Friday, October 1, 2010

Before and After: Antique Rocking Chair Restoration

This isn't really a makeover, but more of a restoration project. I tried hard to keep this piece as close to the state it was in when I got it, only not broken.

A very sweet friend of mine spotted this antique rocking chair while she was out one day and asked the seller how much he wanted for it. When he told her the price was $10, she asked him to hold it for her, then she called me and told me about it and we drove over to see it together.

The sweet old man who owned the rocker didn't know its exact age but estimated it to be about 100 years old. It was in pretty bad shape, but for $10 I thought that it would be worth trying to save.

There was some pretty serious damage and a few crude repairs had already been made to it along the way.

Click on the photo to get a better idea of the problems this rocker had.

This is the fabulous product that saved the day.

I'd never used it before but had seen a professional in an upholstery shop using it to rebuild the corner of a wooden chest that had been chewed up by a dog. It's an epoxy putty and comes in a roll, wrapped in plastic, inside a plastic tube.

You slice off a hunk of it and you'll see that there are two different colored components.

You knead these two components together and they react to one another to form a very strong, binding substance that dries very hard, like wood.
One of the broken back spindles had a gap between it and the seat, so after driving a screw through the bottom of the seat up into the spindle to stabilize it, I rebuilt the missing part with the Kwik Wood.

This is before I sanded it smooth, but you get the idea. You just use the putty like clay to sculpt or fill in the damaged areas of the furniture. When it's dry you sand it and paint or stain it.
Gorilla Glue was another key player in this project. The arms got glued to the back then secured with tape until it dried. You can also see in this photo some other areas of the base that were repaired with the Kwik Wood.

Next I worked on the seat. It had become detached from the base and was no longer even touching it in the back.

I tried using a few globs of Gorilla Glue and a clamp, but that wasn't going to be enough.

You'll see in this photo that at some point someone had attached the wooden seat with a bunch of tacks. (Do you see the star design the holes make?)
I removed the tacks along the back and drilled screws through a few of the holes to reattach the seat.

Using wire snippers I clipped the heads off 3 of the tacks...

... then used my trusty Gorilla Glue to stick them on top of the screws to hide them.

The other tacks got hammered gently back into place and the seat was fixed.

Once I got to this point I wasn't sure what else to do. I sanded down the wood epoxy as best I could, then left the rocker to sit for a couple of months while I worked on other things. All I really had left to do was hide the repaired areas somehow, but I was really nervous that I'd screw it up.

Finally I got up the nerve to try it and pulled out a little can of walnut gel stain that I had lying around. Turns it out was the very thing I needed.

It covered the light colored putty and blended beautifully with the antique wood. You can still see the repairs, but they're not glaringly obvious.

The whole rocker got a good cleaning with some Orange Glow and now it's usable and beautiful again.

Aren't those brass caps on the back cool?

It still looks old and imperfect, but that's what I like most about it.


Kathleen said...

I'm LOVING your blog, which I've just discovered! I'm a scavenger, recycler, and LOVE old things. My biggest problem with them is WHERE to put them when I'm finished with them. I am going to save your blog and revisit often. I think I can learn much from your methods of repairing/refinishing!
Thank you for your posts!

Angie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
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