result of wear.
th e base to clamp
the block on to th e R epa iring a
coh111111. Th ese are bindi ng rule joint
riften hand11wde The special back-flap hinges
square nuts that can cause most of the problems
o11ly be tigh te11ed associated with rule joints.
fully by tapping 111ith It is essential that the hinge
a cold chisel. knu ckle is position ed directly
below the square shoulder of
R tfitting a the joint if it is to fun ction
loose tripod leg smoothly. A poorly fitted
Tl1 e do11erail dadoes hinge can thro w the flap out
that join the legs to of alignment, causing the rule
th e col11111n often joint to stick or bind as yo u
111ork loose due to attempt to mo ve it. Before
shriukage. R e111ove yo u do anything else, try
the leg, and clean lubricating the joint with
a11d inspect th e joint. white candle wax. R11le joint between top and flap
if tl1e wood is sound,
glu e a thi11 strip cif Recessing
ve11eer to o11e or both the hinges
faces of the douetail if th e ru le joint binds
and trim it to fit when the flap is
th e dado. R eglue almost horizontal,
wl1en it is a snug check that the hinges
fit (see below) . are in good condition
and screwed firmly
Repairing split pedestals in th eir recesses . if
The tripod frames of delicate wine and tea tables are usually necessary, pare th e
fitted with metal plates to prevent the legs from splaying recesses slightly to
outward. However, when the reinforcing plate has been 111ake sure the hinge
omitted or lost, it is not uncommon to find tables with splits flaps are peifectly
near the base of the central column. It is best to do something flush with th e under-
about a split of this nature before a leg breaks off completely. side of tl1e tabletop.

Gluing the split Pack ing out


Flex th e legs gently the hinges
to work so111e glue if the joint binds just
i11 to th e split, th en before the flap hangs
apply a toumiquet vertically, th e hi11ge
of string to th e legs. flaps 111ay be recessed
C11t shaped plywood roo deeply. In this
blocks that hook over case, slip so111e thi11
th e toe of each table pieces of cardboard
leg. Li11e the blocks behind th e hi11ges .
wit/1 thickfelt to
protect the fi nish .

105
TABLES: MENDING GATES

Repairing loose gates 2 R enewing


Because they are made the p ivots
enrirely of wood, there is Pla11e the mds of the
bound to be a degree of slack gatepost sq uare, a11d
in the pivo ting joints of an drill a hole in each
old table ga te, but excessively end for challifered
worn or even broken pivo ts dowels. Glue them
should be repaired before an i11 place.
accident occurs.
The shorter gatepost has an
integral pivo t pin at each end.
The bottom pin inva riably
pivots in a hole drilled in the
stretcher rail. The upper pin
fits into a hole in one of th e
deep side rails that support
the tabl etop. Some tables are
designed so that the gate can
be attac hed after assembly;
the top pivot is held in place
by a block of wood screwed 3 M aking a
to the side of the table rail. tap ered block
This rype can be removed for Make a tapered block
repair by simply unscrewing of wood, drilled with
the bl ock. a new pivot hole.
In other cases, the gate is A lign the new and
located as the main table old pivot holes, then
frame is assembled; unless yo u draw around the
saw through both pivo ts (see block to mark a
below), the table fi·ame has to notch on the side
be dismantled before the gate of the table rail.
ca n be removed .

Captive gate
1 R eleasing 4 Fitting the g ate
the gate Cut the notch in the
Saw through both rail, insert the tapered
pivots, th en slide block, and fasten it
the gate sideways with screws . Un screw
to remove it. the block and slip it
over th e new dowel
0 11 top of the gatepost.
D rop th e bottom
dowel into the hole
i11 the stretcher rail,
slide the gatepost
sideways, and screw
the block to the
table rail.

JI.06
TABLES: MENDING PIVOTS

Mending a split gateleg Remaking pivots for a pedestal table


The lap joint cut into a folding gate allows it ro lie flush T o correct a wobbly pedestal- table top , first make
with the table frame. Unfortunately, the joint is also a weak
point that can promote a split if the gate is dragged clumsily sure that the mounting block is fastened securely to
across the floor. the column and that the bearers are screwed firmly
to the underside of the tabletop (see page 104).
Gluing a split
Carifu lly flex the
N ext, inspect the pivots for signs of wear.
leg until you can Pivots for a dining table
brush glu e into th e Withdraw the metal pivot bolts , wi th the dining-table rop
split, then apply tilted and held steady, then lift off the top.
a C clamp and
protective softwood Servicing
blocks until th e the pivots
adhesive sets . Tighten the screttJs
that secure the sntall
threaded "nuts " to
th e block, and lightly
oil the shaft of each
bolt. if any of tlze
parts are extremely
worn or missing,
order replacement
Repairing a slack JOint pivots from a
A Pembroke- table flap is supp orted on a hinged bracket that specialized supplier.
is cantilevered from a wooden knuckle joint. If this joint
becomes slack, it allows th e table flap ro droop. One solutio n Pivots for a small table
is ro replace the pivo t pin in the knuckle-joint with one of a Worn pivot pins on smaller pedestal tables can be lined with
slightly larger diameter. brass tubing, provided the holes in the bearers have not
become oval. If this is the case, replace the bearers.
1 Removing the
pivot pin
R emove both halves
of the knuckle joint
and clamp them to a
board, 111aking sure
the two halves are
aligned peifectly.
Stm1d the board on
edge so that you can
drive out th e pin,
usir1g stiff metal rod.

1 R eshaping worn pivots


Select brass tube that fits snugly in th e holes in th e bearers, and fi le
the wom pil zs until they fit the bore of the tubing. Fo r a peifect fir,
111ake a hollow drillfro rn a length of the sa111e tubing (see page 52),
2 Inserting a11d use that to fina lly reshape the wooden pins.
a new pin
Bore out th e hole lift 2 Lining
by the pin, using a the pivots
bit approximately Cut and file the tube
Y,. inch (lmm) linings to length.
lmger. Choose a drill Smear the reshaped
bit that matches the pivots with epoxy-
diam eter of a steel resin glue and slide
or brass rod, from on the linings,
which you can make wiping off suzplus
a replacement pivot adhesive with
pin. Drive in the denatu red alcohol.
new pin, and file
each end flush.

107
T ABLES : MENDING DRAW-LEAF TABLES

R enovating draw-leaf tables Replacing stop blocks


Mos t of the problem s associated w ith draw-leaf W hen stop blocks are missing, th ere is nothing to prevent a
lea f being w ithdrawn too fa r. It is no t a great inconve nience,
tables are related to the conditi on of th e bearers that but because it is so simple to recti fY, replace m ents m ay be
are screwed to the underside of each leaf. fitted w hile the table is in the wo rkshop .

Easing a sticking leaf 1 P ositioning


Rub the bearers w ith candle wax to ensure they run smoothly. the blocks
If tha t does not solve the problem , ins pect the guide blocks Witildrall' the leaf
and ma ke sure the bearers them selves are straight. until it is in tile
required position in
Sew ring g uide relation to the fixed
block s top, and then ·,nark
Tighten th e screli'S the bearers ll'here
that hold the bearer they pass thro ugh
g11ide blocks in place, the table rail.
arid 111ake sure th e
blocks are parallel
to one another.

2 Gluing blocks
to the bea rers
La y th e leaf aside on
the II'Orkbench, and
gl11e blocks at the
111arked lines 011
BOWED the underside of
each bearer.

Warp ed bearers
Witl1drmv the sticking leaf colllpletely,
and exa111 i11e th e bearers to see Dealing with a scratched leaf
if they are bowed or twisted. When a leaf is marred w ith parallel scratches, it is best to
R eplace m spect bearers examine th e underside of the main tabletop carefully before
(see below) . yo u go to the trouble of refinishing. '
A strip of feldike baize is no rmally glued to the underside
of the top at each end to protect th e sur£1ce of the leaf as it is
Curing a drooping leaf withdrawn . In all probability, the protective strip has peeled
If a leaf is drooping, try tightening the screws that hold the off, allow ing the polish to become scored as the leaf was
bearers to th e underside . If there is no improvem ent, the mo ved in and out.
bearers may be wo rn or bowed and need replacing.
R eplacing the
p rotective strip
Tu m th e top upside
dolllll , and rake out
the gaps benlleen
panels to re111ove any
deb ris that could be
scra tching the fi nish.
A1ake sure th ere are
110 fi nishing nails or
other nails e111bedded
in th e wood, ti1 e11
Making new bearers use a sharp chisel to
Choose a straigiu-gmi11 piece of II'Ood, and plane it to size to nwtc/1 scrape old adhesive
the existing bearers . R e11101'e o11e bearer in good condition , and cla111p }i'0111 th e top bifore
it to th e side of the prepared ll'ood so that you can mark th e required gllling a new strip
slope 011 one md. Shape rhe 11e11' bearer, and screw it to the leaf if baize at each end.

108
TABLES: TABLETOPS

T ABLETOP§
ntil the introduction of ve neer, all tabletops to make repairs if the two are first separated. T his is
U were m ade from solid boards. Small tables
could be cut from a single w ide board, but larger
not a problem , because m ost tops are attached from
beneath w ith screws . Furniture m akers have long
tops were made by gluing a number of boards recognized that solid wood will move with changes
to ge ther. Wide boards are prone to wa rping and, in humidity, and this is particularly apparent on
because wood expands and co ntracts, splits can w ide panels such as tabletops. Boards expand and
occur if movem ent is res tricted. Veneered tops are contract m ore across their w idth than in their
not as robust as th ose m ade from solid boards-the length ; this presents a problem w hen the frame
thin surface layer of w ood that is bonded to a solid rails, w hich do not appreciably change in length,
core is prone to dam age . are fas tened across the w idth of a tabletop. Various
m eth ods of attac hment have been used to overcome
How tops are attached the risk of splitting; examples are show n below . If a
T ables are basically m ade as two distinct elem ents, top has split, check the fastenings, and, if necessary,
the fram e or base, and the top . It is usually easier m odify them to allow for m ovement.

Pocket screws Button fastening


A11gled pockets, A rradirio11al 111ethod
drilled or chiseled 11 ri lizes llloo de11
i11 to the i11side faces "b utto11s" to hold th e
of th e rails, are top i11 place ll'hile
CO II/1 1101Ify //Sed allowi11g it to IIIOve.
as a11 i11expe11sive Th e ro11gue fits i11to
fas tellillg. The a groove wt 011 the
SCrfl /1 l1ole 111ay be i11side of the rail.
oversized to allo111 R emake missi11g
for lllOVe/1/ e/1 t, or, buttons to match .
better still, slotted. Note that the side-
rail butto11s are 11ot
butted agai11st the
rail to allow for
11/0Velllellt.

Counterbored Shrinkage plates


screws Today, it is usual to
Co uu terbored /10/es .fit 111etal shrinkage
are soll/eti11 1es drilled plates . Flat plates are
i11to the edges r.if let i11to the top edge
rails, allo111i11g r.if th e rails, or a11gled
relatively short scre111S plates are screwed to
to fasten the top . th e i11side. To allou1
U11/ess the shank rhe top to move, tl1 e
cleara11ce hole is plates are slotted i11
slightly oversized, two directio11s; i11sert
th e 1/I OVelllellt of a scre111S i11to whichever
solid-wood top is slot rllllS at right
restricted. C utti11g a11gles to the grai11.
the hole ro form a
tapered slot will help .

1D9
TABLES: MENDING TOPS

Split tabletops Tongue- and- groove joint


Splits occur along the grain of the wood or, if the Some joints are reinfo rced with a strip of w ood or " tongue,"
fitted into stopped grooves cur in the edges . For stre ngth, the
top is made from glued boards, along the j oints. tongue is cut from plywood or solid wood, w ith the grain
Splits follO\\·ing the grain tend to m eander and taper running across its w idth.
from the edge, making them awkwa rd to repair
without a fair amount of preparati on (see page 137). Regluing the joint
Jj t/1e glne has fa iled,
Simply gluing and clamping the split closed will pull th e join t apart.
probably stress the wood, w hich could then split You 111ay need to
in a similar way at another point. Unless they are dantpw rhe joim
111ith tl'ater or stea111
particularly unsightly, these fa ults co uld be accepted ro reti!OtJe rhe tongue
a part of the table's charac ter. H owever, failed enrirely (see page
joints form a straight break that can be readily 54). Clean the
joiningfaces a11d
repaired. The method will depend on how the apply glne wit/1 a
boards are j oined. bwsh, then asse111ble
and cla111p tl1e parts
Butt-jointed top (see opposite) .
T he boa rds of most old tables were simply planed straight and
square, then glued together. If the glue has failed, dismantle
th e top and carefully scrape or wash the joint clean. Check the
fi t, and glue and clamp the boards together (see right).
Doweled joints
1 Truing the joint Short dowels, placed at regular intervals, are ano ther m ethod
if the joi11ting edges often used to strengthen edge- to- edge joints.
do not mate properly,
skim th em with a Positioning
plane. Set th e two the dowels
halves back-to -hack To determine the
in a vies, with the exact positions cif
edges flu sh. Using all the reinforcing
a long, fin ely set dowels, pass the
plane, trim the edges blade cif a table
straight. A very knife along th e gap
slight hollow or between th e boards .
concave edge is
acceptable, but 1101
a convex one.

2 Using a guide fence


To help keep the joints square, you can Repairing a
make a simple wooden guide fence from doweled joint
hardwood and attach it to the body of if th e dowels re111ain
the plane with a small cla111p . glu ed, break down
the bond (see page
54). Cleau up the
glning s111jaces and
reghte the boards .
Otherwise, cut the
dowels with a fine
sa~v through the gap
between th e boards,
redrill th e edge, and
_fit 11ew dowels.

110
TABLES : MENDING TOPS

Gluing boards
Most joints in old furniture are held together with although no t fully reversible, is a strong, ready-to-
w ater-soluble animal glue. Because it allows j oints use glue. W hichever glue you decide to use, always
to be dism antled in the future, som e furniture apply it to both jointing faces to ens ure even
repairers still prefer to use this traditional glu e, distribution and penetrati on. H ot-setting animal
although it needs to be prepared before use and glu e is traditionally spread with a brush , but modern
applied hot. White (PVA) woodw orking glue is cold-setting adhesives can also be spread along
now used for all kinds of furniture making and, edge- to- edge joints, using a rubb er roller.
Clamping boards 3 Checking
Befo re applying glu e, asse mble and lightly clamp the parts to for distortion
ensure the joints fi t well . T o make the process as efficient as Wipe su1plus glue
possible, always prepare the gluing area in advance , keeping jro111 the suiface with
clamps, wooden blocks to protect the workpiece, glu e and a dm np cloth. Check
applicator, wiping cloth, and m etal straightedge at hand . wit/1 a straightedge
that the suiface is not
being bowed by th e
clamps. Adjust the
clamps to alter the
angle off orce, or add
anoth er clamp if you
need to correct any
misalignment.

4 P rotective block s
Tabletops with
111olded edges need
shaped blocks to
distribute the pressure
evenly across th e edge
profile. Make these
f rom several pieces
1 Using sash clamps of softwood or shape
You need at least three clamps to glue up a table to~t wo placed th em from solid
below and one above--to even out t/1e tendency for the panel to bow wood. Glue a lining
under pressure. Place softwoo d blocks benveen th e work and clamp of thick felt or carpet
headsto spread th e clamping fo rce and protect th e edge jron1 bntising. inside to protect
delicate moldings .
2 Leveling
the joint
Apply l(ght pressure
to th e boards,
squeezing out excess
glu e. Ch eck that the
suifaces on butt-
jointed boards are
flu sh by feeling the
suiface. If necessary,
tap the j oints level
with a hammer and
block of wood, then
tighten the clamps.

5 Clamping a1'01md tops


To compensate for the shaped edge of a round or oval top, 1nake a pair
of cradles to fit the wrve of tl1e top where it will be clmnped.

