Watch and learn the technique to restore this antique chair and rescue it from going to the landfill. There are many types of skills required for this restoration including woodturning, woodworking, chairmaking, finishing and restoration techniques.
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This chair is an antique, with a patent date of July 18, 1876 stamped on the back. The customer also has 3 other matching chairs, so this is a valuable piece that needs to be repaired in a way that preserves the value of it.
The first step to rescue this chair was to disassemble the chair and inspect the broken parts. I found some split parts along the way that need to be glued up with PVA glue for a permanent bond.
Then I moved on turning the stretchers (spindles between the legs) on the lathe. These were straight without decorative coves or beads so easy to turn. I started with rough cut lumber and cross cut it on my miter saw. As dust collection is important for workshop safety and cleanliness, I built a dust collection hood for my miter saw back in the 1990’s that’s still working great today. The important part is using wood that has straight grain, so I split the board first and then ripped it parallel to the grain so the stretchers would be as strong as possible. Using wood with grain on the angle weakens the parts as we see by one of the broken stretchers.
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Once the pieces were turned, I trimmed them to length using a bench hook and a dovetail saw. I then test fit them in the chair.
The second, and more difficult part of this restoration was replacing the broken front. I used some White Oak lumber and ran it though the planer (with dust collection of course) to get a smooth board. I then jointed it by hand to get a smooth edge to work on. As with making any furniture, the joinery (how the parts fit together) needs to be done first before cutting out any shapes. I mark and drill holes for dowel pins. I test fit it to ensure I got it right before tracing and cutting out the shape on the bandsaw. I’ve retrofitted my old Delta bandsaw with a dust collection solution using a vacuum attachment that pulls dust away from either side of the blade from underneath the bandsaw table.
Once the part was cut out, I smoothed out the cut on the disk sander, which also has dust collection using my shop vacuum. Then I shaped the front profile using some spokeshaves. After sanding, this was ready for stain and protective finish.
I made up a sample board with stains to get the best match. I found that I had to "set the grain" first with a dark stain and then apply a different color to get a look that matched the existing chair. I also tested the existing finish to discover it was a lacquer finish. I spayed on 5 coats of lacquer to protect the new parts.
I hope you enjoyed this video and learned a few new things. Please subscribe to our channel to help us grow this supportive community around furniture repairs. Thank you.
How to Test Wood Finishes – https://youtu.be/Xp4layfBXkA
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This video is hosted by Scott Bennett, Owner of Wooden It Be Nice – Furniture Repair in Brooklin, Ontario, Canada. https://WoodenItBeNice.ca