No Longer a Pile of Loose Pieces
September 04, 2013
Today I took the last steps to make sure that all the repaired and prepared pieces fit together well.
This chair didn’t have only wooden joints, but some early flat- and round head screws were used to lock the seat to the back and the lower arms to the sides of the seat and uprights (the chair back).
Most of the metal fasteners attached to seat joints that were damaged and weakened by splits, etc., or further weakened by added fasteners. Since I had restored 3 of the 4 seat joints (where the once solid wood was split apart, but now was glued back together), it was the moment of truth to:
1. Accurately drill out the original screw holes that I’d plugged.
2. Be sure I had either the correct original fasteners, or faithful replacements, and…
3. Actually pull those joints back together as they’d been long ago. This was a bit hairy — would the restored joints stand up to the intense forces I was now subjecting them to? Yes! They all held — it was gratifying indeed.
If Only His Mom Could See It Now
After that, feeling how strong the lower arms were, made me think of the owner’s mother. She wouldn’t be bothered by their wobbliness now!
I then proceeded with test fitting the rest of the chair. With only a little easing of a couple of too-tight joints, it all fit well and was truly ready to glue back together for the next 100 years. I was so ready to reglue it all at last.
Then, as typically happens when clear sailing seems at hand — a last minute glitch. One of the upper back rails (horizontal members), third from top, dropped some frass — old powder post beetle dust, on my bench top. NOT good! This showed they’d been burrowing inside, turning solid wood to tunnels and… frass.
Okay, should I treat the source to fry the bugs and strengthen the affected wood? Or, as I so wanted to do, just assume it’s really not a problem and just get to what I really wanted to do: glue that chair. But no, the standard here is, “Do it really right.”
So, after fixing the bug problem, tonight’s quitting time is 8pm instead of 6. But there’ll be no unpleasant bug surprises down the road. Plus, I got to reglue it anyway. It will be like a rock.
And kudos to this chair’s owner for caring enough that this heirloom be done really right.
Next – reproduce the missing upper arms and install the gingerbread pieces we’ve made, and put it all together, restored to its original form at last.