JLJLJL
TABLES : MENDING TOPS

Warped wood continues to react to its surro undings and w ill


When a tree is sawn into boards, it holds a high expand and contract if exposed to higher or lower
percentage of water in its cell structure. In order to humidi ty; this m ovem ent is greater across its w idth
m ake the wood usable, the level of moisture must and thickness than in its length.
be red uced by a process known as seasoning. This M ost shrinkage occurs along the line of the
is traditionaliy effected by slow natural air- drying; w ood's annual growth rings, which can cause a flat
in contrast, more modern m ethods employ highly board to bend or "cup ." Adding varnish or ve neer
sensitive and controllable kilns that prepare the to one side of a board forms a n10isture barri er,
wood in a frac tion of the tim e. When fully dried w hich can accentuate the degree of distortion , and
and seasoned, the moistu re content is relatively low as the board bends the cells on the concave side are
and the wood is m ore or less stable. H owever, wood slightly crushed (see below) .

How wood warps Wetting the board


Another me thod is to wet the concave side of a wa rped panel
or table flap, causing the wood fibers to swell and hopefully,
take o ut the cu rve. Don't attempt this o n ve ry distorted panels
or venee red boards-th e ve neers will probably lift in th e
process . This technique requi res patience and several
applications . The advice of an expert conservator m ay be the
best option. Polyethylene glycol (PEG) sold by woodwo rke r
supply houses and catalogues accomplishes the sam e effect.
More information on PEG can be fo und from other
woodworking sources or consult a qualified co nservator.

1 Wetting evenly
Wipe a damp cloth
across the concave
side of the panel
Warped tabletops until the suiface is
R elatively thin tops cut from wide boards are prone to evenly wet all over.
wa rping. Unfram ed panels, such as the fl aps of a drop-leaf Wipe off any water
table, are not easy to repair successfull y, and you m ay have to that runs to the other
live with the distortio n . T ops of fra m ed tables can som eti mes side of the wood.
be taken apart, rem ade, and pulled flat against a sturdy fram e.
As m oisture is m o re readily absorbed by unfinished wood , try
sealing the back of a tabletop w ith a wood finish to help
redu ce the tendency to wa rp .
Flattening a table flap
It may be possible to fl atten a thin bowed flap of a drop-leaf table by 2 Clamping the
screwing a stiff length of wood to the underside. Planing the face of the board flat
wood slightly convex will help . Set it diagonally to clear the gate, and Lay the board on a
make slotted screw holes to allow for movement. flat worktop, place a
co~1ple of stout battens
across the panel to
protect the suiface and
then gradually clamp
it down flat with fast-
action cramps. Leave
the board to dry out
for a day or two and,
if necessary, repeat the
process . Altematively,
clamp the wet board
between pairs of stout
battens so that you
can stand the assembly
upright against a wall
to dry out.

JLJL2
TABLES: MARBLE TOPS

MARBL E TOP~
arble is a fine -grained, crystalline, limestone
MOLDED EDGES
The edges of tabletops are often molded to provide a
M rock, found in a wide range of colors and
usually featuring striking veined markings. It takes
decorative detail. These are wo rked into the edge of a solid-
wood top , or an applied lip is glued to a veneered top. The a high polish and provides a functional and
corners are particularly vulnerable to damage; raise small dents attractive smface. In the past, furniture makers
w ith steam (see page 23) and repair broken edges with patches
of wood (see page 136).
used marble for tabletops, particularly for side tables
Small pedestal tables are som etimes made w ith tops that and washstands. White marble is perhaps the most
ha ve raised edges. Some of these tops were originally shaped common, but pink and black marbles are also used.
on a lathe, and you may be able to employ the same method Marble tabletops are not usually fastened in place,
to integrate a patch repair to a damaged edge. Decorative
"pie-crust" edges are carved from solid wood or are built but they simply rest on the frame. Because they are
up with applied moldings . In either case, unless yo u are an relatively brittle in slab form, handle these tops
experienced woodcarver, repairs are best left to professio nal carefully when removing them. Chipped or cracked
restorers. However, the basic stages involved in remaking the
edge are shown below: marble can normally be repaired successfully.
Maintaining marble top s
Being porous, marble easily abso rbs dirt and stains-this is
Stage 1 particularly noticeable on w hite marble-but it is not difficult
Tu rned or cmved to maintain, provided it is protected with a wax marble polish,
disk with a wide available from specialized suppliers . However, acidic foodstuffs
raised edge, ll'ith and drinks should be wiped away promptly, because they tend
sufficient lllaterialfor to etch the surface , leaving rough patches. Stains can usually
shaping the proft!e. be removed by applying an absorbent poultice containing a
suitable solvent. Make a poultice from soft white tissu e soaked
in water, or use an absorbent powder, such as whiting.

Cleaning marble
Stage 2 D11st the surface
Sawn proJile ll'ith regularly, and
guide lines for the occasionally wash it
carving 111arked 011 it. with a solution of
111ild soap and 111ater
containing a few
drops of mn1nonia.
Dry the surface with
a soft clotll or a
cha111ois leather, and
apply a thin coat cif
Stage 3 111ax 111arble polish.
Molding carved 011
the inside of tl1e
raised edge~

R emoving ... .-·


light water- '···.·.::;.:::::r ..;.: :.:.::..
~-··. ·: ; : ·: -
base stains ,,.,.-: .,..•:•1?~~ :~~ .. • • ,. ol' -·

t' ~ o ' • ,r•


Apply a thick layer ··'
of prepared poultice
over th e stain. Leave
Stage 4 this in place for th e
Co111pleted moldi11g water to activate th e
111ith a beaded edge. stain, which will
be absorbed by th e
poultice as it dries.
R e111ove the poultice,
rinse th e surface, and
dry 111ith a soft cloth .

113>
TABLES: MARBLE TOPS

R emolling Mending broken marble


oily stains /. If a marble top frac tures, repair it promptly before the break
JVIake a poultice, ' " becomes discolored . Clean old breaks before making repairs.
..r \\:1
" ,;,!
using a solvent, such You can bond a broken marble top using a two- part epoxy-
as alcohol, l(ghter resin adhesive . Check that the broken edges mate properly,
fluid, or acetone, and and prepare the equipment needed to hold the parts together.
apply it to the stain. D ep ending on the size and type of break, you may req uire
Cover it with a piece woodworking clamps, rubber bands, twine, or adhesive tape.
of plastic wrap, taped
in place to prerm1t
th e solveut from
evaporating too
quickly. R epeat th e
process if necessary,
and th en finish off

Bleaching
white marble
For persistent or
strong stains" use a ing the edges
solution of 3 parts i\1ix the two-part adhesive according to tl1e maker's instructions, and
distilled water to apply a thin film to both parts. Clamp t!JenJ together, ensuring that
1 part 1GO-volume the suiface is flu sh. Carefully wipe off excess glue with acetone or
hydrogen perox ide, denatured alcohol. Allow it to set hard.
plus aJew drops of
ammonia. Brush this Filling the suiface
onto the stain , leave Should the repair
until it works, then require filling, make
wash th e suiface a colored cement
tlwroughly . Allow it using epoxy adhesive
to dry, and repeat the mixed with marble
process if required. dust scraped from the
rough back of the
Smoothing tabletop. Talc or
the suiface whiting can be used
If marble is scratched ,j r for white marble. Fill
or etched, rub 011 t the I
f!
the crack and, when
rough patch with set, rub smooth ~vith
very fine wet-and-dry fin e sandpaper.
paper lubricated with Finish by applyir1g
water. For deeper wax polish.
marks, start with two
or three coarser-grade
!{
:_: '\.;
papers, tl1 en use
progressively finer Repairing a
grades (see page 23). ~ chipped edge
Clean th e suiface
thoroughly, th en fill
Polishing the chipped edge as
the surface neatly as possible
Apply a marble wax rvith a mixture of
as a polish or, for a epoxy glu e and
l1igh shine, burnish marble dust. Tape a
tl1e suiface l1ard strip of stiff plastic
with a coarse cloth over th e repair to
dampened wit/1 a contain the filler.
solution of oxalic acid vVhen set, peel off
(seepage 25). Wash the plastic, th en
th e acid jro111 th e shape ar1d smooth
suiface, and finish th e repair with very
111ith IIJarble wax. Jine sandpapers.
TABLES : VENEERED TABLETOPS

VE~EERED TABLETOPS
eneer is a very thin sheet of wood sliced from certain exotic w oods that w ould hardly be
V from the log for bonding to a stiffbacking,
know n as groundwork. In the past, pine boards
practicable if used in their solid form.
Veneering also makes sense economically,
and solid mahogany were used for the groundw ork, because it utilizes comparatively little wood.
but modern veneered panels are made from stable, Although craftsm en of the past m ay not have been
man-made laminated boards or particleboards. overly concerned w ith preserving diminishing
Veneered furniture has a reputation for being resources , they recognized the vari ety and beauty
inferior to that made from "solid" w ood. H owever, of veneer, and us ed it to produce refined and
veneering makes it possible to construct furniture decorative furniture that is highly valued today .
How veneer is cut
The appearance of ven eer is
no t o nly gove rned by the
natural color of the wood,
but also by how it is cut from
the log. T he fi gure, or surface
pattern, is produced by the
o rientation of the ceil
structure, w hich fo rms the
grain of the wood. Common
typ es of grain are straight Rotary cutting Flat slicing-for crown- cut veneers
grain, irregular grain, wavy The log is mMmted in a giant lathe, and the veneer Used for cutting decorative veneers, the fiat-slicing
grain, and interlocked grain. is peeled off by a knife blade running the length method uses a slidingframe to hold a log, which
Until veneer-slicing of the machine. This method produces a wide has been cut down its length to form 'fiitches ." The
m ac hines were developed, all continuous veneer that displays a variable figure . frame moves across the knife blade, which slices the
ve neers were sawn fro m the It is an economical process, used fo r producing veneer. The character of the figure is determined by
log and, by today's standards, constructional veneers employed in plywood the way the log is cut and how it is mounted in the
were relatively thick . T he manufactu re, hut some decora tive veneers, such as fra me. J.Vhen a half log is mounted heart-side down
thi ckness of the veneer can bird' s· eye maple, are also pro duced in this way. and cut tangentially, it produces crown-cut veneer.
be a useful guide for dating
furnitur e, because the use of
saw- cut veneer declined in
the nineteenth century as it
w as superseded by thinner,
(
machine- cut veneer.
There are basically three
m ethods used to produce
m achine- sliced veneer: rotary
cutting, half- round cutting, Half-round cutting Flat slicing-for quarter-cut veneers
and flat slicing. Befo re the This is a variation of rotary cutting, where a half vi/hen the veneer is cut more or less perpendicular
ve neer is cut, the wood is log is mounted off-center between the lathe centers . to the growth rings of a.flitch, it produces the
softened by immersing the It produces a wide decorative veneer with a similar quarter-cut striped fig ure of woods with interlocked
log in boiling wa ter or figure to fiat-sliced, crown-cut veneer. The half-log grain and the distinctive "ray" figure of oak veneer.
treating it w ith steam , the is sometimes mounted with the heartwood facing
length of time depending outward. This is known as back-cutting, and it
on the species of wood. is used for slicing decorative butt and curl veneers.

ROT ARY.Cll'T
)llRD'S EYE MAPLE FLAT-SLICED
CROWN-CUT AS H
TABLES: VENEER S

T YPJE§ 0 F VJEKJEJEJR
h e charac ter and appearance of veneer are not Buying veneer
T only dependent on the species of the wood, but
also on the part of the tree from w hich it is cut, and
W hen veneered furniture is damaged, try to retain
the original veneer to make the repair. If parts of
the m ethod used to slice the log. N o two pieces of the veneer are missing or the dam aged veneer is
ve neer are ever exactly the sam e, but those types unusable, buy new m aterial that is a close m atch in
illustrated here show a typical selection , all of w hich thickness, grain pattern, and color. This m ay not be
may be used in repairing and replacing damaged or an easy task, not least because the original veneer
missing veneers on panels and tabletops. Even odd- has p robably been stained, or bleached by light,
grained or defe ctive veneers m ay be used. making identifica tion and color- m atching difficult.
Crown-cut veneer Striped veneer Curly- R ay-
Wh en a log is cut Wood that is cut figured veneer figured veneer
tangentially, th e radially will display A decorative veneer Woods that have a
veneer displays a a striped figure. with distinctive bands distinctive radial cell
bold, attractive figure Ribbon figure veneer of light and dark structure produce
that f eatures sweeping has subtle stripes tones th at nm across ~111iqu e and decorative
curves down the leaf produced by the the ~vidth of the leaf veneers when quarter-
center, as well as a changing direction produced from wavy- cut. l¥ hen the rays
striped pattern. along cif the cell strucfim grain woods, such as are cut and exposed,
the edges. found in woods with sycamore and ash. a striking flecked
interlocked grain . figure is displayed.
TABLES: VENEERS

If you provide a good sample of the old veneer, supplied as irregular shapes, and curl veneers are
specialized suppliers will identify the species and trimmed and usually tapered. Full leaves are sold
should be able to select a close m atch of new singly or in bundles of consecutive veneers, in
veneer. Most materials can be purchased by mail multiples of four. Packs of assorted veneers
order, but if you have a local specialist yo u can take containing relatively sm all pieces are useful for
part of the furniture w ith you for identification. marquetry. If yo u need to match a thick veneer, as
Veneer is sold as cut pieces or full leaves, the found on older pieces of furniture, this is usually
latter varying in length and width, depending on made up by laminating thin modern veneers until
species, and valued accordingly. Burr veneers are the desired thickness is achieved.
Curl tJeneer Butt veneer Burr veneer Frea k-figured
Cur/veneer is cut Th e natural irregular Burrs are growths on veneer
from th e 'Jork" of a growth of wood cut th e side of a tmnk, vVoods with irregular
tree where the trunk from th e stump of a which display a grain or so1ne difect
divides. It produces a tree produces a unique and attractive are used to produce
lustrous feather/ike random -pattern, pattern of swirls and random -pattem
figure formed by the h(ghly figured, dots when cut in to decorative veneers.
diverging grain cells. decorative veneer. veneer. Burr veneer They are cut using
is on ly available in the rotary method.
small sections, and it
is fragile until bonded
to the groundwork.

117
TABLES: REPAIRING VENEERS

REPAI RI~G YE:'\EERED "'liJRFA E§


Built-up patterns A veneered top or panel is no less serviceable than
Fumiture makers often divide th e area of a panel into sections in order a solid one, provided the veneer is well laid and
to utilize smaller pieces of veneer or add interest, building up a pattem
by varying the direction of the grain. T ypical arrangements are book- fi nished. H owever, like a solid top, it can be
matching, butt-matching, quartered diago ual, and quartered reverse damaged by an impact from a hard obj ect. Poor
diagonal. The most simple arrangements can be laid by hand, using workmanship , inferior materials, and, in som e cases,
a veneer hammer, but, in most case,s you will find it easier and more
ifficient to use cauls (see page 123) .
adverse environmental conditions can cause veneer
to blister or lift, w hich in turn can lead to chipped
edges. Should the veneer become damaged, do not
'; I I
'' :' .. t\ ignore the problem because it can make repairs mo re
' ·~-.~::· : '
'' I
! / ' ' ; diffic ult later, especially if broken pieces are lost.
!' I'· i )i
! All the tech niques described in this chap ter also

i
I)
:I
'-'-
\ i: !
I

iii j
I
... ; ~
I

i i iI
·,
i apply to repairing veneered chests and cabinets.
I I R aising a dent
I \ ~
I I ' Carefully consider w hether to raise a dent in veneer. If the
I I ' '
' '' ' '
:; : ' ''
! ' damage is acceptable, it may be best left alone.
'
\ \ \\ \/ ' ' I
' R aise a shallow dent in a similar way to that described for a
' ' iI
' ; : !i
\' I ~
\
I
\

'
' .: i
I i '
solid top (see page 23) . Treat the damage w ith the minim um
', am o unt of m oisture, and stop w hen the smf ace is fl ush.
!\ \ "i
•. '!"' ! r
' '
Book-1natd1ing Butt-matching P ressing
the s u iface
Because water and
steam will soften the
glue holding the
veneer, it is necessary
to keep th e laminate
under pressure to
prwent it lifting.
Cover the repair
with a piece of plastic
sheet and a wooden
block, and press it
down with heavy
weights or clamps .
Quartered diagonal Quartered reverse diagona l
Dealing with blisters
Blisters are often the result of a breakdo wn or insufftcient
spread of the glu e bo nding th e ve neer to the gro undwork. In
som e cases, w ater may have been allowed to saturate the
ve neer, causing the veneer to bu ckle. Al tho ugh some blisters
are obvious to the eye , yo u ca n also detect loose patches of
ve neer by tapping the surface with the tips of your fi ngernails.
A change in tone denotes the weak spots.

