The Completed Chairs
the arm chair in particular was very broken and the customer and I decided the best course of action was to remove the upholstery so that I could access the broken areas better and make better repairs. Ultimately this meant removing the back from the chair and dismantling it. Below is a photo of the chair as it came into the shop followed by some photos of the damage to the back legs of the chair.
As far as the date is concerned, being signed in the 18th century would make the chair older than the Empire period by a few years. All of these styles evolved and several design motifs spanned periods, especially when they were short lived. The tendency we have to place a piece of furniture in a specific period is relatively modern, and to the maker and the original owner, it would have been a chair made in the latest fashion. Either way , it is a well made chair that employs beautiful West Indies mahogany and great design.
Once the chair was dismantled, the first step in repairing it was to glue all of the broken pieces in place. These were all centered around the joinery in the back of the chair, in one case where tenons for a seat stretchers meet the rear leg and in another, where the crest rail is joined to the rear leg. In either case, these areas were weakened by removal of wood to create mortises and further weakened with the introduction of pegs, used to secure the joints. At first, these joints were sound and the loss of wood was countered by tenons glued in place. After 200+ years, the glue failed and the wood became brittle, leading to the structural failure. Below are a few photos of the broken pieces being glued in place on the right rear post (The direction is given as if you were facing the chair).
Leg clamped to the fence, the blade is lowered into the table.
The side chair was in far better shape structurally and really all that it needed was to have the finish cleaned and the upholstery changed to match the armchair. Here is a photo of the side chair as it came to the shop.
Here is a photo of the side chair with the finish restored ready to go to the upholsterer. Because I did not need to fix any structural problems on the chair, I left the upholstery on and the upholsterer removed it.
These final photos are of the chairs once they returned from the upholster.