Sunday, June 19, 2011

Things (Chairs) Fall Apart

 If you build furniture and especially chairs, at some point you will be asked to fix something.  It's not a matter of if, but rather when.  In this case an old, heavily built pine chair collapsed.  The tenon into the seat snapped off and down she came, breaking off another couple tenons in the process.  Things fall apart, the center cannot hold. 

 In this case, I was lucky in that they were clean breaks, no long jagged splits.  Of course the question is whether or not the fix is worth it must be considered.  I leave that up to the them, but usually the piece has far more sentimental value than monetary, but at any rate, every fix is different and often the hardest decision is where to draw the line.  This chair was actually in pretty good shape, and with such clean breaks I proceeded as follows.
First off, I cut the leg off, and using the lathe and a drill chuck, I drilled out the hole and inserted a 5/8 maple tenon into the hole; this becomes a new tenon.  I use epoxy for most repairs like this one where to original glue was PVA, carpenters glue.  I should say here that for all it's good properties, carpenters glue will not bond to itself once it has cured.  It has to be scraped completely off to wood, and reapplied.  This is why I use epoxy.    Be sure to abrade the surfaces with 40 or 60 grit sandpaper, and make sure the fit is kinda loose, not sloppy, but not tight.  Also, thicken the epoxy with sawdust or a product sold by West System, silica dust.

  Like I said, I like West,  and they have a great boat repair manual you can get thru Lee Valley.  I use the high density filler.  Be sure to wear a dust mask, it is silica and can damage your lungs.  I mix it to about peanut butter thickness, maybe a touch thinner than that.

 Here you can see (hopefully) the epoxy smeared into the hole (mortise).  Put plenty in there, you don't want a starved joint.  And try to abrade as much as possible.

 This is where the leg goes into the seat.  Again, plenty of glue on the tenon and in the hole.  Since this is a blind hole ( it doesn't go thru the seat) when you drive the leg in, you will get hydraulic pressure sufficient to prevent proper seating of the leg.  So I drill a small hole that intersects the leg hole.  You can see the tip of the awl in the hole.

 And when the leg is hammered or clamped into the hole, you can see the excess glue coming out the relief hole-- this way the leg will go into the seat all the way.  If you don't drill the relief hole, the leg will sort of go into the hole, and when the clamp is taken off, the leg will move back out of the hole.  This can be very frustrating if you don't understand and know the solution.

Here is the chair with the repaired undercarriage.  I did clamp it up; the legs to the seat and a couple clamps on the stretchers for good measure.  The epoxy I use takes awhile to cure but it does work very well.

 This Sack Back below has a lot of great qualities.  The hands are great,  I will try them on a C-arm.  The turnings are lovely and the overall proportions are very nice.  For a factory chair it is a really nice chair.  The paper on the underside of the seat states it's based on a chair from Monticello.  Unfortunately, the seat has split right in half.  I've had this chair for awhile now, and while I like the chair, it will be a tough fix.  I could just epoxy the split and hope for the best, but I'm not sure how long that would last.  Tough call.  Things fall apart, the center cannot hold.  In this case, literally.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

First Show

Here are some images of projects that I have finished up lately or had new photos taken.  I found a new photographer and she is great, a real sense of color and making a shot work without making it look contrived, so thanks for that.

I haven't posted in a while, but I had a show downstate at Point Lookout in Lincolnville, which went really well.  I met a bunch of super nice people who had nothing but great things to say about the furniture.  I hope they had a good show as well, and I'd like to say thanks to all of them for all the positive comments about the furniture.  This was my first show away from home, and judging fro the wonderful experience, I will be doing more.  

These shots are actually from Wintergreen Arts up here in Presque Isle, not from the show I did downstate.  First show and I forget the camera.  I contacted the show photographer but haven't heard from him yet, hopefully I'll get some photos.  My new photographer put together a slide show of the Wintergreen show which I am going to attempt to link here.  If this doesn't work, check back tomorrow. Wintergreen Slide Show here.  Some really nice photos, thanks Connie.

Another thanks goes out to Ed and Christine at the  Mount Battie Motel in Lincolnville.  Super nice people, great breakfast, reasonable rates, what more could you want.  Also, if your in the mid coast area check out the Thomaston Cafe, my favorite restaurant, great gotta try the crabcakes.

Lastly, another thanks to the attendees of the show who had such nice things to say about my furniture.  Being almost entirely self taught, it's hard sometimes to tell if my work is really good, or if people are just being nice.  The feedback was genuinely positive, so thanks and I hope to hear from all of you soon.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Wintergreen Arts Show

Here's a side chair with a different finish, clear this time.  A lot of people ask me for these or if I do something unpainted, so here it is.  I did a sack back settee like this a few years ago, but this one is my design.  Like any new chair, the first one is never really right.  But with chairs, you never really know what they will sit like until it's done. 

 This one has a few things I'll change on the next ones.  First, the front legs will move back, more under the seat and with less rake.  And the back spindles are just a little too upright, a couple degrees more rake there will make the chair more comfortable.   I am really happy with the way the seat came out.  The figure and color are beautiful, and the shape is very pleasing to my eye. 
When I say rake and splay, these refer to the way the legs, arms and spindles lean back or forward and also how they lean to the side.  Just like masts on ships, rake refers to the tilt of parts forward and backward.  Splay (or flare) refers to the lean to the side. 

Here are the pieces I took to the show at Wintergreen Arts for my show Friday.  Below you see a walnut wall cabinet with a tombstone glass door and a Shaker clock. 

 The blanket chest is new, really came out great.
Here is the unfinished side chair.  I'm calling it the Allagash Side Chair, and behind it a Linen Press painted mustard yellow.  And on the right is the Rod Back Arm Chair I made for my father.