Friday, 28 August 2015

Cupboard repair...

We have a fair bit of furniture in our house from the 1950's and some built during the second world war, it's good stuff, although these days people don't seem to go for brown furniture that much, they much prefer to murder it with paint shabby chic it, but we like it.

The problem is that it's not always in perfect condition, and some times small repairs are needed, which was the case with this small cupboard we got free.

Looks pretty good now it's done (well we think it does) -

This is where it lives now.
It had some damage to the side, and it was quite obvious and not easily hidden.

The damage - 

Not great.

So how to fix it? well it just so happens my lovely wife bought me a book on furniture restoration a while ago, so I thought I'd put some of what I've learnt into practice.

Basically I had to repair the plywood that had broken off, obviously if I was going to paint this I could have just filled it with a bit of car body filler, but as we wanted to keep it as original as possible that wasn't an option.

The first thing to do was find a bit of plywood that had a similar grain to the original, once I found that I then had to make it thinner, I could have gone online and found a veneer perhaps, but this fix cost about 50 pence (the cost of the plywood)

I clamped a small piece of the plywood in my vice and cut it down the middle with a had saw, I made sure I cut enough to allow for mistakes.

Clamped and cutting started - 

I used some off cuts to stop the vice marking the wood.

Once I'd cut the wood I then had to sand it down on the opposite side to make it thin enough to match the thickness of the original plywood.

Cut and ready for sanding - 

This is the side that will be stuck to the cupboard.

Sanded to more or less what I needed thickness wise - 

The curve won't matter once glued down.

Next I had to prepare the cupboard, this was just a matter of marking around the damaged part and then tidying it up.

The wood inside the pencil marks is to be removed - 

Next a bit of careful surgery.

Using a square and a sharp knife I cut along the pencil lines, making sure not to push too hard as I didn't want to cut the wood any more than I needed, this wasn't too hard, and once I'd cut along the lines I used the blade to carefully lift the wood away from the cupboard, and I was left with a nice neat rectangle.

Most of the wood removed, it came up easily - 

Much easier to fix when you have tidy edges.

When I'd removed all the unwanted bits I then had to cut my patch, I did this using the sharp knife and a square to get the edges nice and clean, then it was just a matter of gluing the patch onto the cupboard, I left some over hang on the front and top edges so that I could take a little off at a time, it's easier to take a little off than it is to add a bit, it was a little proud of the original wood, but a light sand fixed that.

Patch stuck down, just needs trimming - 

A good fit, the grain isn't quite the same, but it'll do.

And now the tricky bit, colouring the new bit of wood to match the old, this is difficult because a lot of what gives a piece of furniture like this it's colour (patina) is age, years of being polished and if we're being honest the build up of dirt over the years as well.

Wood stain added - 

Needs some tweaking.

The colour isn't too bad, and it has to be better than having a big chunk missing, I'm still tweaking the colour to see if I can get it a little closer to the old wood, in some lights it's hardly noticeable, but all in all I'm much happier with it now it's been repaired, and apart from the colour matching issues it was an easy fix, so now I won't be quite so quick to write of a piece of furniture because it has a bit of damage, we can rebuild it.

Seems less obvious now it's in it's place in the front room - 

Just don't look too closely ;-)
Thanks for reading.

Sunday, 9 August 2015

Garden chair fix...

Sometimes it's worth looking in what I call the 'sin bins' in your local diy shops, most places have them, and most of the time it'll just be random off cuts from where they've cut large sheets of material for people, but every now and then you might find some thing a little more interesting.

Like this -

It's a garden chair.
Yes we found a garden chair like the ones that come in sets with a table and umbrella, in this picture it doesn't look too bad, but it was damaged in a couple of places, and to be honest I wouldn't have taken it if it weren't for the table base that was with it.

This table base - 

Perfect for patching up the chair.
Two of the chair legs were broken, one not as bad as the other, but because we also had the table base, which was also broken we had the perfect material for repairing the chair.

The damage - 

Easy enough to fix.
More damage - 

This is a little more problematic to repair.
I decided that although the legs from the table were longer, they were also the best bet for fixing each leg, so I took the table base apart.

The table legs had a fixing point at the top that matched the chair, it was just a matter of adding the right holes in the right places.

I fixed the old chair leg to the table leg, so that I could get things lined up.

Like so - 

The long groove holds a pin that allows the chair to fold up.
Then using a drill bit with a depth guide on it I drilled out the groove, I didn't bother with the mortises, just the groove for the pin that allows the chair to fold up.

Drilling out the groove - 

I could have used the depth guide on the post drill.

Groove drilled out - 

Ready for the router.

Next I used my router with a straight bit that matched the hole size I'd drilled to tidy the groove up, I could have skipped the drilling and just used the router, but I wanted to make sure the groove was in the right place.

Groove done - 

Spot the problem.

As you can see there was a small problem, that being one of the fixing points on the table leg, and as there's a pin that slides up and down the groove I had to plug the hole to stop the pin from catching, this isn't a difficult thing to do, all you need is a plug cutter, a bit of wood that matches and some glue.

Unfortunately my plug cutters are a bit old, and probably in need of a sharpen, so they tend to burn the wood, it wasn't until after I'd finished the whole chair it struck me that I could have just used my lathe to make some plugs.

Cutting plugs ( it got a bit smoky) - 

Time for a new set of cutters perhaps ?

Once I'd cut a plug or two (I cut them from the old chair legs) I then used them to fill the gaps.

Plug in place - 

Just needs sanding.

Plug sanded - 

The down side of old plug cutters.

Because the wood got burned when I cut the plugs I was left with a dark ring around each plug, but because you won't see where the plugs are I wasn't too worried.

There were a couple of other holes to fill, but in the end once I'd cut the extra off the new legs I had two pretty good replacements.

New legs - 

They do the job nicely.

The last job was to fix the bar back onto the legs to stop them coming apart which would have meant the pins sliding out of the grooves every time the chair was folded.

For this I just cut the broken tenon of the bar, and used a couple of wood screws on each side to hold it in place, and again I plugged the holes.

New bar screwed in place - 

Now to fill the holes.

More plugs cut and fitted into place - 

They don't stand out too badly.

And that was it, a garden chair that probably would have ended up as fire wood given a new lease on life, looks even better now it's had a sand and a generous coat of tung oil.

Good as new - 

And comfy too.

So it's worth looking in the 'sin bin' once in a while, even if you don't find a chair sometimes there's useful bits of wood, I recently found a small piece of plywood that's going to be ideal for a cupboard repair I have to do.

Thanks for reading.