R epairing
an old blister
The cavity of an old
split blister is often
contmninated with
dirt. Soften tl1e
veneer and an y
remaining glue with
a damp cloth, and
l1eat bifore regluing.
Scrape th e underside
of the blister with a
Coffee table suifaced with craft knife, apply
quartered veneer glue, and press fl at.
TABLES: REPAIRING VENEER S

1 Flattening Patching a damaged edge


a blister The edges of smface ve neer, edge bandings, and crossbanded
Apply a damp cloth lips are susceptible to damage, and they often need patching.
to th e blister, and Whatever the situation, it is important that the figure of the
heat it with an patch is a good m atch ; a lighter color can be modified with
electric iron. As the w ood dye . If you are m atching thicker saw-cut veneer, you
veneer and glue start may ha ve to cut your ow n on a circular saw. Othenvise,
to sriften, press the laminate pieces of knife-cut ve neer. Make the veneer slightly
blister into place. thicker than the finished size to allow for final sanding.
R emove th e cloth and
press the suiface with 1 Tap ing
th e iron , then allow the p atch
it to cool. Provided Cut your selected
there is s ~ifficient vweer patch slightly
glu e, th e veneer will lt11ger than th e area
re111ain flat. of the repair. Position
it with the fig ure
111atching as closely
as possible, and tape
it in place.

2 Adding glue 2 Cutting the


If th e blister is patch to fit
starved ofglu e, you Try to ntake wts th at
will need to introduce ntu at an angle to th e
son1e. Dmnpen th e graiu. Cut th rough
veneer, then make a tl1e veneer patch,
fin e knife cut through using a shmp kn ife
th e blister, following and straightedge,
th e grain. Work and score the veneer
white or animal glue beneath. When
under the veneer, cutting curly grain,
using a palette knife make th e cuts
or brush. Press the fi'eehand, fo llowing
blisterflat, wipe a wrving line.
away excess glue,
and tape the cut. 3 Cleaning
the cutout
Cue the old veneer
along the scored lines,
th en remove remnants
of broken veneer
3 Clamping within the cut
the repair area, using a sharp
Cover the area with chisel. Scrape the
a sheet of plastic, groundwork smooth
th en clantp a block with a wide chisel
over it to press the held vertically.
veneerflat while
th e glue sets. 4 Gluing
the patch
Apply mlimal glu e
or white glue to th e
groundwork and th e
veneer. Tape th e
veneer into place, and
press it flat with a
clamp al'ld u;ooden
block. Wh en set, t11rn
th e panel over and
trilu th e overhang
flu sh 111ith th e edge.

119
TABLES: REPAIRING VENEERS

Patching the surface Removing v eneer


D amage w ithin the main smface area of the ve neer, such as In order to preserve the pati na of old furnitu re, keep repairs to
scorched wood, can be patched in a similar way to an edge a minimum . H owever, there are ti mes w hen the condition of
repair. Select and cut the veneer to fo llow the grain . "Boat" o r a veneered surface dictates that the veneer has to be lifted .
diam o nd shapes are often used, but let the grain be yo ur guide. Yo u may be fo rtunate enough to be able to reuse the stripped
Veneer punches in a range of sizes are available from ve neer, but if not, keep it fo r future repairs.
specialized supp liers and are conve nient if you need a number
of similar patches . U se the punch to make an irregular cuto ut 1 A pplying
in the smface and an identical patch from a m atchi ng ve nee r. moisture
First rei/IO!Je the old
1 Cutting a patch fi 111'sh (see pages
Select th e veneer 20---21) . Cover the
patch. A lign th e top 111ith a thick layer
grain and tape it over of damp clotll, a11d
th e damaged area . leave it ovemighr.
Cut th e patch to Re1110Ve the clot/1 a11d
th e req uired shape work over the surface
through both layers . with a hot iro11 a11d
Tritn away the da 111p c/ot/1 pad.
waste, and glu e
the patch in place .

2 Using a punch
Position the
appropriate-size 2 Lifting
punch over the the veneer
da 111aged area, Ease the ve11eer ciff
and strike it with a tl1e gro u11dwo rk with
111allet. R emove the a wide wallpaper
waste fro m the wt scraper, applying
shape. Stamp out extra heat as
a patch fro m tl1e required. Lay the
matching veneer veneerfacedown and
and glue it in to remove old glue with
th e prepared recess. a warm , damp rag
and scraper.

Patching groundwork
R epair scorch ed or damaged gro undwo rk befo re replacing
ven eer. If the charred patch is shall ow, yo u can scrape it clean
and fill the dep ression w ith a wood putty. Insert a woode n
plug into a deeper repair.

Fitting a plug 3 Fla ttening the veneer


Prepare and w f the To stop it fro Ill buckli11g, place
veneer patch, making the da111p ve11eer betwee11 fiat
it slightly la~ger than pa11els of particleboard li11ed with
th e damaged area of paper, a11d allow it to dry.
groundwork . Cut
away or drill out the
damaged material
fornling a dianwnd
or round recess in the
gro undwork, and
make a plug of
matching wood to fit.
C lue the plug into
place with the gra il1
in the Sal lie direction,
and tri111fi nsh.

120
TABLES: LAYING VENEER

LAY~~G VE:'\'EEIR
owadays it is standard practi ce to veneer a Hand veneering
N tabletop on both sides, in order to prevent
a single face veneer bowing the groundwork as it
Traditionalists prefer to use animal glues for hand
veneering. For this m ethod, you w ill need a
shrinks; this was not often done in the past. Veneer ve neer hammer, w hich you can buy or m ake from
can be laid using the " hand m ethod" or w ith cauls. hardwood, or you can use a cross-peen hammer
The traditional hand m ethod uses animal glue for sm all repairs. Y ou w ill also need an electric iron,
to bond the veneer, w hich is pressed into place, a sponge, a bowl of warm w ater, gummed tape ,
using a veneer hammer. This is w orked w ith hand a sharp knife , and a straightedge. However, it is a
pressure to squeeze out surplus glue and ensure a lot simpler to lay veneer w ith glue film.
tight bond. Alternatively, use a modern heat- Using heat-sensitive glue film
sensitive glue film . H eat- sensitive, paper-backed glue film is clean and non-
Caul veneering uses flat or shaped boards or staini ng. The sheet is easily cut to size and shape w ith scissors.
U se an electric iro n to soften the glu e, and a veneer hammer
blocks, w hich are clamped to press the veneer into or w ide w ooden seam-roller to press down the veneer.
place . T his m ethod is particularly suited to laying
veneer m ade up from pieces taped together. It also 1 Laying the film
C ut the sheet to size
enables both sides of a panel to be ve neered at the and lay it on the
sam e time. Traditional animal glue can be used, as groundwork, with
well as cold-setting resin glues, w hich allow more the backing paper
time for placing, or "laying up ," the veneer. f acing up. Set th e
iron at medium heat,
When re-veneering a surface, try to use th e and nm it over th e
original veneer, but replace it w ith new material suiface to induce th e
if it is beyond repair. glu e to grip.

Preparing the groundwork


It is essential that the gro undwork is petfect!y flat and smooth,
because any undulations will show thro ugh a thi n ve neer and
will be highlighted by a shiny finish . Large splits can be filled
w ith a strip of wood (see page 137) , w hile fine cracks can be 2 Peeling
treated effectively w ith a wood putty. the backing
VVhen the glu e has
1 Washing cooled, peel ciff the
off old glue backing paper. Now
Scrape off thick lay the prepared
deposits of old veneer in place over
animal glue, then the glue-lined suiface
scrub the groundwo rk cif the groundwork.
with hot water, using
a coarse cloth. Allow
it to dry.

3 Ironing veneer
Cover the veneer
2 Roughing with the backing
the suiface paper to protect it.
After repairing With the iron set to
any faults in the medium heat, slowly
groundwo rk, rough ~llork over the suiface
the suiface with to melt the glu e,
coarse sandpaper pressing down the
wrapped around a l!eneer as you go. Do
sanding block. Work not overheat the glu e,
the block diagonally; and do not stretch the
finish by removing veneer by reworking
all traces of dust. it too much.

121
TABLES: LAYING VENEER

Laying veneer with animal glue


Animal glue is available in bead fonn and needs to be prepared
in a do uble-jacketed glue pot, or improvise using a clean food
can in a small saucepan. Quarter-fill the glue pot with glue
beads, cover them with hot water, and allow it to soak. Fill the
saucepan halfway with water and heat the glue to not more than
120°F (49°C), stirring to a smooth , free-fl owing consistency.

1 Siz ing the work


If you are veneering
11ew groundwork, 5 Making a joint
seal th e wood with Should you need co join leaves of veueer together to cover a panel,
thinned glue qfter y arrange them so the joint is sylllllletrical. For example, lay two pieces,
ou rough the suiface. with the figure opened like the leaves of a book and the joint placed
Lightly sand the down the middle of the pa11el. Clue rhe111 with the edges overlappi11g
board when dry. Old by 1 inch (2 5mm) at th e cellfer.
groundwork that has
been stripped of its 6 Cutting
veneer does not need the veneer
this treatment. Lay a straightedge
down the center line,
2 Laying and wt through both
the veneer layers if veneer with
Brush a thin, even a shmp knife. It is
coat qffull-strength best co 111ake the cut
glue onto the i11 o11e pass.
groundwork and
veneer, and leave it
until tacky. Place the
veneer into position,
and press it fiat with 7 Removing
your hand. Dampen the waste
the suiface with a hot, Peel away the top
well-wrung sponge. strip, lift the edge
of the overlapping
3 Pressing veneer, and pull the
the veneer lower strip clear.
Set th e irol'l to a You may need to
rnoderate heat, a11d dampen and heat
work it over the the strip to make
dampened suiface to it easier. Press the
melt the glue. If the edges fiat, using the
iron is too hot, it hammer, and tape
will cause the glue to th e joint to prevent
degrade and leads to th e veneerfrom
shrinkage problerns parting as it dries .
with the veneer.
8 Tl'imming
4 Using the the edges
veneer hammer Whw dry, tum the
Follow immediately pm1el over and, with
!.vi th th e veneer the vmeerfacedown
hamrner, working 011 a fiat suiface, tri111

along the grain u;ith a away the surplus


zigzag action. Work material all around
from the center of the with a sharp knife .
veneer toward the Finish by sanding
ends, squeez ing out th e edges smooth.
swplus glu e and air.
If th e glue chills,
dampen a11d heat the
veneer as you work.

122
TABLES: CAUL VENEERING

CAUL VJENEJEJRJXG
aped veneers or veneers that are brittle and
T diffic ult to lay by hand are best laid between
clam ped cauls. Traditionalists wo uld opt for using
Using animal glue
It is necessary to wo rk quickly when using animal glue,
because the cauls need to be hot . Therefore , you will need
to prepare the wo rkbench with all the equipment at hand
hot animal glue, especially as it is always possible for and, if possible, recruit an assistant.
a restorer to reverse the wo rk should another repair
be re quired in the future. H owever, cold-setting 1 Applying
the glue
resin glue has definite practical advantages when R ough the suiface cif
caul veneering large panels. the groundwork and
size it if required.
Making cauls Apply e11en coats of
Make flat cauls, slightly larger than the area of the ani111al glue to the
gro undwork , from panels of thick particleboard. In order groundwork and
to be able to clamp large cauls firmly and evenly, prepare veneer. Allow it to gel
enough pairs of stiff wooden bearers for your purpose. so that the veneer does
not slip 0 11 the glue as
pressure is applied.

1 Planing the bearers


Plane the clampingfaces of the bearers to a shallow convex curve to
provide pressure at the center. This ensures that any surplus glu e is
squeezed out to the edges if the veneer, although the clamping force is 2 Preparing the cauls
applied to the ends if the bearers . Preheat the top caul on both siaes in front of a heater.
M eanwhile, lay the bottom caul on a row of evenly spaced
bearers. Place the veneer- covere d groundwork on top and
cover with sheets of newspaper.

3 Clamping the cauls


Quickly place the hot caul on th e veneer, then clamp the cen ter bearers
2 Making clamps first, applying even pressure to both ends. Apply the other bearers in
You could use conventional clamps to apply pressure to the bearers, a sinu'lar way. Once the glue lias set, re111ove th e bearers and tri111 th e
but it may be less expensive to fit threaded rods, using IHtts with large edges of t/1e work. if required, lay a balancing 11eneer on th e other side
washers, to provide the clamping force. as soon as possible.

123
TABLES : CAUL VENEERING

Using cold-setting glue Preparing veneer for finishing


Once cured, cold-setting resin glues are strong and resistant ewly laid veneer should be left for several days before
to heat and moisture and are ideal for veneering tabletops. cleaning up. Take care not to remove too much matetial ,
H owever, they are only suitable for caul veneering, because particularly if yo u use an orbital sander.
cold-setting glues require sustained pressure to make a tight
bond. Because they do not have to be kept hot, there is no 1 R emoving
hurry w hen assembling the wo rk, and both sides of a panel gummed tape
can be ve neered at the same time. Glue is applied only to the First dampen and
gro undwork, but it is essential that the sutface is covered evenly. peel off any gummed
paper used to tape
1 P reparing joints or splits in the
the veneer 11eneer. W1pe the
If the 11enw· needs to suiface with a damp
he joined in order to cloth to remo11e all
co11er the panel, la y traces cif animal ghte,
the lea11es together then allow the wood
and plane the mating to dry thoroughly .
edges straight, using
a long plane and a 2 Using a
shooting hoard. ca binet scraper
Clamp long pieces of Use a scraper to
11eneer between two le11el the suiface.
straightedge lengths Following the grain,
of wood hifore hold the scraper
planing them. square to the line cif
1'1'/0IIement when
working a single
sheet of 11eneer, hut
hold it at an angle
when scraping across
joined 11eneers or
bandings and when
starting at an edge.

3 Sanding
the surface
Sand the suiface with
11ery fine sandpaper
2 T aping the join t wrapped around a
Arrange the lea11es face up with planed edges together, then hind th em block, working with
with short strips ofgummed tape across the joint, followed by a the grain . If this is
continuous strip along it. not possible with
joined 11eneers and
r--- - - - - -- - - - - - - - - - - , . handings, sand in
one direction only.
CAUL Use an orbital
sanding machine on
large areas. Wipe off
the suiface dust ready -- ~ - . _-:. . ,..
for polishing.
-· ..--

BOTTOM VENEER.
4 Sanding
NEWSPAPER. -----:~:::=:::::~:::::::::::::~:::=:::~~~=~ moldings
CAUL You could use a
BEAR.ER.S - - - -f'e.:O':i shaped scraper to
3 Veneering both sides clean up 11eneered
Prepare the work area with the bottom bearers in position and one caul moldings, b~tt it is
laid on top . Apply glue to the back of the groundwork and lay it 011 easier to sand them
the bottom 11eneer. Glue the top suiface, and place the face 11eneer. with IIEI')' fine
Positio11 th e panel bet~veen the top and bottom cauls, and clamp sanpaper and a
together with e11e11 pressure. shaped block.
TABLES: CAUL VENEERING

Veneering molded shapes


Small shaped work, in the form of cornices, bases,
and moldings, is sometimes m ade from inexpensive
woo d and faced with decorative cross- grain veneer
(see page 152). For repairs, it is often easier to
employ sand as a m eans of applying pressure to
the veneer rather than make shaped cauls.

1 Making the
impression B ending cross-grain veneer
Press th e ~vorkpiece Priform the veneer that 1vill run across th e width cif th e molding to
into th e sand to form make it easier to handle. Dampen the veneer, place strips of wood
th e shape in reverse, along the edges, and pull it over th e shaped groundwork with wbber
then lift it out and ba11ds or adhesive tape. Allow th e veneer to dry bifore applying glue
brush off any grains and pressing it in a sandbox.
of sand.
Using a sandbag
A s an altemative f or
veneering simple
shapes, make a
canvas bag to cover
the area cif the work,
and fill it with .fine
dry sand. Prepare the
groundwork and
2 L aying veneer, then apply
the veneer the glue. If you are
Apply resin glue to using animal glue,
the groundwork and heat the sandbag and
Ia y the veneer over it. place it over the
Cover the veneer paper-covered veneer.
with newspaper, and Clamp th e assembly
place the assembly between cauls.
carifully onto the
shaped sand.

