Wednesday, November 30, 2016

More Upholstery Conservation

Mahogany Armchair 

I want to show another project in the shop which is being restored.  In my normal business operation I work each week on similar projects for maximum efficiency.   One week will be repairs, another will be veneer or marquetry, the next may be surface preparation and then a week of polishing.  At that point the shop is usually clean so I can do some upholstery.

This past week has been upholstery.  Hence the post yesterday.

Today I want to follow up with an armchair made in the Great Lakes region around 1890.  These lather covered chairs were popular with the railroad and land barons of that Gilded Era.  This one is covered in black oil cloth, which is no longer made so it will be restored in leather.

Missing wheels.  Original wood finish.

Looking underneath I found the label of the last person to work on it.

He was trying to repair the springs by replacing the webbing only.  Note my comments in the previous post on why this is not the best approach.  However, his repair got the chair this far, only because it was in storage for most of that time.

Poor effort to sew springs to jute

One problem with just replacing the webbing is that it is difficult to properly sew the springs in place.  This photo shows his effort, which was insufficient to do the job.

Seat springs from top
This shows the springs after the seat foundation is removed.  Springs are not in proper position and cord is broken.  I removed them, cleaned up the area with a vacuum and used tufting twine to properly sew them in place, tying the tops with 8 no† Italian cord.

Starting the removal of upholstery foundation

Here I have already removed the side arm stuffing.  Next is the careful removal of the seat and back, layer by layer, tack by tack.

Jute webbing failure to support springs

One of the great things about traditional upholstery is that you can learn how to do it by careful observation of the process during deconstruction.  Removing layer by layer teaches the worker how to put it back in the same way.  The main goal is to conserve springs and stuffing while replacing jute, burlap, muslin and cotton.

Front of back spring package
On the back the original method was to secure the smaller springs only with twine, cover †hem with burlap and then sew them to the burlap.  This saves time and money.

Chair laying down with new burlap

Seat foundation material

At this point the original stuffing can be cleaned of tacks, vacuumed and carefully positioned in its original location.  New muslin is tacked over this.

Nice and even work

Getting ready for final stages of work.
Now I need to get some leather and begin tacking the cover.  I can also spend some time on cleaning and waxing the wood.


Paul Bouchard said...

Whenever I've told people I work in animation they almost always say, "that must be soooo much work". When I see what goes into re-upholstering furniture, I think the same thing.

W. Patrick Edwards said...

I have done a lot of public demonstrations over the years. One standard comment I have heard thousands of times is "That must take a lot of patience!" Depending on my energy level, I either respond with a long answer or a short answer, but the point of the answer is "No. It only takes passion."

On another post I mentioned my hero, Toshio Odate, a famous woodworker, who would respond to the same question with "Why would I do something in 10 minutes that I could do all day?"

If you love what you do it is not work.