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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Mahogany and Maple Rocking Chair (ca. 1910)

Recently I completed the restoration of a rocking chair made some where close to the turn of the century. Typical of much of the furniture if the time period, The chair was made from a strong and durable wood,in this case Maple. For a bit of flare and to resemble a finer chair, veneers of quality hardwoods, in this Mahogany, were used in key areas to accent the chair. In this rocker, Mahogany veneer was used on the front face of the crest rail and also the seat. The rest of the seat is made of thin layers of wood molded to the shape and glued together, essentially a piece of molded plywood with a Mahogany veneer.

One exception to this list of woods was the use of Chestnut in the front right post (as seen facing the chair). There is no reason why one post would be maple and another of chestnut, except that that is what was available at the time or that it was an extra piece lying around they decided to use. Either way, the difference in woods was and is largely covered by the stain on the chair.

The chair was in good shape structurally, but it needed a new finish badly. the old finish had become thick and dark and the beauty of the Mahogany veneers was hardly visible. Basically, we removed the finish from the chair, re-stained it, and put on the new shellac finish using French Polishing techniques. Below are a few photos of the rocking chair going through the process.

This first photo shows the chair just after the finish was removed.   
The next step in the process was to sand the entire chair to remove any residue from the old finish. Here the chair appears after it has been sanded. The old red stains they used are hard to completely eliminate, but there is really no reason to do this because the chair was stained again to match the original color.
This next photo shows the rocker after it was stained.
These last four photos show the chair completely restored. The very last photo is a close up of the seat, which shows the beautiful Mahogany veneer that was used.

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