Gluing with
contact adhesive
Instant-bond contact
adhesive can be used
to secure veneer to
shaped groundwork
3 P ressing without cauls. Apply
into the sand th e adhesive evenly
Press the workpiece to both suifaces.
into the mold with Allow the glue to
clamps and a block to become touch-dry ,
distribute the force . then, working from
one edge, lo wer and
press th e veneer on to
the workpiece.

Jl.25
TABLES : CROSSBANDING

CRO§ BA~DJ:\G
rossbanding is a m ethod used to create
C decorative borders on a panel. It is often
applied to tabletops and cabinet doors. Fine strips
Laying crossbanding
If the banding is beyond repair, dampen the ve neer and
carefully remove it, making sure yo u do not disturb the inner
panel. Clean away the old glue, ready for the new banding.
of woo d know n as stringing are som etimes used to Select the ve neer to march the original as closely as possible.
define the different areas of the veneer. D ecorative
bandings are made from secti ons of colored woo d 1 C utting
cross banding
in various patterns and w idths. Bandings can be Because bandings are
incorp orated w ith other veneers or inlaid into a Cllt across the grain,
solid- wood ground. .first tri111 the end of
the leaf strmght,
Crossbanding repairs using a straightedge
The cross banded borders laid around the edges of a panel are and a very shmp
particularly vulnerable to chipping. You can repair chipped knife. Cut successive
ba ndings with patch es, and it is possible to replace them parallel strips from
enti rely if the dam age is too extensive. the end of the veneer,
making them shghtly
1 Patching wider than the
an edge .finished banding.
Select a matching
veneer, and tape a
slightly oversized
patch over th e
da111aged portio11.
Niake two wrs 2 Using a
square to th e edge cutting ga uge
with a shmp lmife, An altemative
followi1·1g th e grain of 111ethod is to wt strips
the banding. Cut the for narrow bandings
inner edge level with with a wtting gauge
th e banding line. set to the req uired
Cut through the width; nm the tool
patch, bnt only score along the strmghtedge
the banding veneer. of a board.
2 P reparing
the cutout
R en10ve th e trimmed
patch and waste, and
w t through the
banding on the
marked lin es . Pare
away the damaged
veneer within the wt 3 D ealing with
lin es . Dampening mitered ends
the veneer may help. Apply gummed
paper to th e end of a
strip bei11g mitered to
3 Gluing preve11t the veneer
the patch from breaking away
Apply glue to the at the corner. Set a
gro nndwork, place sliding bevel to the
th e new patch, and angle of the existing
clamp it fiat. Trim ba11di11g, and use it
the other edge, and to miter the end of
sand ready for the new veneer strip.
finishing.
TABLES: BANDINGS AND STRINGING

JBA~DK~G§ i-i~D STRJ~GKNG


4 Gluing ecorative bandings are available as patterns
the banding
Dampen the pieces
D m ade up from side- grain secti ons of colored
hardwoods . T h e strips are cut to approximately the
of banding prior to
laying them. Starting sam e thickness as knife- cut ven eer and are produ ced
at one of the mitered in various w idths. They can be taped together w ith
ends, apply glue to
the groundwork and
other ven eers for caul ven eering, or inlaid into a
the face of the first groove cut into a solid-wood top .
piece. Position the Strings are single strips or "lines" of woo d m ade
veneer, and press it in a limited range of flat and square sections. U sed
into place with a
veneer hammer. to outline decorative details, they are produced in
"white," a light- colored woo d, or " black," a dye d
5 Joining version, to contrast w ith the surrounding veneer.
the banding
Apply glue and lay
the next strip of
veneer in the same
way, with the end
slightly overlapping
the first piece. Using
a straightedge and
shmp knife, wt
through both strips
and peel away the
waste, then press
the joint fiat.
Repairing bandings
6 Finishing off Bandings are laid like veneer, and may need to be patch ed
Continue in the if the top is dam aged. Try to matc h the design precisely,
same way until but if this is not possible, replace a full length of banding
you reach the other with one that is similar.
mitered comer. Butt
the last strip into the 1 Cleaning
mitwr bifore cutting the groove
its other overlapped Scrape the groove
end to make a square clear of old glue and
butt joint. Tape all fragments of the
the joints, and let the damaged banding,
work dry . Trim the using a narrow chisel
overhanging edge and held almost vertically.
prepare the suiface lf you need to clear
ready for finishing. part of the banding
still in place, cut
down the sides with
JOINING THICK VENEER a fine knife and
Thick veneer chisel out the waste.
bandings are best cut
to length with a fine 2 Fitting
saw. When making the banding
end-to-md butt JVIatch the pattern,
joints, plane the and cut the banding
meeting edges of to length. Miter the
each piece square end if it is required to
on a shooting board. _fit a corner. Apply
Try the fit and, if glue, and then press
necessary, make the banding into
adjustments as place with a cross-
each piece is laid. peen hammer.

ll27
TABLES : MARQUETRY AND PARQUETRY

) t-i RQ'CETRY ~- ~D E-iRQ'CETRY


Repairing stringing arquetry and parquetry are decorative
Strings may be laid in the smface of a top or at the edge.
Because they are flexible, they are often set in a curve. If yo u
M treatments thatuse colored ven eer to create
fi nd it necessary to follow a curve, w et the stringing, beca use ornate patterns. Marquetry designs are pictorial in
this makes it easier to bend. style, using naturalistic and abstra cted flora-and-
fa una motifs. Parqu etry, a form of marquetry,
1 P reparing employs geometric shapes, such as diamonds
the g roove
Clean out the groove and squares. Small pieces of veneer are often
to receive th e new missing, but unless yo u are fa irly experienced
stringing. You may it is best to leave all but the simplest of repairs
be able to use a
narrow chisel, but a to a professional restorer.
knife blade 111ay be Preassembled marquetry motifs are still used to
better if the string is decorate furniture .in the traditional manner. They
very narrow.
are produced in various colou ed woo ds and are
available .in a range of shapes and sizes. They come
w ith a paper backing ready for laying, and they can
be set .into a veneered panel or inlaid into solid
woo d. These preassembled motifs ca n be used to
replace a damaged original, or, in some cases, to
cover the damaged section of a veneered top .
2 Fitting
the string
Dry-fit th e string
into th e groove, and
mark the required
length. R emove it
and cut to siz e with
a chisel. Apply glu e,
p~t s h the string into
th e groo!Je, and press
ho111e 1vith a small
cross-peen ham111er.

R epairing edge string ing


Clean th e edge rabbet with a scratch stock or chisel. Apply glue, press
th e stringing in place, and hold it with strips of 111asking tape fas tened Preasse111bled veneer 111otifs
at close intervals over th e edge.

1L2
TABLES: MARQUETRY AND PARQUETRY

Replacing missing parts Shading veneer


U se a sharp knife and a steel rule when cutting straight edges, Traditional inlay motifs sometimes have sections of the
and use the knife freehand when cutting curved shapes . design shaded to create a three-dimensional effe ct. You
can reprodu ce a similar effect, using heated sand.
1 Tracing
the shape 1 Dipping a
Clean out the recess patch in hot sand
aud tape a thin sheet Pour fine silver sand
of paper over it. into a fiat metal can
Take a rubbing of or ahuni1111111 foi l
th e recess, using a dish Ullfif aflll OSt
soft pencil or crayon. full. Place it on a
stove bumer and heat
on a low setting. Cut
th e reqnired veneer a
little oversizde, and
insert the edge into
th e sand. After a few
seconds, lift out th e
IJeneer with tweezers
and check the color.

2 Checking
the color
2 Preparing Lightly sm1d the
the new piece charred surface, and
of veneer dalllpen it to get an
Stick the paper illlpression of the
pattern onto th e face finished color. Jf
of th e selected piece of satiifactory, wt th e
veneer with water- patch to shape with
soluble gum . 1\1ake th e shading following
s11re that the grain the required direction,
mns in th e required and glne into place.
direction. Cover with
a weighted block,
and allow it to dry.

Laying a veneer motif


Select a motif suitable in design and scale, and tape it to the
smface veneer, paper side up , in the required position.

3 Fitting Cutting through


the veneer the surface veneer
C nt th e part to Jf th e 111otif is already
shape, following the shaped, wt around it
marked outline, and with a shmp knife.
check fo rfit, making Jf not, mark out th e
slight adjust111ents if reqnired shape and wt
required. Apply glue through the motif and
and press into place. th e surface veneer
When set, dampen simultaneously. In
tl1e paper pattern and either case, IT/1/0ile th e
remove it. veneer and clean out
the waste, then glue
th e rnotif in to th e
recess. Soak ciff th e
paper cover.

CHJE§T§ AND
CAJBKNJET§
THE MODER ANSWER TO OUR STORAGE
needs is to gro up a w hole range of cupb oards
and drawers together; the sam e basic units
serve anonym ously in the kitchen , bedroo m ,
or lounge. Older item s of furniture were
invariably m ade as free-standing items, each
with a specific function , hence the seemingly
different categories of storage furniture-
chests of drawers, wardrobes, highboys,
dressing tables, burea ux, dressers, and so on .
From the humble blanket chest to an antique
sideboard, they are all basically boxes
(carcasses) fitted w ith doors, lids, or drawers,
and the m ethods for repairing them apply to
most item s of storage furniture.
CABINETS: CONSTRUCTION

§OLilD-'VOOD C ONSTJRUCTIO ~
he problem , as always when using panels of with rabbeted dovetails- a strong joint that spreads
T solid wood, is the inevitable shrinkage and
expansion of w ood caused by changes in humidity .
the load across the entire width of the panels. The
solid-wood top m ay be j oined in a similar manner,
Consequently, furniture was designed to allow the but m ore often it is screwed from below to two rails
wood to m ove without it adversely affecting the dovetailed to the side panels.
structure or appearance of the piece . The drawers 3lide on runners screwed to the
inside of the cabinet; each drawer is supported
Chest of drawers across its width by a rail. A thin panel of wood
The traditional chest of drawers is a perfect example pro tects the contents from dust.
of the ingenuity of cabinetmakers bent on creating a H alf-width drawers are separated by a short
fun ctional piece of furniture from solid w ood. The vertical post and slide on a combined drawer runner
side panels, and possibly the bottom panel, too, are and guide running from front to back. The back
normally m ade by gluing several planks of wood panel is held in grooves or rabbets cut in the
together. They are j oined at the bottom corners surrounding panels and tacked to the rear top rail.

T YPICAL CHEST R ear post Central


OF D RAW E R S Supports the central ru nner. drawer runner
It may run from top to Make sure this is D rawer guide
bottom, or it can be a short securely fas tened to Prevents dra wers from
rail hanging from the top rail. the rear post. slipping sideways.
Top
Th is is molded on the ~-- .L op rail
front and sides and is A triangular fillet at
screwed to th e top rails. each end of the rail
increases the u;idth cif
Back panel the do vetail j oint.
Essential for rigidity.
Woodu;orm in a back post
panel often goes Tenoned into th e top
1mdetected f or years rail and drawer rail.
(see page 156) .

-:::::~~~~~~~~~~~~~:j~~~~rail
Side panel
Th ese panels develop
splits if th e drawer
rails are rigidly glued
or screwed across ~ Stub-tenoned into
the inside. side panels, th ese
often show signs of
D rawer stop wear at each end
K eeps th e drawer (see page 140) .
fronts aligned and
prevents drawers from
kn ocking the back R eplace missing
panel out of position. du stboards with
sheets of plywood
B ottom panel (see page 140) .
This panel is fa stened
to side panels with
rabbeted dovetails.

D rawer
Plinth D ra wer sides are frequent ly in need
The chest either stands on a cif repair, and you may need to
separate plinth or may be fitted replace or reposition the dra wer
with short turned feet . bottom (see pages 142-3) .

]_ 3) 2
..__ _ _ _ _ _.::;
C:!;HE
= S~
T~S AND CABINET S: CONSTRUCTION
'-'----

Kitchen dresser
Kitchen dressers were originally made by individuals To save wood, the rack of open shelves is usually
or small workshops and were constructed according constructed separately and is plugged on top of the
to local tradition. The base unit of the dresser base unit. The shelf-unit top may be dovetailed or
shown has two identical half-width drawers above simply nailed to the narrow side panels, and the
a pair of cupboard doors. The frame is made from fixed shelves are fitted into dado joints. A deep
rails and door stiles glued to solid-wood side panels. cornice moulding is attached with glued blocks to
The cupboard bottom is dadoed into the sides and the top and sides. The back panel, usually made
the oversailing top is screwed down from below. from tongue-and-groove boards, is tacked to the
The cupboard invariably has one fixed shelf back of the shelf unit.

Design variations
1 A clothes press is a chest of
drawers topped by a cupboard
that holds sliding trays .
2 A bureau cabinet comprises a
Parts are somettmes base unit containing a falljlap
missing and need wnting desk, with a glazed
replacing (see bookcase above. The glazing
page 152). nught include leaded glass panes
made with decorative glass .
Narrow
side panel
Plugs onto the top,
using dowel pegs.

Back panel - -------1!--+t--+-__.


On some dressers,
the panel extends to
enclose the base unit. ~////
Fixed shelf - -+--ft-+---+_// ---:
A plate groove cut in L_l_L_J_..l.__L_l-.LJ-==~~===~~ - ~~§~.':;:::;::::,.JL,.~
the shelf allows plates '---n- ~.
to be displayed 111 an ~ -'
upright position ,
~ ~-
! ~
I
Solid- wood top - -........._
;;~~~;:::::" ~~~ETt::~::~
::~
:;=_=_=-,_-rl;:--:~-~::
--~~a~=~~lx-J
Runners support .~
~ 1f ~-.,_ :. r. lri
drawers. Guides are ~ r> ' Ill
flush with the edges

:~:~::.u
side panel \
~·.
1,
/ ~~~_::;~ L...--'r---_____..-t t--
Checkfor signsof rot '" ~"""" ~
or water staining at
floor level. .,._. ~ -~=~;;~~~
Stile Cupboard door
The side panel has a - Cupboard bottom Central stile Attached to the stile
vertical stile glued to Dadoed into the side Tlt e vertical stile with face-motwted
the front edge. panels, it also setves divides cupboard !tinges or butt hin
as a doorstop . doors and drawers.

JL33
CHESTS AND CABINETS: CONSTRUCTION

rame-and- panel construction was developed to Chiffonier


F allow for the movement in solid wood while
reducing the weight of storage furniture. The side
A late-Victorian chiffonier demonstrates basic
fran1e - and-panel construction. Long horizontal rails
of a cabinet, for example, comprises a thin panel of join the side panels, crea ting an open framework
wood held in grooves, or sometimes rabbets, on the that is clad w ith a divided solid-wood back panel.
inside of a framework of rails and posts. The panel is The bottom rests on the lower framing. The top of
always left free, because gluing or nailing it in place the chiffonier is made from inexpensive wood that
inevitably promotes splitting of the wood. is veneered and lipped all ro und.
Pl)'\¥Ood, manufactured in quantity since the turn This cupboard is enclosed by two doors, w hich
of the century, is designed to resist the tendency to fea ture carved, raised- and-fielded panels. Furniture
warp and crack; it is the ideal substitute for a solid- of this quality is typically fitted with a brass bolt on
wood panel. It could even be glued to the outside the inside of one door and a lock on the other.
of an inexpensive frame, creating the illusion of a The veneered upstand, edged w ith applied
continuous plank of good-quality wood, but at a carving, carries a narrow shelf supp orted by carved
fraction of its weight and cost. brackets . Screws are used to attach the upstand .

VICTORIAN CHIFFONIER

~In\---- Upsta nd
Veneered top In expe11sive soft ~l!ood upstands
Look ou t for chipped veneer are veneered and decorated with
around the edges (see page 136) . applied carving. Carved brackets
Screws pass through a cleat at support a hardwood shelf.
each end of the cabinet.

Top rail
This is attached to t/1e legs with
a do vetail joint at each end.

panel
This is aframe,
made with rnortise-
and-tenon joints,
enclosing a solid-
wood panel that is
chamfered on th e
inside to fit grooves .

--~-iHla-- Back panel


Solid- wood back
panels are found on
most Victoria11 pieces.

