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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Three Completed Chippendale Style Mirrors (20th Century)

Below are some photos of the Chippendale style mirrors I was working on completed. The Mahogany and Cherry mirrors were each cleaned and waxed, while the Tiger Stripe Maple mirror had it's finish removed and was refinished with French Polish. A thin stain was added to even out the color.

First, the Mahogany Mirror (all mirrors of seen from side views and directly).

The Cherry Mirror.

And the Tiger Stripe Maple Mirror.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Repairing an Oak Pressed Back Side Chair (ca. 1890)

I received an Oak pressed back chairs that was in need of several repairs. The pressed back process eliminated the need for hand carving in the detailing of chairs and allowed chairs to b e created in a assembly line fashion. here is a link to a great article on the development of the pressed back chair:


The chair is seen in the photo below as it came to me. the chair needed to be re-glued and had some broken joinery. The seat also needed to be replaced. I will post a photo of the completed chair when it returns from the Caner.

Here is a photo of the chair after it was dismantled for re-gluing. almost every joint in the chair was loose.
One tenon was broken off the end of a stretcher. the first step in repairing it was to saw the broken part off. I have wrapped the end of the stretcher in tape for the following step.
The broken stretcher is fit into a hole drilled with a Forstner bit using the blue tape. Once the stretcher is snug the same bit is jammed into the end grain of the stretcher to locate the center of the piece. The second photo shows the bit finding the center and the third shows the indention in the end of the stretcher.

Next, the stretcher is clamped into a vise with the block still around it. A smaller diameter Forstner bit is used to make a Mortise for a dowel. The block is left in place to prevent the stretcher from splintering.
A new dowel is inserted with glue and a new tenon is created!
After all of the joinery was cleaned of it's old glue, the chair was re-glued and clamped to the surface of the Table Saw, which is a nice level surface. The blue tape on the chair is to indicate which piece goes where.

Henkel Harris Mahogany Chippendale Dining Chairs (Ca. 1978)

I have recently been working on a set of reproduction Chippendale Dining Chairs as well as two bases from a Duncan Phyfe style dining table all made by the Henkel Harris Furniture Company of Winchester, Va. For a history on The Henkel Harris Furniture Company follow this link:


all of the chairs and bases are made exclusively of Honduran Mahogany. The bases had some structural repairs that were needed and the chairs needed to be re-glued. In addition, The whole set needed some touching up and cleaning. below are some photos of the repair work being done. I will post some more photos as the job progresses.

Here is a photo of the dining chairs and the table bases as they arrived in my shop.

This leg design is always problematic and over time the legs either crack or loosen from the pedestals. This set was no exception. Below are some photos of the repairs made to the bases.

One base with the legs removed, the blue tape indicates which leg goes where.
The pedestals had cracked where the legs met due to dowels put into the end grain through the legs. this was supposed to strengthen the joinery, but instead caused the bottoms of the pedestals to splinter. This photo shows the repair to the pedestals.
One leg had developed a crack where the upper dowel entered the leg. this is a natural weak spot and it must be remembered that Mahogany splits very easily. The first photo shows the break followed by the repair.

The last step was to re-attach the legs to the pedestals. Below is a photo of the bases being glued up.
The chairs were loose in different ways, but most had loosened where the side stretchers met the back. This is a common place for chairs to loosen. here is a photo of one of the chairs knocked apart followed by several photos of the chairs being glued.

This chair had a broken back splat. The photo below shows the repair to it.
Another chair being glued.
On the arm chairs the arms had loosened, I opened up the joints and re-glued the arms as seen in the photos below.

I will post more photos of these chairs later.

American Chippendale Mahogany Candlestand (ca.1760- 1780) Part 2

Here are a few photos of the candlestand I was working on completed. the original finish was basically cleaned and the repaired areas touched-up and sealed with French Polish. With the exception of the repair to the top, the old repairs were left visible to attest to the age and history of the piece. If you missed the first post on this piece here is a link to that page:


Below are photos from different angles and one with the top of the table tilted upright.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

American Chippendale Mahogany Candlestand (ca. 1760-1780)

Probably my favorite style of furniture is the tripod table. Tripod bases were used in tea tables, candlestands, fire screens, and sometimes in dumbwaiters during the 18th and early 19th century. The idea of the tripod base is that on an uneven floor it can always find solid footing whereas a table with four legs will wobble. This is especially important when dealing with flames from a candle or lamp, or with tea.

