Life-Long Hobby: Furniture Restoration

Discussion in 'Home Improvement' started by Jorge Ruiz, Jan 24, 2015.

  1. Jorge Ruiz

    Jorge Ruiz Member
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    Hey all.

    Wanted to share a life-long hobby of mine: furniture restoration.

    It may have begun in wood shop when I learned the basics of making small furniture items and finishing them off. Though I think my mum might have planted a seed, she was the ingenious one who, instead of throwing something out, like a chair or a pillow, would recover it. My dad was a garbage collector back in the day before such existed (picked up people's trash in a pick-up and took it to the dump for a small fee) and was always bringing stuff home that needed work.

    Anyway, hate to see a perfectly good piece of furniture dumped simply because it needs some sprucing up, a new paint job, a drawer fixed or a varnish job. Have learned patience and practiced love with each piece I've done.

    Wanted to share something I now do when finishing a wood piece (I'll add a pic of one). Instead of the three to seven coats of clear or satin varnish (each sanded before the next applied) which leaves a nice protective sheen that also adds depth to the finish, I've recently started using Teak oil and bee's wax instead. The oil I rub in a couple of times, then let age a day or so. Then I rub bee's wax all over the piece until it's all covered, then rub with a warm, soft cloth until it shines. Better than varnish (doesn't smell bad and don't have to clean the brush with turpentine), especially since I heat the house with a wood stove and that tends to damage synthetic varnishes.

    Of course, have to re-wax every couple of years, but it's like giving that furniture a loving caress once in a while.

    Anyone else have tricks they use when restoring old furniture?

    peace,
    revel.

    entry piece before.jpg

    entry piece after.jpg
     
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  2. Harrison Greenberg

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    Wow that's really good wood work. The after-math looks amazing, good job on the restoration. I've seen some people who tried to restore old furniture, but this work is impressive!
     
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  3. Jenn Windey

    Jenn Windey Active Member
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    When I was a young girl one of the first woodworking projects I ever did was with my dad. We got a lovely cedar chest from some guy that was using it to store tools. I think Dad paid like $25. We sanded it and he replaced some hardware for me, then we used teak oil. It actually came out beautiful and still looks beautiful today. I seldom use anything on it but a soft rag. I think maybe once of twice I used the Life O Wood polish that left a nice shine. Since then I have done several pieces, I have a set of chairs in the basement I have wanted to do forever, I just don't always have the time. the chairs have hand carved grapes on the upper part of the seats, very nice but painted over like 50 million times so I will have to do a lot of stripping.

    Is that top slate? What a nice change from the marble that you normally see. I have a dresser that was made in the 40's I think, It was my grandmothers, it's a veneer. The top was damaged, looks like someone had nail polish or some sort of perfume, left a terrible mark that will never come out. I had a piece of mirror cut and used that on top of the wood. I felt like the piece looked very art deco and that would be a good choice. Art deco furniture was all about glamour and gleam. Your little cabinet looks like one we had by the phone back in the 60's. At first I thought it was a dry sink but it looks small. Any idea what your furniture piece was used for? That's new hardware for the drawer and door pulls?
     
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  4. Jorge Ruiz

    Jorge Ruiz Member
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    Hey Jenn.

    This piece was a real challenge. It was probably some type of bedroom furniture. When I found it in the village dumpster, the drawer was out-of-whack, there was not top on it and it had been painted with a lead-based olive-green paint, at least an inch thick (you can kind of see it in the before picture).

    First I had to scrape all that paint off (cheated, used a power tool with a rotating knife, getting away from chemical paint removers which burn your skin, smell bad, and would never have gotten through that thick coat of paint anyway!). Then I had to repair the drawer and fill in where the sides had split (probably from temperature changes). The door also had to be fixed (split as well).

    The hardware is all the original, polished up a bit. Top is, indeed, slate. I suspect it had a marble top originally, but I had some second-hand slate about (my back patio was laid with this slate, I believe it was originally part of a building facade, the guy who sold me the house was an electrician who hoarded things from other renovations he worked on and used a lot of that stuff in renovating the house I now live in).

    Glad you like it, I had a good time fixing it up and it now sits in the entry way. The top is where the keys go (so I don't forget where I put them), the drawer is where the dog's papers are and any important stuff like doctor's appointments or bank books, the door opens onto the storage for the dog's lead and some of his squeaky toys.

    peace,
    revel.
     
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  5. Pat Baker

    Pat Baker Well-Known Member
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    Your piece is beautiful. I am one of those people that will pick up a piece of furnutire that just needs some care to bring it back to life. I like to restore old furniture, it is so easy to take the furniture to the Goodwill if you do not want it.

    There was a show on HGTV that showed how to take what you have or purchased from the Goodwill to make it like new to enhance your home. That is my thought, why do I want to spend so much money for something that is not well made when I can go to the Goodwill find something similar it may need a little work but will not cost me all that much money. The time spent in refinishing the item is quality time doing something I love.
     
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  6. Jorge Ruiz

    Jorge Ruiz Member
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    Thanks for the kind words.

    Here's another one (or two) for you all.

    For some reason there always seem to be a lot of kitchen chairs thrown out. They are usually wood framed, with a fake leather seat (kind of vinyl substance), often stuffed with straw or wool (wool just shaved off the sheep, mind you!) and the whole thing is supported underneath with some strips of old tires tacked in a woven fashion.

    These are pretty straight-forward restorations, but I got bored with just covering the seats with a piece of upholstery fabric purchased in this or that shop. My answer, then? Patchwork.

    I remove everything that is not the wood and throw it out (varnish or paint, vinyl, wool or straw, old tires, tacks), I fill in all the tack holes with wood putty, sometimes have to spray worm holes and fill them in as well. Then I either varnish or oil and wax the frame (after a good sanding, of course!). The base is woven blind pulls (these are nylon, about 3/4" wide, very common where I live, you buy them in a roll and they're meant for replacement of a type of window blind to keep out the sun during the day), the stuffing is usually a synthetic white foam (not foam rubber, too hard and it tends to rot over time). Then I hand-make a patchwork for each seat. Here you can see some of those patchworks.

    Pity is, they're so nice looking that my partner won't let me sit on them! We use them in the bedroom to hang our clothes on, I think one is in the guest room for the same use. Thought about hanging them in the stair well (hung as if the wall were the floor, so that the seat was facing out-- I've got a large stairwell!). Though the patchwork is machine sewn, the actual putting together was done by hand, just don't have the same patience as my mum and grandmother to hand sew those and since they were meant as seats and not quilts, figured the machine sewing would be more durable (excuse, that one!). Enjoy.

    peace,
    revel.
    s 05 before.jpg s 04 after.jpg
     
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  7. Von Jones

    Von Jones Very Well-Known Member
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    I like these photos. My grandpa was always in this barn-like building behind their house. I was always by his side as he was working on a project. I had always wondered why I had such a strong drawing to take something old and thrown out and restore it (through trial and error). I found out just last year that he was an interior decorator back in the mid 1900's. Go figure :rolleyes:.
     
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