Frame-and-pan el
doors
if these stick, check
Bottom panel Doorstop Closing bead whether th e wood
Clu ed to framing, this forms This is nailed to th e A lw!f- round molding has swollen (see
a narrow molding along the bottom rail covers the gap betwem page 146) and make
front rail. doors. This is sometimes sure the hinges are
broken or missing . fas tened sewrely.
CHESTS AND CABINETS: CONSTRUCTION

Dressing table D esign variations


This type of dressing table , made in the 1930s or Fram e-and-panel construction is
suitable for practically any type of
1940s, is essentially a chest of drawers that is tall storage furniture, but partiwlarly
eno ugh to enable a gentleman to shave while for large items.
standing at the pivo ting mirror. It embodies the 1 A wardrobe is essentially a
r-
same frame-and-panel principles describ ed and
illustrated opposite, but, by this period, plywood
wpboard like th e chiffonier, but
on a larger scale. Th is 1930s
version is constructed with
-
was more often used for the panels, dustboards veneered-plywood panels.
2 A chest is a wpboard lying 011
between drawers, and back panel. its back. This blanket chest has a
The arrangement of drawer runners and rails is solid- wood lid attached with
very similar to that described for a solid- wood chest ha11dmade iron strap hinges.
of drawers (see page 132), but, because of the 3 !VIa11y washstands are simply
marble-top tables. This version is
frame-and-panel construction, each runner requires a small frame -and-panel cabinet Lf{
0 L.trl
a matching drawer guide in order to prevent the with a tiled upstand.
drawer from sliding sideways .

GENTLEMAN'S DRESSING TABLE

Mirror irror stand


If it is extremely damaged, it
might be worth having a be1;e/ed
mirror re-silvered. Your local
glazier should be able to
recommend a reliable company.

Drawers
These ha11e "show-
wood" fronts with
inexpensive backs
and sides. You can
disguise scratches
found around handles
(see page 19).
~---ll-l--le- Plywood back panel
Drawer runners - --f--+-----. A panel screwed to the side

r,iiiiltur==~~:::~~~
panels and rails. Plywood is
Withguides
and frame -and- particularly susceptible to
panel construction, woodworm (see page 156).
e11ery nmner requires
a drawer guide. - --ll-l--1--- Side panel
Slim framing houses a veneered-
Bracket plywood panel.
Brackets nailed to
legs and rails are .____--JI-l._ Dustboard
purely decorative and These panels, made of plywood,
contribute practically are easily replaced.
nothing to the
stability of the piece.
If missing, they are
easily replaced.
R EPAJJRH\'G CARCA,,E,
he carcass, also called the cabine t, is the actual Damaged tops
T storage " box," w hi ch may be enclosed by doors
or fitted w ith drawers, depending on its intended
The top of a chest of drawers or low cupboard ma y share
many of the problems conm1only associated with tablerops.
A solid- wood rop, for example, is normally constructed by
purpose. Traditionally constructed carcasses are very gluing several planks edge ro edge and, provided the rop is
strong and rarely suffer serious structural dam age in allowed ro expand or conu·acr withom restriction, th ese joints
remain pe1fectly sound. H owever, when a top has been
normal use, unless th ey are subj ected to extreme fastened rigidly, there is every chance that one or more of the
changes in humidi ty. The exceptions to this rule are butt joints will come apart. Dismantling a damaged rop and
those parts of the carcass that need repairing or regluing the joints is a relatively easy procedure (see page 111).
replacing because they have gradually been worn
1 R epairing a
down by the drawers sliding back and forth, or, to a molded edge
lesser extent, as a result of a relatively heavy door .rl broken edge is
putting undue strain on its hinges . very di~figuring and
shonld be repaired if
Patching chipped veneers at all possible. Glue
A great many cheaper storage th e broken piece in
items were nwde with tops of place inunediately,
veneered softwood. Un less they binding it with
are protected by solid edge lips, adhesive tape until
the vn/nemble veneers become th e glu e has ser.
chipped, exposing the sriftwood
gronndwork. Repair the 2 R emaking a
damage with patches of damaged edge
veneer (see page 119). vVherr wood is
missing, plane the
damaged section fiat
and square, then cut
a slightly oversized
replacement block .
Dealing with stained finishes Make sure the wood
Vario i·IS solrm1ts will etch stai11s matches the color and
into suiface finishes . A sideboard, grain direction of the
for example, may be covered with original wood.
white rings lift by alcohol or water
smeared on the base of a glass 3 Gluing and
or decanter. Similarly, many clamping
dressing tables are spoiled by spills Attach the glued
of nail varnis/1 or makeup. Try block with a sash
burnish ing out such stains with a clarup . If repairing
finish reviver (see page 19) . a missing comer,
clamp scrap wood
to th e side of the
carcass to prevent
th e block from
slidiug sideways .
Cleaning and
repairing marble
Being porous, marble stains easily 4 Shaping
and should be cleaned regularly to the repair
prevent it from absorbing dirt and Once the glu e has
grease. Wash a grimy marble top set, plane th e block
with a rnild solution rif ammonia flush, th en shape it
or use a pou ltice to lift a stubborn to match th e original
stain (see page 11 3) . A cracked molding. Use rasps,
marble top can be repaired files and sandpaper
successji<lly (see page 114). to shape a simple
molding, but use
go uges, chisels, or a
molding plane for
anything complicated.

136
CHESTS AND CABINETS: CARCASSES;._ _ __.

Repairing split side panels 2 Shaping a lath


Side panels made from solid wood , in particular, tend to reveal Cut a narrow !/ledge-
longitudinal splits where drawer runners are glued across the shape lath from
inner face, preventing the wood from shrinking naturally. matching wood, and
When movement is restricted at both ends, the forces exerted _file or plane bot/1
across the grain are capable of pulling o ne of the panel' s butt sides until it fits th e
j oints apart, resulting in a ga p running from top to bottom. In tapered slot in the
th eory, it is possible to dismantle the carcass to repair open · side panel. Glue the
butt joints, but this is an unnecessary an d potentially damaging lath, tap it into the
practice w hen it is possible to m ake repairs in situ . slot with a hammer,
and plane flush when
1 Enla rging the glu e has set.
a narrow split
A narrow tapering
split that fo llows th e
grain may be so
insignificant that it is
not worth repairing.
if you decide to go
a/1 ead, open up th e
split with the point of
a fine saw until it is Repairing and replacing back panels
lJJide enough to insert A back panel does more than prevent the contents from
a piece of veneer. spilling out of the back of a cupboard. Without it, the carcass
has little lateral stiffness and could be rocked from side to side,
thus loosening the joints, until the cupboard collapses. It is a
good idea to attend to loose or missing panels urgently.
On an older cupboard, the bac k panel will have been made
2 Inserting veneer from solid wood, altho ugh it may have been replaced w ith
Glu e a narrow strip plywood or M asonite at som e later date. It is normally
rif veneer into the screwed or nailed into a rabbet all around or fastened directly
split. if necessary, to the back edges of the carcass.
plane or sand down a A wide panel may be made in two halves, separated by a
sl(ghtly thicker lath grooved muntin, similar to those used to support drawe r
to fi t a wide split. bottoms (see page 141).
Wl1 en th e glue has
set, plane or scrape R emoving
the veneer.fiush and a back panel
disguise the repair When replacing a
with colored wood panel, remo ve the
dye and polish . screws or tap it out
from inside with a
hammer, using a
softwood block to
spread the load and
1 P reparing prevent the panel
an open joint from splitting. Pull
Niake a mild-steel out any old nails
hook scraper to clean with pincers bifore
old glu e from both fitting a new panel.
edges of the open
joint. if you file the
hook to a slight
taper, it will shape
both sides of th e slot,
and 111akes a snug fit
for th e lat!J that will
be inserted at the
next stage.

137
CHESTS AND CABIN ETS : CARCA SSES

Feet and plinths Draw er runners and rails


Plinths and feet are invariably scuffed and dented where they Whenever a drawe r sti cks or jams, take a close look
have been kicked and struck by brooms, carpet sweepers, and
vac uum cleaners over the yea rs, but most of us are content to
at its supporting rails and runners. O ne can almost
live with these minor blemishes . However, when feet have guarantee that these elements will be worn to som e
been lost or completely destroyed by woodwo rm or rot, yo u extent, due to persistent rubbing by the bottom
ha ve no other choice but to make an exact replica. edges of the drawers . In particular, softwoo d
T urned foot runners may be scored by deep grooves that extend
Turned bun -shape feet are righ t across th e transverse drawer rails. The extent
plugged into a fra me or into the of the damage will determine w hether yo u can
bottom rif the carcass . Someti111es
the foot is attached by a coarse- repair the original components, or w hether it wo uld
threaded peg. Copy one of the be better to replace them altogether.
remaining fee t or tum fo ur new
ones on a lathe. How rails and runners are fitted
The way drawer runners and rails are fitted will de termine
yo ur approac h to repairing and replacing them. The examples
shown below show rypical m ethods of construction .

B racket fo ot
This type offoot comprises two
bracket-shape pieces of wood
mitered at th e corner. It is
attached with screws and possibly DRAWER RAIL

glu ed blocks to a molded frame, or


directly to the underside of the •
cabinet. Trace the outline onto a
cardboa rd ternplate and cut out
replacement brackets, using a
coping saw.

Applied bracket
A simple cutout bracket is
sometimes nailed and glued to Solid wood construction
the leg and bottom rail of a The transverse drawer rail is tenoned into a solid-wood side panel and
frame -and-panel cabinet. A split is grooved on the inside to take the dustboard. Each drawer runner is
bracket can be repaired with glu e, fitted into a shallow groove cut across tfJe side panel; a small tenon on
or you can make a replica as the front of the runnerfits into the dustboard groove in the rail. There
described above. is a similar groove on the inside of the ru nner. Sliding the dustboard
in from the back of th e cabinet holds the runner firmly in its groove.

DR.>, \VER RAIL

DUSTBOARD

Screwed runner
Runners should never be glu ed across the side panel, but they are
B ox p linth often fastened with a single screw near the back . A screw slot in the
Plinths are usually crudely made, being held together by a number of runner allows for movement across the side panel. Although they are
glu ed blocks. To replace a damaged component, dislodge the blocks by someti111es grooved into the side panel as described above, run ners
driving a chisel behind th em. fastened with screws can be attached to a plain panel.
CHESTS AND CABINETS: CARCASSES

Fitting drawer stops


Witho ut drawer stops, there is nothing to prevent a drawe r
from slamming into the bac k panel, eventually splitting the
w ood or dislodging the panel. Drawer stops also serve to keep
all the dra we rs aligned nea tly w ith the face of the cabinet.

1 Marking th e
drawer stop
Set a marking ga uge
to the thickness of the
drawerfront. A llow
Frame-and-panel construction for any moldings that
Runnersfas tened with screws are also fo und in af rame-and-panel project beyond the
carcass. However, the sideframe is unlikely to shrink across its width, cabinet f ace, and
so a screw slot is unnecessary. An additional length if u;ood, the drawer mark the f ront edge
guide, is screwed to the runner to keep the dra wer ru nning straight. of the stop on the
rail. Fit a single stop
Double runner centrally for a short
A wide runner is drawer, and one
used to support two about 3 inches
narrow drawers in the (7 5mm) from each
middle. A length if end of a wide rail.
wood screwed to the GUIDE

runner keeps the


drawers apart. A
central nmner may be
supported at th e back
by a vertical post (see
page 132) or held in 2 Gluing the stop
place by nails through
the back panel on
.vlake a new stop
from Y. inch (6mm) -----
Ii
inexpensive cabinets. plywood, and glue it
to the rail. Sq ueeze
Side-run drawers out excess glue by
Instead of being rubbing the stop from
supported fro m below, side to side, fina lly
some dra wers are aligning the front
side-run- slots in edge of the stop with
th e drawer sides the marked line.
are fitted over the
runners. Although
this is often tho ught
to be a relatively
modern method if
constru ction, side-run 3 Securing with
drawers were used fin ishing nails
as long ago as the Ca rifully insert the
seventeenth century. drawer to check that

--
it fits peifectly, then
Side-run trays fas ten the stop with
A s a variant, a two fin ishing nails.
runner f astened to Wip e off traces
the dra wer sometimes ofglue with a
runs in a groove cut damp cloth .
across the side panel.
Th is system is used
to support shallow
trays behind the
doors if a clothes
press (see page 133).
_ _ _ _C
..;..H ESTS AND CABINETS: CARCASSES

Replacing drawer runners 2 Cutting


Wormed , split or exceptionally worn runners should be the recess
removed and used as patterns for m aking new ones. Even if Saw across the rail,
the original runners were made from softwood, it is a good fo llouJing th e marked
idea to use hardwood for the replace ments. line, th en pare out
the waste witlt a
Swappittg rtmtters bevel-edge chisel to
Provided the wood is fon n a neat dove-
sound, try swapping tailed recess. R efit
the drawer runners the drawer ntmier.
at opposite sides of
the cabinet. R e111ove
th e back panel and
screws, th en tap a
chisel under the end 3 Fitting
of each rrtnner to the patch
dislodge it. Tum the Glue and insert a
ntnners over and refit slightly oversized
thent with th e worn patch, giving it a
side face down. tap with a hammer
iVIake sure th e dust- to make a sn ug fit.
board grooves align. Cla111p it in place
until the glu e sets,
Repairittg side- then plane and
rtm trays pare th e patch flush
Slidittg trays with with th e drawer rail.
worn ntnners will fa ll
upott each oth er until
the whole set drops to
the bottom of tlte
cabinet. Either uail
new runners to th e
trays or increase the Replacing dustboards
nttming suifaces by D ustboards that hold drawer runners in their grooves are
nailing and gluing a obviously essential items (see page 138), but, in many cases, a
nwlded lengths of chest will perform perfectly well without them. However, fin e
hardwood just below wood dust fro m wea ring runners trickles into the drawer
each groove in the below, so it is best to replace dustbaards, if only to keep the
side panels. contents clean. Additionally, in som e cases, dus tboards are
security measures, because they prevent anyone from gaining
R epairing drawer rails access to a locked drawer by removing the one above.
After removing runners for repair, take the opportunity to
insert a patch of ma tching wood at each end of the drawer rail. Ittsertittg
new boards
1 Marking out Cut new du stboards
the recess from plywood and,
Mark out th e depth after removing the
of th e recess by back panel, slide
scribing a line 011 the them Jro tn behind
front edge of th e rail, into the grooves in
just below th e notch the rails and ru nners.
wom in the wood.
Then mark a liue
across the rail to
rep resent th e edge of
the recess, which
should taper slightly
fiwn front to back .
The wt itself sh01-tld
be at an angle cif
about 60 degrees to
fomt a dovetail.

140
~
CHESTS AND CABINETS: DRAW R"'S""-----'
E""

R lEPAilRING DRA\VEIR§
A typical drawer found in most old cabinets will be figure, or at least faced w ith a superior-quality
constru cted from solid wood throughout and made hardwood veneer. The drawer bottom was slid
w ith dovetail joints at each corner. Country from the rear into narrow grooves cut on the inside
furniture and inexpensive chests, in general, were of the drawer- or into slip moldings glued to the
fi tted with softwo od drawers, w h ereas hardwood front and sides- and was nailed or screwed to the
was used for better-quality work. The drawer front underside of the drawer back. Glue was never used
was nearly always cut from wood with an attractive to secure drawer bottoms.

DovETAILED DRAWER D rawer back


This is slightly narrower than
D rawer side the sides to allow th e bottom
Rabbeted dovetails, to be slid into place.
hidden when the
drawer is closed,
join the drawer side
to the drawer front.
Through dovetails
are used at the back. _ __,_:----------"-~.-----.uraw•er bottom
Drawer sides are TVh en wt from solid
invariably wom. wood, th e grain ntns
across the drawer so
that shrinkage ocwrs

~
from front to back .
Th e bottom is nailed
or screwed to th e edge
of the drawer back.
Always check drawer
Grooved drawer botton1s for signs of
sides and front woodworm itifestation
A beveled, solid-wood (see page 15 6).
drawer bottom is held in
narrow grooves .

' - - - - - - - -- - D rawer front


FULL-WIDTH The top edge is sometimes chipped, either

C
because the wntents became jammed
<:::-. ... DRAWER between the drawer and the rail above, or
: because a locked drawer has been forced
(see pages 153and 155).