The first use of this form was seen in Holland in the mid-17th century and towards the end of that century examples of tables using a tripod base were found in England. As the 18th century progressed this form came into real fashion in England and by the mid-18th century was abundant with the rise of the upper middle class. The use of the tea table also corresponded with the rise of tea drinking in England and all of the ceremony that accompanied it. In America, which followed the trends of England and Europe, many fine examples of all of the aforementioned tables etc. could be found.

There are several variations on this general form. One of which is the tilt top table. The idea behind this is that the top is hinged by its battons to the pedistal so that the top can flip up for easy storage. The top is held down by a brass "snap" or catch or by a wooden turn buckle in cruder examples. In fact, one name for these tables in the 18th century was a snap table. One further innovation was the incorporation of a "birdcage" which was a section of the table between the pedestal and the top which allowed the top to spin like a Lazy Susan. This allowed women to spin the top during tea rather than get up to serve tea which would be difficult with the large dresses that were the fashion of the time.

I recently received a candlestand from a customer who wanted it to be restored. The candlestand came from a collection of furniture owned by a Dr. C Ray Franklin who was a Kentucky born descendant of Benjamin Franklin. Dr. Franklin was a collector of fine furniture in the early to mid 20th century and acquired an impressive collection f 18th and 19th century American furniture. This collection was auctioned off on Saturday, October 13th, 1984 by Christie's auction house in New York City. A hardbound auction book was published and the table we are concerned with was included in the book. Here is the cover of the book:

The table is described as coming from Massachusetts and is dated between 1760 and 1780. below is the photo of the table from the book followed by the description.

The description makes reference to repairs to the dish top and to the pedestal. All of these repairs were still visible when I received the table. The repairs to the base were quite old and involved several patches. The repair to the dish top was more recent and very poorly executed. I was hired to remedy this problem and to restore the piece while being sensitive to its history. Below is a photo of the table as it came to me.
Here is a close up of the repair to the dish top. It is called a "dish top" because it was turned on a lathe and the perimeter was turned into a decorative molding while the center was dished out to a lower depth.
Luckily, The repair was reversible and with a little effort I was able to separate the repaired pieces from the top. I then cleaned the old glue off of the pieces and fit them to the top so that the pieces lay flush with the top. Once this was accomplished the pieces were glued in place.Below is a photo of the pieces being glued in place.
While the pedestal had been repaired, the repairs were old and the glue had lost it's bond. The damage was quite significant and I wanted to add strength to the joinery without the use of modern glues(which would have been inappropriate). The answer was to create a "Spider" which is a metal piece that is formed to the underside of the pedestal which connects the pedestal to the legs. This is an authentic repair and Spiders can be found on many 18th century tripod tables. I have detailed the process of the fabrication and application of the spider as well as the repairs to the base below.

Here is a photo of the base of the pedestal and the damaged areas.
Here are the two legs that were removed in the first photo.
the first step was to clean the old glue and glue the base back together. This can be seen in the following two photos.

After the glue had dried, I fashioned a metal spider out of sheet metal that had some rusty spots. First the metal was cut to shape.
The metal was then darkened using Selenious Acid.
The last step was to fasten the spider to the legs using screws I had some nice old screws that fit the bill, so I used them.
This last photo shows the table dismantled during the restoration of the finish. I will post some photos of the completed piece in a few days.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Completed Walter's of Wabash Oak Extention Table (ca. 1950)

Here is a quick entry to show the oak extension table I have been working on completed. The previous post tells the story of it's restoration. the top has a French Polish finish and the base has the original base restored. The first photo shows the top with the leaf in and the last two show the table without the leaf.