The case of the poor kitchen drawer

We pride ourselves in being a ‘one-stop-shop’ for all furniture restoration services but I wanted to take a moment to show you just how far we’ll reach to help out someone in need.  So what if it’s not a chair leg or dining table top?

The call came in around 9 am…

Me:  “Lauer Furniture, this is Mike”

Caller:  “Hey, would you be able to fix a silverware drawer?”

Me:  “Absolutely!”

Later that afternoon, the poor little drawer arrived.  If I’m being honest, it looked like it was used in a WWE wrestling match.  It was almost broken into all the pieces it was made of.  Unfortunately, the faithful silverware drawer was constructed of particleboard and alas, had served up its last silverware organizer…  Or had it?

I decided to make a new drawer.  I used solid Red Oak because it’s what the drawer face was constructed of, and the face -constructed from solid wood, not particleboard- was the only part that wasn’t broken!  Here are some pictures I took along the way.

Broken Kitchen Drawer

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Uh, yeah. I wanted to ask what happened to it, but because it's just a silverware drawer and it was completely destroyed - I thought that might be inappropriate.

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The correct way to repair a broken chair stretcher

I see a lot of bad repair jobs come through my shop and most of the time, the furniture is here to have the repair repaired! I thought I’d publish an article on correctly performing a very common repair on a typical chair – a broken stretcher. I’ve seen repairs using everything from sheetrock screws to duct tape and everything in between but instead of reaching for the Gorilla glue(this stuff doesn’t belong on the list of things that exist on our planet), you may as well fix it in a lasting way.

It’s difficult to say what the hardest part of this repair is.  Some shops would argue it’s in the shaping of the new wood, while others might contend that matching the color and finish of the new wood to the old is where they struggle.  As for me, I don’t break it down that way.  This whole process to me, is pure fun.  I love matching things and trying to make it look like it never happened – it’s a challenge every time, but always entertaining.

Lets move on and I’ll show you exactly what happens when you bring a poor little chair with a broken stretcher to Lauer Furniture Restoration.  It’s worth mentioning that this repair method applies to more than just a broken stretcher – this technique is the correct way to repair many furniture breaks including chair back spindles and legs, table legs and more. It’s a solid method and properly executed, it’s literally as strong as it was new.

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Front bottom stretcher is broken off clean at both ends.

 

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Painting furniture – Should I use latex or oil paint?

painting furniture - oil vs latex paint

I’m addressing this question because it comes up rather often from our customers.  “I’m painting a piece of furniture in my home.  What type of paint should I use?  Oil?  Latex?  What’s the difference and which is the right choice for my project?”  While this is not necessarily a difficult topic to cover, it is one which harbors tons of curiosity.  Search the web for “oil paint vs latex paint” and you’ll find tons of sites and posts but no real answers.  I’m hoping this will become the DeFacto reference for painting furniture and why you may choose oil paint or latex paint to complete your project.   [click to continue…]

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1800’s Cupboard gets a facelift

Here’s an early 1800’s cupboard made from solid walnut.  Walnut is a very traditional, very ‘American’ wood and this cupboard wears it quite nicely.  This piece was missing a door and needed to be completely restored.  It had little original finish to preserve and needed some significant repairs.  One of the most challenging tasks of this job was to cut two pieces of molding for the top.  The piece had lost its two upper-side moldings so we cut two brand new ones and colored them to match the patina that only aged wood will display.  Additionally, a door was crafted to install in place of the missing one.

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Found on the side of the road!

It amazes me when I think of the amount of trash we humans produce on a daily basis.  Milk jugs, soda cans, paper towels, empty cereal boxes – you name it.  Luckily for the planet, we have the option to recycle.  Speaking of trash and recycling, I was driving down the road when I drove past this wonderful oak coffee table.  It was on the side of the road in the rain and had the leg broken off of it.  I’m just glad the owners didn’t cut it up and use it for firewood!  I quickly loaded it up.

Once I got it back to the shop, I had an opportunity to fully assess the damage.  One of the legs was completely broken off and the other three legs were about 50% broken off.  In addition to that, parts of the apron(the flat wood that butts against top and runs around the table) were missing/broken – that is to say that this table needed some wood added to make it whole again.  After the repairs, the table needed to be stripped and refinished.

This table was constructed in the 1930’s from quartersawn oak.  As Jim said, “The things people throw away…”

 

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Farm table reveals its true color

When this farm table was found, it was covered in no fewer than 10 coats of paint. Painted Farm TableI suspect this piece was made in the 1940’s and through the years, it must have been owned, owned and re-owned because it had so many layers of paint on it that it was almost soft.Painted Farm Table Though its construction is solid oak, it was very poorly assembled initially – probably from a kit. Full reconstruction and refinishing was the only way this table would please again.

The first thing that needed to be done was to remove all the paint. This process took hours and required multiple techniques and approaches. We first used a heat gun and scraper to remove the upper-most layers of paint. Once we broke through those layers, a chemical stripper was used to remove the final layers.table sanded

The table was then completely disassembled and sanded to bare wood. At this point it was necessary to modify the assembly of the structure. The legs were initially attached to the apron using some metal angle braces and wing nuts. This would definitely not suffice if this table were to actually be used for anything and not just on display. A plate joiner was used to cut slots in both the legs and the apron and biscuits inserted. Mortise and Tenon joinery is much preferred to the biscuit method and if we were to build this table from scratch, there would have been an opportunity to cut tenons in the apron and mortises in the legs but because we were reconstructing this table, the plate joiner was an ideal choice. The legs and apron were glued and clamped creating an extremely strong table base.

Once assembly was complete, the table was stained using Minwax brand “Dark Walnut”. We use this oil stain all the stained farm tabletime because it has a wonderful dark brown almost black color and it seems to turn out really well on almost all types of wood. Once the stain dried completely, the table was sprayed with sanding sealer, sanded with 320 grit sand paper and finally, sprayed with a catalyzed lacquer for extreme moisture resistance and long lasting durability.finished table

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