Slip molding ·
As an alternative to
cutting grooves for the
drawer bottom, slip
moldings are glued to
the front and sides.

'-------::>::::'i#'~..- Muntin
Th e bottom pa11el of
a wide drawer is
made in two or more
muntin sections, joined by
A muntin is grooved 11'/lllltins,
sometimes dovetailed which nmfromfront
into drawerfront. to back. Tl1 ey are
tenoned into th e
groove in th e drawer
front and fastened to
the back with scre1vs.
CHESTS AND CABINETS: DRAWERS

Curing a sticking drawer 2 R ebuilding


Extrem ely wo rn runners and missing drawe r guides w ill cause the edges
a drawe r to jam , and the o nly way to cure this is to m ake the Clue a strip of wood
necessary repairs. On the other hand , a little maintenance may 011 each planed edge,
be aU that is required to restore smooth running. flu sh with the inner
face of the drawer
1 Waxing side. When the glue
running surfaces has set, plane each
R emove the drawer strip fl ush with the
and look for shiny outside face.
patches where the
drawer is rubbing.
Before attempting
furt her repairs, rub a
white candle across
these areas and also
along the bottom 3 Marking
edges of the drawer. the width
W ax the dra wer Set a marking ga uge
runners and guides to the width cif the
at the same time. drawer sides. Score a
line along each strip,
2 Skimming parallel to the top
with a plane edge of the drawer
Jj wax ing does not side. Plane down to
cure the problem, this line on both
skim the rubbed sides of the drawer.
patches with a very
fi nely set smoothing
plane. Take care not
to remove too much
wood, or the drawer
will be slack and Refitting drawer bottoms
may j am even more. Because a drawer bottom is o nly fastened along its bac k edge,
any appreciable shrinkage tends to pull it out of the groove or
m olding along the draw er front . Being unsupported, the
bottom then bows under the w eight of the contents and gets
trapped behi nd the draw er rail.
Remaking drawer sides
In m ost cases, the m ain reason w hy an old drawe r sticks o r
runs poorly is that the bottom edges are extremly worn.
W eight concentrates fri ction towa rd the back of a drawe r,
and the wear gets progressively wo rse tow ard th e back
corners. T his is sometim es evident w ith the drawers closed,
w hen the drawe r fron ts appear to slope backwa rd.

1 Planing
the edges
Plane a square edge,
sloping toward the
back comer on each
side of the drawer.

R epositioning the bottom panel


R emove the fastenings holding the bottom panel to the drawer back.
D rive the nails right through the panel with a nail punch if necessary.
Tap the panel forward into the groove, using a softwood block and
hammer, then refasten to the drawer back.
CHESTS AND CABINETS: DRAWERS

Repairing a split panel


As it is such a slim panel, a drawe r bottom will split readily if it
is glu ed or nailed into any of the grooves. Provided the split
edges are still clean , it should be possible to make an invisible
repair by regluing the panel.
If the tw o parts of a split panel are wa rped, wet them and
place a heavy w eight on top until they are flat enough to be
glued together.

4 R einforcing the joint


Jj you are unable to make a perfect joint, reinforce the repair with a
strip of canvas glued to the underside of the drawer bottom.

Replacing drawer bottoms


If a drawe r bottom is beyond repair, make a replacement from
plywood or m edium-de nsity fi berboard (MDF).
1 Laying p rotective strips
Glue and join the split edges, wipe off surplus glue, then cover the 1 Making the
split on each side with a strip cif plastic. bottom panel
Choose a board that
fits the grooves cut in
the drawer-should
it be necessary, plane
a very shallow bevel
along the edges on
the underside of a
slightly thicker board.

2 Applying c clamps
Sandwich the split between stout lengths and hold them in
place with a pair of C clamps, placing one at each end. 2 Fitting the
bottom panel
Slide the panel into
place, and then
secure it to the drawer
back with small
countersunk screws.

3 Closing the sp tt
Bifore you f ully tighten the clamps, slip grooved lengths cif wood over
the long edges cif the panel and close up the split, using sash clamps.
Make sure the bottom panel is not bowed, then allow the glue to set.
R EPAIRK:L\'G DOORS
he way cupbo ard doors were m ade mirrors the Al though flu sh doors have been m ade since the
T ge neral m etho ds of carcass constru ction .
Fram e- and-panel doors, fo r example, resemble a
introduction of veneering, they are m ore often
ass ociated w ith twentieth- century furniture.
carcass end panel, wi th an outer frame infilled w ith Originally, the veneer was laid over solid- wood
a thin board cut from solid wood. Wide doors are boards glued edge to edge, but the availability of

:·v
often divided by muntins and som etimes horizo ntal stable m an-made boards subsequently led to the
rails to prevent a large door panel from shrinking. grea ter use of flu sh doo rs.

Frame-and- HAUNC HED MORTISE- - - - - - . A DOWEL PEG PULLS THE


Di11ided frame-
panel door AND-T ENON TEN0:--1 SECURELY INTO and-panel door
THE MORTI SE
This type of A si111ilarly
cupboard door is constructed door
made with mortise- with a vertical
and-tenon joints that 1nt111tin that divides
may be reinforced the panel i11 two.
with dowel pegs. The
panel is held loosely
in grooves cut around
the inside of the e-\1-11----1-lJ...- + - VERTICAL MUNTINS
DIV IDE WIDE DOORS
frame . The door
shown here is fitted
with a raised-and- RA ISED-AND-F IELDED
fie lded panel. PANE L MADE FR OM
SO LI D WOOD

Integral
moldings
Th e inner edge of
the fram e is usually
molded. On this
door, the molding Muntin
is cut on the edge This isfastened to the
ofthejrallling itself railu1ith a 111ortise-
and-te11on joint.

Rabbeted frame
Alternatively, the
HO LD PAN EL
panel is held inside a
IN RABBETS
rabbeted jrm11e by a
small "bead" nailed
Applied
moldings
or screwed on the
As an altern ative, inside--the panel is
moldings are glued fitted rifier th e frame
to the fra me. has been assembled.

Flat panel
Panels that present a
fiat face to the outside " - - - - - - - THIN PLYWOOD PANEL

of a wpboard are
often fielded on the
inside; th ey are made
with a shallow bevel
on all fo ur sides.

JL 44
CHESTS AND CABINETS: DOORS

Solid-wood SOLID-WOOD LIP Sticking doors


flush door GLUED ACROSS
C upb oard doors stick for a variety of reasons.
TO P AND BOTTOM
Softwood boards,
glued edge to edge,
Perhaps the furniture has been stored in damp
BOARD GLUED
are veneered on both EDGE T O EDGE conditions so that the wood has swollen; in this
sides. The grain case, drying it out naturally in a warm environment
direction is reversed is all that is needed to cure the problem . It could
deliberately on
alternate boards to also be that the furniture is no t standing level, and
counter any tendency the door is j anm1ed in a tw isted carcass. T ry lifting
for th e door to warp. one corner of the cabinet to see if it improves the
However, solid-wood
lips, applied to hide situation-if this appears to work, slip a packing
th e gra i11, are often piece under the raised foot. M ore importantly,
apparent beneath ensure the door is no t ha nging from a loose hinge.
th e veneer if the
door shrinks across Tightening loose screws
its width. Lift the door by the closing or lock stile, and inspect the
hinges fo r any sign of mo ve m ent. Yo u m ay find that hinge
T H ICK VENEER. ON screws have worked loose and that tightening them w ith a
BO TH SIDES OF DOOR
screwdriver is eno ugh to prevent the door fron1 sticking.
H owever, if the screws have pulled out of the wood, you
will have to plug the holes so that the screw threads grip.
Battened door
A simple flush door
111adejro111 boards
joined with tongue-
and-groove joints .
Battens are screwed
across the inside
to hold the boards
togeth er and keep
the door fiat. 1 Inserting plugs
Whittle tapered plugs
TONGUE-AND- from slim do wel a11d
GROOVE BOARDS ~
glue them i11to each
stripped screw hole.
BATTENS
SLOTTED FOR
WOOD SCREWS

2 Trimmingjlush
When the glue has
Man-made board set, trim the plugs
Plywood and other flush ~vith a chisel,
11/a/1 -lllade boards are then drill pilot holes
ideal for making flush and rifit th e screws.
doors. Th e veneer
around th e edge of
th e door is vulnerable
(see page 119) .

NARROW LIPS
PROTECT EDGES OF
MAN-MADE BOARD

PLYWOOD PANEL ----+---~1*----

VENEER COVERS PAN EL ---1-iW---tHtff----n..


AND LIP

145
CHESTS AND CABINETS: DOORS

Repairing split wood Correcting swollen do o rs


On examining the carcass or door stile, yo u may discover that If there seems no obvious reason why the door is sticking, the
the wood has split along the line of the screw holes, making it best option is to skim it ve ty lightly with a finely set plane.
impossible to tighten the screws.
1 C hecking
Gluing the split for binding
Take the door off its Look for signs if
hinges and work glu e miffing or shiny
into the split with the patches along the
blade of a knife . Use door edges and on
a C clamp to close the carcass to find
the split, removing just where the door
excess glue with a is binding . !f you are
damp cloth. When still not sure, slip a
the glue has set, piece of notepaper
remove the C clamp between the door and
and rifzt the hinge. carcass until you can
f eel where th ey touch.

2 Skimming
with a p latte
P atching a broken stile or side panel Clamp the door in a
When a piece of w ood has broken away from the door bench vise and skim
edge or carcass side panel, insert a patch to provide a strong on.ly those patches
fas tening point for the hinge. that show signs of
abrasion . !f the door
1 Marking out is veneered on the
Mark out a dove- edge, you will have
tailed dado for to remove wood from
the patch, retaining the hinge stile. This
as much if the is a relatively tricky
original hinge operation that may
recess as possible. involve rifztting the
hinge leaves.

Split door panels


It is important that a solid-wood panel is free to move . If it is
inadvertently glued or nailed into .place, the wood may split;
and should the panel shrink, a butt joint may pull apart .
With a rabbeted frame, yo u can unscrew or pry off the
beads and reglue the panel as described fo r a drawer bottom
(see page 143). If the panel is held in grooves, yo u can insert a
strip of veneer or a narrow length of wood into the split (see
page 137). H owever, it may also be possible to pull the two
2 R ebuilding halves of the panel together without dismantling the frame.
the corner
R ebuild the missing C losing a split
comer with a glued w ith clamps
patch . When the glue Before inserting glue,
has set, plane the clamp C clamps to
patch flu sh on both both halves of the
sides and recut the panel at the top and
hinge recess. Replace bottom of the door.
any moldings (see Protect the wood with
pages 152-53). softwood blocks. Use
sash clamps to pull
the C clamps toward
each other, gradually
closing the gap in the
panel. !f this works,
glue the split and
repeat th e procedure.

]_46
..__ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _CHESTS AND CABINETS: DO....O'-'R..;.;S;....__ __

Doors that won't close


T o keep forcing a door shut w hen it insists on Som ewhat more difficult to ascertain is w hether
springing open w ill eventually do harm, either the leaves of one or both hinges have been set too
ripping out screws or even splitting wood around deeply into the woo d. C heck by closely scrutinizing
the hinges. Check the hinges first to see w hether the hinge knu ckles as yo u close the door-if you
one or more screws have wo rked loose-the can see either hinge fl exing out of its recess, it
protruding heads m ay be preventing the door should be packed out to allow it to close sm oothly
closing properly. Alternatively, over-large screws w ithout putting strain on the screws, and thereby
m ay have been substituted and need replacing. the surrounding woo d.
Replacing oversize screws Curing warped doors
R eplacing loose screws wi th slightly larger ones avoids having No amo unt of tinkering with the hinges is going to encourage
to plug the stripped holes in the wood. U nfo rtunately, the a wa rped door to stay closed and , to be realistic, there is no t a
oversize screw heads no longer fit the countersunk holes in great deal yo u can do to resolve the situation, except to rely
the leaf and prevent the hinge closing properly. on a lock or strong catch. You could try soaking the concave
sur£1ce of a flu sh door, in the hope tha t it can be clamped fla t,
Flattening the but the chances of long-term success are slim. It may be
hinge leaf possible to correct a warped frame- and-panel doo r, but this is
R emove th e hinge only worth attempting if the frame bows inward so that repairs
and plug the screw can be made to the back of the door.
holes with tapered Before you begin, check that the work is feasible by looking
plugs (see page 145) . along the stiles and rails to see how many are actually bowed,
Continuously forcing and by how much . If you discover tha t the disto rtion is
th e door to close may confined to the one comer, for example, yo u ma y decide to
have bent the hinge tackle the job yo urself; if it is worse than that, it might be
leaf i11 which case wiser to pay an expert to do the wo rk.
ha111111er it .fiat on a
metal vice bifore you
replace the hinge with
th e correct screws .

Refitting a deep-set
Insert packing behind the hinge leaf until it lies flu sh with th e
su rrounding wood. 1 Clamping the work
Us ing C clamps, clamp th e door facedown on th e comer of your
Inserting packing workben.ch. i\llake sure th e bench is absolutely .fiat by co1!eri11g the top
Cut a strip of card or suiface with a sheet of plywood or particleboard.
veneer to fit the hinge
recess and, using th e
hinge leaf as a
template, punch holes
thro ugh the packing
for th e screws . Fit the
middle screw on ly to
check that the door
operates satiifactorily,
then screw the leaf I
z==x '

securely in its recess.

2 nserting patches
i\llark out a tapered and do vetailed recess across th e stile (and possibly
th e adjoining rail) in order to relieve th e stresses in rhe 1vood. Tap a
glu ed patch of 111atching i\l[asonite into each recess. Do not release the
clamps until th e glu e has set, then plane th e patches flu sh on all sides.
CHESTS AND CABINETS: GLAZED DOORS

Glazed doors
Whatever their social status, past gen erati ons tended vulnerable. Even the slightes t accident ca n result in
to accumulate all m anner of glass and china one or m ore broke n glass pan es and, unless you are
ornam ents, proudly displaying their collections in extrem ely lucky, at least minor dam age to the
glazed cabinets. Display cabinets were m ade in huge delicate woo dwork.
quantities, from exquisitely m ade examples that Similarly constructed glazed do ors were fitted to
have since becom e collectors' item s in their ow n bureau cabinets and bookcases . However, because
right, to inexpensive m ass-produced furniture for their prime fun ction was to protect the contents
the aspiring middle classes. from dust, large transparent pan es were not essential,
The n ature of display cabinets, w ith their tracery and the do ors were often m ade w ith decorative
of fine wo oden glazing bars , m akes them highly leaded glass panes, using colored and textured glass.
Door construction GLAZED DOOR
T h e outer frame of a glazed FROM A DISPLAY
door m ay be constructed fro m CABINET
solid hardwood or, at the Mainframe
ch eaper end of the m arket, The main frame of
from softwood faced with veneered softwood
crossbanded ve neers. T he has l·1aunched
glazing bars inva riably mortise-and-tenon
comprise two parts: a joints at the corners .
deco rative m olding glued
onto the edge of a flat strip .
In the maj o riry of cases, the
glazing bars desc ribe simple
geom etric patterns. W h ere
they cross, the flat strips are
j oined w ith lap j oints; at other
intersections, glazi ng bars are
butted together, using m iters.
Particularly delicate joints are .......~- Glazing bar
reinforced with glued linen. A fi at strip held in a
The ends of the flat wooden notch in the frame.
strips fi t into small no tches cut Mo lding, glu ed to Glazed doors often incorporate
into the m ain doo r fram e. the fro nt edge, forms decorative motifs
Glass panes are held in the rabbets on both sides .
rabbets w ith fine pins and
putry, or w ith delicate
wooden beading. Curved glass
The glass is secured
with small headless
nails, known as i
I
m ay be used in better-qualiry "sprigs" or "glazier's I

bow-fronted cabinets, but


m ost bowed doors are glazed
w ith sm all flat panes.
points," and putty.
Or a wooden beading
is used.
l
) ~]~

Miter joints
Strips cifglued linen Lead cames
are used to reinforce The relatively small panes of
miter joints where glass surrounded by H- section
Lap joint glazing bars are "cames" of lead are known as
A lap joint is used where the fiat butted end to end. leaded glass panes. The joints
strips cross. between cames are soldered.
CHESTS AND CABINETS: GLAZED DOORS

T y pes of glass Cutting glass


Most display cabinets are glazed with Y.. inch (2mm) transparent Make a cardboard template that fits bet\veen the glazing bars,
glass the type used when framing pictures. A panel ofleaded allowing a slight tolerance to ensure the glass will slip into
glass is often a combination of clear, colored, and sometimes place easily. It is best to have complicated shapes cut by a
textured glass. You may have to obtain matching glass from glazier, but yo u can cut simple straight-sided panes yo urself.
specialized stained-glass suppliers listed in craft magazines .
1 C leaning
Removing broken glass the g lass
Take the door off its hinges and lay it on a bench. Wearing Lay a bla11ket over
strong gloves and goggles, remo ve any beads holding the yo11r workbench and
broken glass in place , or gently rock the remaining shards back place the glass fiat
and forth to loosen old putty. 011 top. Wipe the
s111jace, 11sing
Clearing denatured alcohol
the rabbets to rei/love any
Chop o11t th e last fingerprints and
renlllallts ofglass and traces ofgrease.
p11tty, 11sing an old
cl1isel. lf tl1e p11tty is
so hard that there is 2 Scoring the g lass
a risk of damage to Usi11g the template
the .flimsy glazing as a g11ide, place a
bars, first try using a woode11 straightedge
heated soldering iron alo11g the line of the
to softm it. Remove wt. Holdi11g a glass
sprigs with pliers. wtter between yo11r
index and middle
fingers, dip the tip of
the tool in light oil,
the11 score the glass
from edge to edge
with one contin11o11s
stroke toward yo11.

