Wednesday, March 22, 2017

A memorable repair...

There isn't a day that passes that I don't get a call about repairing a broken piece of furniture. I would guess that I turn down 75% of those requests. It's just not what I specialize in, nor do I make "house calls" to even take a look at some of the repairs. It's not that I don't enjoy that type of work, it's just that many of the pieces aren't worth what it would cost to repair them. Simple Economics 101.

True story - I once repaired a rocking chair what was in 40+ pieces - someone had thrown it off a roof. And they wanted it repaired and put back together, sort of like Humpty Dumpty.

Not quite this bad, but close...

 Let's face it - I'm a furniture maker, not a miracle worker!

Most of the time - I turn down the work, because frankly - when you start pulling apart some pieces of furniture, you end up discovering so many flaws, defects and problems that it's often a rabbit hole of woodworking hell. It's hard to give someone a quote on what it would cost, when you have no idea how significant the damage is...

So when someone contacted me recently about repairing a rocker, my first reaction was to turn it down. But - after a little explanation that there was a really good reason to repair it - I agreed. As the story went - this rocker was part of a beloved relative's passing -  so it held great sentimental value. 

How could I turn that one down?

Much to my surprise - this piece turned out really well on so many levels. Relatively easy to repair, and I even earned some karmic points for it!

This chair had these two broken legs, which required making some new components on the lathe. 

These two pieces snapped right off at the tenon!

 I couldn't figure out the type of wood these original pieces were made of, but I had some nice thick Cherry in the shop, so that pretty much made the decision for me. 

 I wouldn't say I'm a great wood turner, 

but I can get by...

Here's the old piece next to the new one. 

I had to find a gold Sharpie to do a little highlighting. 

The hardest part was drilling four angled holes, but tilting the drill press table solved that dilemma.  

After the new parts were made, I re-assembled the base to ensure that everything fit together. 


Time to put it all together.

There were a few cracks in the seat that required some creative glue strategies. With a syringe and some Titebond... I managed to squeeze some glue in the cracks and pull everything back together. 

It might not hold, but for now, the cracks were mended. 

Notice these two custom cauls - with a little sandpaper on them, 

so they don't slip out of place when I tightened the clamps. 

Here's the best part - after the owner picked up the chair and delivered it back to his mom (it was her chair) - he sent me this lovely note:


 I can't thank you enough for the wonderful job you did on the rocking chair. I just dropped it off to my mother and tears just keep coming. It was a priceless moment I'll never forget thanks to your hard and professional work. You have a customer for life. And thank you for taking on the task. :) I wish I could share the joy you created. My mother still in tears shares her thanks with a warm heart. 

I can't thank you enough, 


 It's corny to say this, but getting messages like this is what keeps me doing repairs! 

1 comment:

Dean Mosey said...

Jamie, That appears to be an older Hitchcok rocker from the late 50's or 60's . They were generally well constructed chairs almost always (and still are) predominately constructed of maple. I have repaired, restored and/or completely refinished hundreds of them over the past 45+ years. Curious as to why you did a complete re-turn on the leg that simply had a broken tenon. Unless the leg had a grain fracture along the leg, it would have been satisfactory to drill out and install a new stub tenon. Those legs are meaty enough to "go deep" in and have a repair that is literally every bit as strong as the original....sometimes stronger. In terms of economics, you save a leg with less time involved by having to not match the existing finish AND the finish condition/patina. You did an excellent job .....just curious. You are so right about the thank you notes. They are often few and far apart so when you get is indeed special. N.Dean Mosey Jr, Mosey's Woodworks, Flushing MI