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A Pile of Chairs

Updated: Dec 15, 2018

A Pile of Chairs

it’s not often that we get a truck full of wood pieces that are supposed to be 8 chairs.  But, that’s what happened recently.  When we unloaded the truck this is what we had.  Grandma’s chairs.  The table was in one piece so that was easy, the only easy part of this repair, rebuild, & refinish project.

There was one lone standing chair complete with the old seat.  Now, the task began, how do we put this jigsaw puzzle back together?

The first step was to the stripping tray to clean what was left of the original finish.  These pieces also had to be bleached to remove years of wear and tear.  They look better already.

What became apparent was that we had some major restoring #furniturerestoration ahead. One of the claw feet had to be completely rebuilt.  

This is a tedious process which consists of adding a soft wood, making it easier to carve and shape.  Once these pieces had been glued on we began the carving process. Which gave the foot its shape.

Once we had the basic shape we were then able to fill in what was missing with a hard wood putty.  After that we could complete the carving of the design.

We also saw that the filigree #filigree at the top of each leg were either missing or damaged.  Since this decoration was placed on the curve of the leg, carving a new piece was not practical. After researching different methods of duplicating this filigree, we found a someone who was able to make the necessary mold to match the original design as close as possible.  A wood filler mixture was used to fill the mold to make 12 of these pieces.  This mixture dried rock hard.  We were then able to attach the new pieces to the legs of the chairs.

Here are 2 of the 24 completed legs all stripped, repaired, rebuilt, & refinished.  It’s impossible to tell which claw foot was rebuilt.  

With the rebuilding and restoring completed the “only” thing left to do is put the jigsaw puzzle together.  Here the chairs have been stained.  You can tell the pieces that had to be completely rebuilt.  They do not take the stain in the same way as the older wood.  The new parts will have to be color matched. After testing different colors on like pieces of wood, we were able to come up with a formula of colors to match the new pieces to the old.  This is a process that has been developed through years of experience.  It involves knowing which colors mix well and having an experienced eye.  Also, there are different applications that layer on the stain and color that work.  

After staining and color matching, the chairs get the last coat of protective finish and new seats.  In this case since the wood was so dry we had to build up a base of protective finish to get an even shine.

And now the entire set is all ready for a celebration dinner and lots of memories of Grandma.

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