3 P rop agating
the cut
Slide the glass 1111til
it overhangs the
workbe11ch. Propagate
the wt by tapping
the wtter 011 the
1111derside of the glass,
directly beneath the
scored lin e.

4 Snapping
the g lass
Placi11g a tlnunb 011
each side of th e scored
lin e, Sllap th e glass
in two with a twist
of yo11r wrists.
= O""
CHESTS AND CABINETS: GLAZE,D'-'D "--- - - - - -
O"'R""S

Inserting a new pane Repairing glazing bars


Secure a new pane with beading, or prepare a ball of linseed Whenever you have to replace broken glass, it pays to inspect
oil putty by kneading it to a soft , even consistency. You can the glazing bars for signs of damage. The woodwo rk may have
adjust the color of the putty by mixing in blac k grate polish or been sufficiently resilient to absorb the blow to the glass, but
touches of artists' oil paint. by gently fl exing the bars yo u may reveal splits that are not
immediately appa rent.
Fitting tlt e glass
Lay th e new pane in Gluing and
th e rabbets, then tap reilifo rcing a split
sprigs in to the wood, g lazing bar
using the side of your Open the split
chisel. Press putty slightly by applying
into the rabbets to geiiTie pressure to th e
cover th e sprigs, th en front of th e glazing
shape it with a putty bar, and bmsh so111e
knife to fori// shallow glu e into it. Cl11111p
bevels. Dip the blade th e split closed, using
in water from tinte a sl//a/1 C cla111p, or
to time, s111ooth the bind the bar with
putty, and f orm adhesive tape.
neat corners . Clean R einforce ti1e repair
any s111ears fro Ill by gluing a snw/1
the glass with strip of linen on each
denatu red alcohol. side of th e bar.

Repairing damaged leaded glass


A severely damaged leaded panel can be rebuilt completely, R emove the screws, or pry off the beads that hold the
but recreating sec tio ns with new cames is beyond the leaded panel in the doo r frame. Lift the panel carefull y out of
capability of the inexperienced amateur restorer. Get a qu ote its rabbets and, holding it ve rtically to avoid bending the lead,
from professional stained-glass artists wo rking in your area. carry it to your w orkbench and lay it facedo w n. W earing
H owever, provided the shapes are not too intricate, you may protective gloves and goggles, rem ove any remaining shards by
wish to replace one or two pieces of broken glass yo urself. picking them out of the cam es with a penknife.

1 Cutting 3 Inserting tlte


tlte corners new g lass
Using a sh111p craft Trap the 11ew piece of
knife, slice the lead glass in the cames by
at each comer to open mbbing the flanges
up tile soldered joint. fiat with a pointed
strip of wood. It
sho uld be possible to
111ake neat joints
without having to
resolder them .

4 Adding putty
Color a s111all ball of
linseed-oil putty by
2 Opening 111ixing it wirh some
tlte cames black fire -grate
Tape the jaws of a polish. Use your
small pair cif pliers, ti111111bs to pack putty
and use them to open into the ca1nes all
th e carn es by bending round the 11ew pane
back the flanges. ofglass 011 both sides
Take care not to of the door. R emove
crease the lead, or excess putty with the
it 111ig ht prove strip cif wood, then
impossible to flatten bntsh across the
th e fla nges again . ca111es with a shoe
brush to consolidate.

150
CHESTS AND CABINETS: MOLDINGS

RlEPAIRJ~G AN[) JRJESTORJ1 'G )10LDJXGS


oldings are one of the main features that Moldings were frequently used to disguise the
M distinguish old furniture from modern mass-
produced products. It w ould appear that to leave an
effects of movem ent on the appearance of doors,
drawers, and panels. Linear moldings, for example,
edge or corner unworked was unacceptable to co uld be used to cover any gaps that might result
cabinetm akers of the past; they we re accustom ed to from shrinkage, or at least serve to draw one's
applying some form of decoration to improve visual attention away from them. The practice was so
proportions, not only to the better- quality pieces, w idespread that, except for when w orking on the
but also to furniture that must have been considered very simplest and plai nest of country furniture,
at the time to be run- of-the-mill m erchandise. sooner or later you w ill find it necessary to restore
However, there were also more prac tical reasons. broken or missing m oldings.

Cock beads
Small moldings are
applied to each edge
of a drawer f ront.

Antique molding planes and


a homemade scratch stock

Types of molding
Although tradition wo uld have suggested w h ere moldings
should be used and approximately w hat form they should take,
each furniture maker wo uld decide j ust how to apply a
particular m olding. D epending on the scale and location, Narrow beading by
moldings were either nude as an integral part of a component, a dovetail joint.
or were made separately and applied later.
Cross-grain
moldings
Edge moudings are
partially covered
by veneer.

Integral moldings
J\!Iolding planes were once essential tools in every workshop. Som e
were reserved for creating only specific moldings, for example, along the
edge of a seiVing top. Others, such as "rounds" and "hollows," were Closing beadingfor doors Applied door moldings
used in combination to create practically any simple molding.
Very small moldings were often fanned by scraping along the edge App lied moldings
of a component, using a scratch stock, a crude homemade tool The technique cif applying at least partly prefabricated moldings ciffered
incorporating a piece of steel filed to the required shape. As well as certain advantages to the cabinetmaker. As with veneers, applied
being versatile and inexpensive to make, a scratch stock could be ~1 sed moldings made economical ~1 se of expensive hardwoods, and because
on curved workpieces as easily as straight ones. Consequently, simple moldings are made from separate pieces of wood, there was no
scratch moldings were applied to all manner of components, jro111 restriction on grain direction, thus open ing the way fo r attractive
WIVed chair legs and back rests to drawer fiwtts and doors. cross-grain moldings.
CHESTS AND CABINETS: MOLDINGS

1 One-piece backed molding Replacing small integral moldings


2 Co111posite 1110!ding Most modem cabinetmakers employ power routers when
3 Co111posite molding u;ith cutting new moldings, but it is not alw ays possible to match
cross-grain IJeneer a standard cutter to an already existing profile. H owever,
4 Composite molding provided the shape is not unduly complex, you can use a
with fretted dentils homemade scratch stock to reproduce any small molding
on a replacement rail, for example, or to integrate a patch
in a molded edge.

1 Making a
scratch stock
1Hake th e m tterf rom
an old hacksaw
blade, shaping it
roughly on a
grindstone, th en
f iling th e reverse
slwpe of th e actual
n10/ding on th e
wtting edge. Clamp
th e finished w tter
bet;,,een t1110 shaped
pieces of ply111ood
scre111ed togeth er to
fori// the stock .

2 Shaping the
work .first
Bifore you use the
sera tch stock, remove
as much waste as
possible from the
workpiece with a
plane or chisel.

3 Using the
scratch stock
With the f ence held
.finuly against the
ll'ork, lean the scratch
stock m11ay fro m you
at a sligl1t angle and
Composite m push th e tool in th e
Som e moldill,5COmice moldings, for exa111ple-were often too lmge sm11e direction.
and intricate to be made in one piece; it is easy to appreciate the Gradually scrape
physicaliffort required to plane wide 111oldings in one operation. It is au;ay the wood until
theoretically possible to rnake such a u10lding fron1 a single piece of tl1e stock comes to
wood, working it section by section with different molding planes . rest against th e work,
However, it is easier to constmct intricate 1110!dings from a nu1nber of prCilenting the wtter
different, separately molded pieces of wood. The con111'1011 practice was f rom biting any
to glue hardwood sections onto a softwood base, which was often partly deeper into the work.
!Jeneered, especially 1vhw eros-banding u;as required. With a
composite 1110/ding, it was also possible to incorporate fretwork as
additional decoration.
CHESTS AND CABINETS: MOLDINGS

Reproducing applied moldings Mak ing cross-


The cock beading applied to drawer fronts are typical of the grain moldings
sort of applied moldings you might need to repair or To replace 111issing
reproduce from time to tim e. The n10lding along the top cross-grain cock
edge, for example, can become crushed or broken if the beading, first glue a
drawer is slammed shut while some of th e contents are very slim band of
hanging out. The short length of cock beading applied to cross-grain "show
each side can also become detached and lost. wood" to a strip of
If possible, repair a broken molding with a glued patch hardwood, u1ith the
that can be shaped in place. H owever, if you need to grain ntnllillg
reproduce a new length of molding, don 't attempt to lengthways. After
work a very slim section of wood . It is £1r easier to cut the fon11i11g the shape
molding on the edge of a larger pi ece of wood and saw it with a beading
off w hen the shaping is fini shed. plane, or possibly a
scratch srock, saw the
fi nished molding off
th e edge of the strip.

Carved moldings
Eve n w hen a great deal of furniture was made by hand,
woodcarving was still considered to be a specialist trade. When
carved wo rk was required, it was usual for a cabinetmaker to
prepare the work and to then hand it over to a woodcarver for
completion. Considering the intricacies of woodcarving and
th e number of specialized tools required, it makes sense to
fo llow the same procedures when reproducing missing or
dan'laged carving on a piece of furniture.
Make sure the piece of wood yo u use is large enough to
encompass the size of th e ca rved motif yo u require. However,
Patching a broken cock bea ing that does not necessarily mean that the whole component has
Cut out the damaged section of molding to leave a dovetailed notch to be cut from a single piece of wood. Very often a separate
which is wider towards the inside of th e drawer. Glue and insert a piece of wood, perhaps already catved roughly to shape, is
slightly oversized tapered patch, clamping it in th e notch u11til the glued onto the body of the wo rk, then finally shaped with
adhesive has set. Finally, plane the patch flush and shape the chisels and gouges.
molding with a scratch stock and sandpaper.
Repairing
damaged carving
It is not too diffiwlt
to recreate a small
piece of carving that
has broken off Plane
the damaged section
fiat and "rub -joint"
a glued piece of wood
onto it by applying
glu e to both suifaces
and then rubbing
th em together to
sq ueeze glu e and air
out of th e joint as
you align th e pieces .
When th e glue has
set firmly, shape the
patch to blend in
Replacing a detached molding with th e surrounding
vVhen a drawer front shrinks across its width, the mitered cock beading work. A beginner
at th e top and bottom tend to bow the slim side moldings . R e111ove the 111ig ht find it easier to
side moldings and trim thern at each end until th ey fit snugly again , shape the wood with
then reglue and tape them in place until the adhesive sets. Jj a a file bifore resorting
molding is missing, reproduce a new length as described above. to chisels and go uges .

153
CHESTS AND CABINETS: HARDWARE
~---------'

C A Blt\'E T H ARD\YARE
o an experienced eye , the wrong handles can Having identified clu es to the type and position
T ruin the appearance of a cabinet and may even
reduce its value. Specialists can date a set of handles
of the original handles, you still have to decide
whether authentic restoration is advisable. It is
precisely, but you don 't need expert knowledge to debatable whether there is any point in fitting new
detect holes where handles of another style were turned knob s, for example , if it results in unsightly
once fitted. There is every chance that these holes patches on each drawer front . It may be preferable
will have been plugged and even covered with to live with the present set of handles, although
veneer, but only a perfectionist will have bothered they may not be entirely authentic. On the other
to disguise traces of the work on the inside of a hand, you might be able to cover a plugged hole
drawer. Alternatively, you may be able to discern w ith the back plate of a metal cabine t handle. In
slight indentations in the old finish , indicating the the end, only you , as the owner and restorer, can
previous position of a shaped back plate. make the final decisions.
Tightening loose handles
Secure loose m etal handles before their bolts begin to enlarge
th e holes through the drawer fi·o nt o r doo r. Tighten the nuts
on th e inside of the cabinet, and consider fittin g w ashers if the
nuts appear to be crushing the wood .

1 Gluing a
loose knob
A turned wooden
knob is nonnally
made with an t
integral screw that is
inserted in a coarse-
threaded hole in the
drawer front. If the
th read has worn, try
gluing the knob in
place, perhaps
winding thin twine
around the already
glued screw to j
l
increase its girth. 'l i l lioo•"""'"'~
::::;;;_~

2 Inserting a
1 Swan-neck glued wedge
cabinet handle A lternatively, saw a
2 Yellow-glass slot in the screw and
cupboard knob then, with the knob
3 Teardrop handle held firmly against
and eswtcheon the drawer fron t,
4 D rop handle on spread the screw in
fre tted back plate its hole by tapping a
5 Pressed-111etal glued wedge into the
plate handle slot. Pla ne the wedge
6 Cast-iron fl ush once the glue
drawer pull has set.
7 R ing pull
8 Drop handle 011
solid back plate
9 Flush handle
10 R ing pu ll and
pressed escutcheon Replacing missing handles
11 Cabinet lock Altho ugh there is a large range of excellent reproductions, you
with drive-in brass are unlikely to find a perfect match for a single metal handle .
esw tcheons It is probably best to replace the whole set. Ho wever, it is
12 Tu m button fairly easy to copy a wooden knob on a lathe.
~-----------------C
~HE
~~S~
TS ~
AN~D
._CABINETS : HUUUD~ARE

C abine t lo c k s R epairing a broken drawer rail


A number of drawers and cupb oard doors are It is not unusual to find a splintered drawer rail, as a result of
someone having levered a locked drawer. R emove all the
secured w ith small brass cabinet locks. Because splintered w ood by cutting a tapered notch in th e unde rside
turning the key is often the only w ay to open a of the drawer rail, as described for patching a broken cock
door, cupboard locks are usually intac t and in good beading (see page 153), then glue a piece of ma tching
hardwood into the rail.
w orking order. Drawer locks, however, are
invariably missing entirely, or the keys have been 1 Marking
lost long ago . This rarely constitutes a problem a mortise
unless the drawer happens to be locked. Jj you intend to
reinstate the lock,
Opening a locked drawer mark the position of
B efore reso rting to drastic m easures, m ake sure that it is not the morTise for the
m erely the contents of a drawe r that is preventing it from lock bolt. EiTher
being opened. Insert a plastic ruler or the blade of a table knife transfer tl1e
above the drawer front, using it to hold dow n any obj ect that measurements from
is j ammed behind the drawer rail. the lock, or paint nail
If the drawer app ears to be empty, try rem oving the drawer varnish onto tl1e tip
above to gain access to the screws that hold the lock in place . of the bolt and then
R emove the back of the cabinet if you need to slide a operate the lock to
dustboard out of the way. press the bolt against
If the top drawe r is locked, take off th e back pan el and the drawer rail.
attempt to rem ove the drawer bo ttom (see page 141).
2 Cutting
the mortise
Clean the lock with
acetone bifore the
nail vamish sets,
then use a cranked
chisel to cut a shallow
mortise in the under-
side of the rail, using
the imprint lift by
the varnish as a
guide to its position.

