Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Redeeming Chippendale

"Chippendale is often accused of being the biggest plagarist and overrated designer of all time. Many people consider that all he did was take the Queen Anne style and embelish it with the rococo. However, he was responsible for bringing about the birth of a uniquely English style. Admittedly, his designs owe much to the previous generation but Chippendale is an unmistakable individual style. His importance rests in the fact that he was the first English cabinetmaker to publish a comprehensive pattern book that tied all the loose ends of prevailing taste such as rococo, Gothic and Chinese into an intelligble and unique style."

-Tristan Salazar, The Complete Book of Furniture Restoration

Monday, March 28, 2011

Stickley Brothers Dining Table Sneak Peak

Been restoring a Stickley Brothers (Grand Rapids, MI) dining table for a client. The finish on the top was mostly worn through. I removed the remaining failed coating and finished back to original integrity. Here is a sneak peak. More pictures to come...

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Shop Visit with the Venerable Bruce Hamilton

My wife and I went down toward Boston recently and met up with high-class furniture restorer Bruce Hamilton and his dear wife. After a generous lunch, we enjoyed shop talk and a tour. What a treat is was to rub shoulders with such a high level gentleman and craftsman. Truly an honor. Thanks for the afternoon, Bruce.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Free Summer Antique Restoration Class!

Have you ever tried to restore your great grandmother's old dresser only to end up disappointed? Ever been perplexed at the infinite choices in the finishing aisle at your local hardware store? Ever wished someone could just explain the "right" way to preserve antique furniture? Then we have the event for you...

Furniture Restorer, Joshua A. Klein of Brooklin, Maine will be teaching a summer class at the Blue Hill Library on June 18th, 2011. The title of the class is "Restoring Your Heirlooms: Fundamental Considerations for Furniture Restoration". We will be covering topics such as Terminology, Value Considerations, Methodology, and much more! The class begins at 10 am and goes until 12 am. All are heartily invited to bring their questions, notebooks for note-taking, and even small pieces of furniture for evaluation (time permitting)! We look forward to seeing you there!

Friday, March 11, 2011

An Unsurpassed Introduction to Shellac

Throughout my time at The National Institute of Wood Finishing, I was privileged to sit under Mitch Kohanek, founder and instructor for the school. Mitch has written this brief introduction to one of the most delightful wood finishes in history: shellac. Under Mitch's careful instruction, I developed a love for this material unmatched by any other coating. Mitch, in this article, lays out the benefits, nuances, and methodological considerations for this most choice of finishes. This is perhaps the single best introductory article I've read on the topic. Enjoy.

Monday, March 7, 2011

"Organic" Woodworking

"When they first started, organic farmers were ridiculed by the establishment as "mud and muck" freaks. Now, demand for their product far outstrips supply, and with farming problems as they are, I think they will have the last laugh. No one has grasped this particular nettle when it comes to woodworking. I often feel that the craftsman of today is recreating in his little heaven the very hell that the industrialists of the last century were so soundly drubbed for. Woodworkers should look anew at their hand tools. Take the meanest, rustiest plane you have. Clean it, grind and sharpen the blade like a razor, and then set it up. Now with the plane set very fine, run it over a scrap of oak. Hear the sound it makes, and feel the perfect finish. What a thrill!

I have worked with machines in other people's employ. I have owned some machines myself. Years ago, I examined what I was doing and went organic. I haven't regretted it once. It was a renewal of my love affair with wood. We must do our best to turn things around. We must educate ourselves and our customers to realize what quality really means, quality in making, quality in design, and finally, quality in life."

-John Brown, Welsh Chairmaker, November 1997

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Something Else Other Than What it Looks Like

"Every once in a while, someone says to me, “Say, I’ve got something I want you to look at. Maybe you can tell me what kind of wood it is.” Well, once I used to fall for that bait. I used to bite like a trout in a spring rain. A hungry trout at that. But no more. I’m an old fish now, and experience has taught me caution.

What happens every time is that I get shown some trick piece of furniture. Sometimes it’s swamp oak or some other rare breed cut at a funny angle across the grain so that it looks like chestnut. Or maybe it is a poplar table top stained and finished to look like cherry (one of the commonest tricks or the trade). Or somebody will have bleached and stained large-pored mahogany to look like walnut. Don’t ask me why they did it. Cabinetmakers are mostly crazy, anyway. Not to mention that they are all frustrated forgers at heart.

So now when anyone asks me what some wood is, I immediately figure that it has to be something else other than what it looks like. So if it looks like oak I say it’s chestnut. And vice versa and et cetera. This way I manage to preserve my dignity at least a good 50 per cent of the time. Before that, I was batting zero."

-George Grotz ‘The Furniture Doctor'