Monday, June 03, 2013

Random Side Projects

As some of you might know, I'm a clockmaker, but the house has pretty much taken up all my spare time and energy. For several months, I've had a longcase clock that I started working on for a client (the parents of a friend), and I've been lazy/side tracked. For two months I've done *no work* on it, which is pretty lame of me. I decided to get back to it today.

Since I'll be working with animal hide glue for a lot of the longcase clock's repairs, I also decided that I would simultaneously work on 2 (3, 4, 5?) other side projects that require hide glue repairs. The first of these is this antique chair (see below). The second is yet another chair (I'll share photos tomorrow). 3 is a very quick repair to the mirror stand from my antique walnut bedroom set (already done), and 4 & 5 will be to fix 2 clock tops that were damaged in the move back in 2010.

This chair is actually a trash find (which means it was free!) I was walking home one evening on garbage night (or possibly the evening before), and this chair caught my eye, so I took it home. It wasn't too heavy, and luckily it was only 2 blocks away.

The chair is mahogany with its original crackled shellac finish. The old upholstery was in TERRIBLE shape, but overall, I thought it could make a nice piece once restored. The shape is also a bit unusual. I can't say that I've ever seen another one with this type of shape on the back rest.

When I brought it home and had a good look at it, I noticed that it was actually stuffed with STRAW! It was also apparent that the last person to upholster it didn't do the best job, and had several "make do" pieces, like the sewn scraps of fabric for the webbing (shakes head).

They just don't make furniture like this these days. Not a single piece of wood on this chair is flat. Every single piece has curves and bends, and precisely cut angles and joints. Also notice the nice edge ribbon detail.

Here are the scrap fabric webbing pieces (which failed). They are sewn with a sewing machine, but the repairs and upholstery job look VERY old (I'd say early 1900s).

I spent about a good hour this afternoon tearing off all the old fabric, ripping out hundreds of tiny little upholstery tacks, and dealing with all the old straw stuffing. It was kind of a mess.

I also knocked-apart the chair and later in the evening I glued it all back together again while I did one or two small glue jobs on the clock case pieces. More photos tomorrow. I'll also share a detailed photo of the original (or second upholstery job) fabric, ribbon, and the other chair. Both these old chairs will likely be used in the living room.


  1. It's tragic that people put that kind of antique in the trash. There are SO MANY ways to give away free furniture. I'm glad you rescued it from an inglorious end.

    1. Yeah, especially since the chair is solid mahogany. It's not a cheaply made chair, and it wasn't in that bad condition, other than the upholstery, and a need for a bit of a polish.