.
R eplacing a missing escutcheon
Brass escutcheons we re used to line keyholes in drawer fro nts
and doors. Authentically shaped drive- in escutcheons are made
in a variety of sizes to replace any that have been misplaced.
This type of escutc heon is designed w ith a slight taper to m ake
a tight fit in the keyhole.

Fitting a
face - mounted
escutcheon
Crudely cut keyholes
Bending the drawer rail were often masked
It may be possible to release the lock bolt by bending a long drawer with small decorative
rail. Screw an L-shape block to the rail above the locked drawer and, escutcheon plates.
using a sash clamp hooked over the top of the cabinet, slowly pull the You can buy period-
rail upward. Take great care not to put too much strain on the rail, or style reproductions for
you may split the wood or break the joints at each end. nailing to the drawer
front or door stile.
Hiring a locksmith
As a las t resort, som e restorers cut a notch o ut of the front of
the drawer rail to free the lock, and then patch it aft erward .
But rather than spoil a nice piece of furniture, it might be best
to hire a locksmith to pick the lock and to supply yo u w ith a
replacem ent key.

155
drilling jig 61 French knot 80 tabletops 11 1 J
drop-in seats 81- 4 French polish 14, 18, 19, gold leaf 40
drop-leaf tables 100, 102 23 , 27, 28-3 1 grain joints
dust cover 81 , 83 , 85 front seat rail 46 cross Li 1, Li3 angled bridle 56
dustboards 132, 135, 140 front-leg joints 57 crushed 23 back-splat mortise 66
dy es fuming wood 26 drawers 1-t 1 binding rule 1OS
alcohol-base 27 furniture end 55 bolted 51 , 94
solvent-base 27 beetle 156 filling 24 butt 98 , 110, 136
stained varnish 27 buying 10-1 5 French polish 30 cresting- rail 65
water-base 27 cast-iron 43, 46, 50, 92, opening 26, 51 do vetail 15 , 98, 105, 132 ,
wood 27 94, 95 raised 21 , 22 , 25 , 27 141
metal 50, 92- 5 rubbing 18, 32 dowel 46, 52 , 55 , 58, 59,
IE reproduction 15 sanding 24 93, 98 , 102, 110
restoration 8-15 short 46, -+7 , 58, 62, 63, front-leg 57
edge roll 85, 89 transportation 13 65, 66 glued 54, 55, 69-74
edge stringing 128 tub ular-steel 50, 95 side panels 137 haunched tenon 56
edges 119 wro ught-iron 43, 50, side 55 , 127 knuckle 107
Empire-style chairs 53, 66 95 splits 110 lap 100, 148
end rails 98, 100 veneer 11 8, 125 leveling 111
epoxy adhesive 92 , 95 , 107, G veneers 115 loose 14, 51- 2
114 groundwork 115 , 119, miter 148
escutcheons 155 gate frame 100 120-126, 136 mortise- and- tenon 46 , 51,
extending tables 99- 100 gateleg tables 100, 102, guide blocks 60, 99 , 108 55, 60 , 65, 98 , 99 , 101 ,
106-1 07, 112 guide fence 110 102, 104, 134, 144, 148
F gel strippers 20 gummed paper 126 regluing 51 , 104, 110
general-purpose strippers repairi ng 55- 7
fast-action clamps 53 20 H riveted 95
fiberfill 29 , 77 , 81, 83,90 gesso 40, 41 rule 100
filling wax 40 gilding 40- 42 H-stretcher rails 48 sca1f 57, 58 , 64
finish reviver 18, 19, 136 gilt cream 40 , 41 half-hitch knot 87 screwed 52
finished leathers 91 gilt varnish 40 half-round cutting 115 stick-chair 57
finishes gilt wax sticks 40 hand veneering 121 stopped 57
cleaning and reviving 18 gimp 85 handles 154 stopped-dowel repair 59
condition of 14 gimp pins 77 , 90 harness needles 92 stub-tenon 46, 53, 98
gilding 40-2 glass 15 , 149- 150 haunched tenon 56 tables 104-108
lacquer 34-6 , 40, 43 glazed doors 148 heated sand 129 through 57
metal40, 41 - 2, 43 glazier's points 148 hide food 91 tongue- and-groove 98,
modifYing color 25-7 glazing bar 148, 150 hide strainer 76, 78 110, 145
oils 33 glue film 121 hinges
paint 34, 35 , 38 glue back-flap 100, 105 K
preparation 22-4 animal 54, 111 , 11 9, 121 , butt 133
repairing 19 122 , 123 deep-set 14 7 knee block 46 , 61
stenciling 38-9 cold-setting adhesives 111, face-mounted 133 knots
stripping 20- 1 121, 123, 124 loose 134, 136, 145 clove-hitc h 87
varnishes 34-7 contact adhesive 125 packing out 1OS double-hitch 87, 89
wax polish 26 , 32- 3, 41 , crossbanding 126 recessing 105 French 80
114 dismantling 102 hole-clearing tool 68, 72 half-hitc h 87
finishing liquid 40 epm.'Y
. adhesives 54, 92 , 95 , hollow drill 52 hitch 87
first stuffing 85, 88 107, 114 hook scraper 137 lock-loop 87
flat slicing 115 w hite (PVA) hooped rail 49 slip 80, 89
flattening 31 woodworking glue 54, hot-air stripping 20 knotting 35
flight holes 156 111 ,1 19 hy drogen peroxide 114 knuckle joints 107
flitches 115 resin 54
foam upholstery 84 veneers 118 J L
Fontenay base 40, 41 gluing
frame chairs 46-7, 62 cabinet locks 155 industrial stripping 21 lacing cord 77 , 85 , 87
frame tables 99 carcasses 136 insect infestation 56, 58, lacquer 35, 36, 40, 43
frame-and-panel drawer stops 139 156 ladder-back chairs 48 , 53
construction 99, handles 154 integral moldings 151, lap joint 100, 148
134- 35 , 139, 144 joints 54, 55 , 69-74 152 larvae 156
frass 156 metal furniture 92 iron furniture -+3, 46, 50, lath 137
freak-figured veneer 117 stretcher rail 51 92 , 94, 95 lathes 67, 113, 115

]_[}
lead cames 148, 150 mold box 93 prewoven cane 73 §
leaded glass 148, 150 molded edge 113 , 136 private sale 13
leather moldings 18, 21, 2-1 , 35, putty 1-19, 150 saddle 63, 66
aniline 91 12-1-25 , 133, 1-1-1, saddle block 103
151-53 saddler's stitch 92
cracks 91
mounting block 101 , 103,
Q safe strippers 20
finished 91
hide food 91 104 quarter-cut veneers 115 safety procedures 36
liquid dressing 91 muntin 141 , 144 sagging seats 78
sandbag 125
stitching 92
upholste1y 91-2
R sanding 12, 22 , 2-1, 27 , 124
legs rails sandpaper
barley-twist 100 needles 76, 86, 88, 89, 92 back 14, -16, -17, 53 aluminium-oxide paper 23
cabriole 46 , 48, 60 cane- chair 64 closed- coat ab rasives 23
club foot 61-2 central 98 garnet paper 23
knee blocks 46, 61
0 crest -16, 4 7, -+8, 53, 65 grades of23
leveling 62 oils cross rail 99 open- coat abrasives 23
pedestal table 101, 103, D anish 33 curved 63--1 silicon- carbide paper 19,
105 edible 33 drawer 98, 132, 135, 23 , 30, 31, 32, 33, 35,
repairing 58-62 linseed 18, 30, 33 138-39, 140, 155 40
rounded 63 teak 33 end 98, 100 wer-and-d1y paper 35, 40,
saber 58, 66 rung 33 front 64 41 , 114
square 59 oxalic acid 25, 114 hooped -19 sash clamps 95, 111 , 136,
table 99 oxidation 43 H -stretcher -18 1-13, 155
tripod 103, 105 R egency-style 64 scarf joints 57, 58, 64
turned 15, 47 , 58, 59, 60, repairing 63-4 scrapers 23 , 6-1
98, 138
lP seat 14, 51 , 53,63-4 scratch stock 151 , 152,
Windsor chair 60 paint 34, 35, 38 side 46 , 47 , 98, 100 153
liming wax 25, 26 paintbrushes 35 stretcher 1-1, -17, -+8, 51, scratches 19, 22 , 23, 25 , 26,
linings 77 parquetry 128-29 53, 63-4, 99, 100 27 , 40, 114, 135
linseed oil 18, 30 patching 67, 113 , 119-120, tables 98 screwed joints 52
lips 136, 145 126, 127, 140, 146, 147, tenoned side 63 screwed runner 138
liquid metal polish 18 152 tenoned 64 screws 109, 145-46, 147
liquid strippers 20 patina 22 , 23 turned 64 sealing 24
locks 155 pedestal tables 101, 103, raised-and-fielded panel seam-roller 121
long-nosed pliers 68 104-105 1-1-1 seasoning 112
loose joints 14, 51-2 Pembroke tables 100 ratchet straps 62 seat frames 53 , 68-74
pincushion pad 84 ray-figured veneer 116 seat rails 14, 51 , 53, 63-4
piping 79 rear post 132 secondhand stores 11
M piping cord 77 rebuilt furniture 15 second stuffing 85, 90
marble tops 113-14, 136 pivots 101, 106, 107 recaning 68-7-+ shellac 19, 22 , 26-8, 30-34,
markets 11 plaster of paris 93 refinishing 22 41 , 54
marquetry 117, 128-29 plinth 132, 138 regluing 51 , 118- 19, 136 shoe 46
mattress needle 88, 89 plugged fittings 52 regulator 76, 89 shrinkage plates 109
metal brackets 53 plugging cane 72-4 reinforcing plate 101, 103, side cutters 68
metal furniture 50, 92-5 plugs 120, 145 105 side panels 132, 133, 137
metal leaf 40, 41-2 plywood 134, 135, 145 repairing joints 55-7 side rails 46, 47 , 98, 100
metal plate 101 pocket screws 109 repairing legs 58-62 side-run trays 139, 140
metal sash clamps 62 polish reproduction furniture silver sand 129
metal-tube clips 80 button 28 15 sisal string 77
mild steel 95 cream 32-3 restoration 8-1 5 sizing 42, 122, 123
mineral spirits 18, 20, 21, French 14, 27, 28-31 retouching 19 skewings 42
27 garnet 28 ripping chisel 76, 86 slip molding 141
mirror 135 liquid metal 18 rivets 95 slip stitching 80
mirror stand 135 marble 113 Rohe, Mies van der 50 slipknot 80, 89
miter joints 148 paste 32-3 roughing the surface 121, sofa tables 100
mitered ends 56, 126 silicone 33 123 softening blocks 62, 107
mortise 55-6, 60 , 63, 66, transparent 28 rotary cutting 115 soldering iron 22
155 wax 32-3 , 41, 114 rubber 29, 30 solid-wood construction
mortise-and-tenon joints white 28 rubber webbing 80 132- 147
46 , 51 , 55 , 60 , 65, 98, poly foam 77 rule joints 100 solvents 20, 21 , 34, 114, 136
99, 101 , 102, 104, 134, poultice 113, 136 rush seating 7-1-5 solvent strippers 20
144, 148 power sanders 24 rust-inhibitive primer 43 spiriting off 30

159
plat-back frame chair 46, marble tops 113-14, 136 veneer wood
53 pedes~! 101 , 103. 104-105 blisters 118-19 bleach 25
splats 46, 53, 67 Pembroke 100 burr 117 carved 31 , 153
spline 73 sofa 100 butt 117 clips 80
spray booth 36 tops 1-+, 15 , 98, 99, 100, caul 118, 121 , 123 , 127 close- grain 30
spray guns 36 101, 103. 109-123 chiffonier 134 dye 22 , 27
spraying 36-7 veneers 115-123 crossbanded 148 expansion 132
sprigs 148, 150 tack hammer 68 cross-grain 125 fuming 26
spring ties 85 tack remover 76 cro wn-cut 115-16 grain 110, 115, 127
spring-la cing cord 86 tacks 77, 86 curl 117 oiling 33
springs 77, 86, 87 talc 114 curly-figured 116 open-grain 26
sprung seats 86 tannic acid 26 doors 145 sealing 24
square frame chairs 62 tapered block 106 flat slicing 115 shrinkage 51, 132
staining 27 tapered seats 70- 72, 7-+ freak-figured 117 solid 132-147
stains 114, 136 tarnish -+3 half-round cutting 115 split 146
Starn, Mart 50 templates 59-61, 67 hanm1er 118, 121, 122, staining 27
staple gun 76 temporary pegs 68 127 swollen 145-146
steam applicator 54 tenons 55-6, 63, 65, 102, hand 121 turned 27, 47 , 58-61 , 98,
steam 23, 102, 113, 115 , 118 104 ironing 121, 122 101, 138
steam-ben t chairs 49 Thonet bentwood chair 49 laying 121-22 warped 112, 147
steel plate 94 Thonet, Michael 49 punches 120 woodwor m 14, 58, 64, 132,
steel wool 18, 21, 24, 28, threads 77 quarter-cut 115 135, 138, 141 , 156
31, 32, 33, 35, 40, 41 , through joints 57 ray-figured 116 wrought iron 43, 50, 95
43 through ties 88 removal 120
stencil brushes 38-9 tongue-an d-groove joints repairing 118-120
stenciling 38-9 98, 110, 145 rotaty cutting 115
stick chairs 48 , 57 top cover 83, 85 shading 129
sticks 48 top rail 132 striped 11 6
stile 133 torn covers 78 table tops 109
stiletto 68, 70 trimming knife 76 rypes 116-17
stitching 80, 86, 89, 92 trimmings 77 viscosity 36
stop blocks 99 , 100, 108 tripod leg 103, 105
stopped joints 57 tubular-ste el furniture 50, ~y
stopper 22 95
straps 62, 63 turned column 101 w adding 29, 77, 81, 83,
stretcher rails 1-+, 47, 51 , turned details 27 90
53, 63-4, 99, 100 turned foot -138 w arehouses 12
stringing 126-28 turned legs 47 , 58-61 , 98 warping 112, 147
striped veneer 116 twines 77 washstand s 135
stripping 14, 20-21 , 43 two-part bleach 25 water stains 19, 135, 136
stub-tenon joints 46, 53, 98 water-was hable strippers
stuffed seats 47, 85-90
stuffing 77, 81, 82, 86 u wax
20
stuffing ties 81, 82, 88, 90 upholstery beeswax 92
foam 84 crayons 40
T hammer 76 filling 40
leather 91-2 gilt wax sticks 40
tables nails 77, 90, 91 liming 25 , 26
bamboo 104 pins 76 marble polish 113
basic frame 102 repairs 78-80 polish 26, 32-3, 41 , 114
constructio n 98-101 scissors 76 removal 18
crossbanding 126-27 tools and equipment sticks 19, 22, 156
dismantling 102- 103 76- 7 sticking drawer 142
draw -leaf99, 102, 108 upstand 134 web clamp 57
drop-leaf 100, 102 webbing 46, 77, 78 , 80-82,
extending 99-100 85
flaps 112 webbing stretchers 76
frame 98 V-shape blocks 61, 67 welding 94, 95
frame-and- panel varnish removers 20 white rings 19, 135, 136
constructio n 99 varnish 18-19, 27 , 34- 5, whiting 113, 114
gateleg 100, 102, 106-7, 40 Windsor chairs 48, 51 , 58,
112 vegetable fiber 77, 81 60, 67

160
The essential step-by -step guide
to buying, repairing, and finishing

FURNITURE
More than 700 full-color
illustrations and photographs

Key skills and helpful hints for all experience levels

Tips on how to browse markets and


check the condition of secondhand furniture

Basic upholstery and wood repairs


for chairs, tables, and cabinets

Techniques for everything from restoring


and replacing finishes to furniture preservation

Vtstt www AuthorTrackcrcom for cxcluswc Publi shed in collaboration w ith the Smithsonian Institution,
mformauon on your favorite HarpcrCollms authors. America's foremost a utho ri ty in hi story , science, a nd art.
REI·ERENCE/H andbooks & Manuals
Cover design and photograph by Laura Klynstra
ISBN- 13 : 978- 0-06- 11 3730-3

, '~l 'Jl lJI)i)I)~J'ifl l l lil fl ~


( : Collins
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USA $1 6.95 Ca nada $21.95


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