It’s been a while since I posted last, and there have been several changes in life. Just a quick rundown: I’ve changed Jobs twice, gained another kiddo, moved, and gotten about 3-1/2 years older. …Have I been lazy ;-)…
Anyhoo, as life moves on, things happen.
My daughter received a Bedroom set from my stepdad’s family, that they have had since the 40’s. We can get into that some other time if anyone is interested. This is one of the sets that became popular as WWII was drawing to a close, and new manufacturing methods were emerging to produce affordable furniture for families adjusting to life in a post-war era.
Her bed, in particular, has seen 70+ years of use, my step dad even recalls jumping off of the footboard as a kid, something he yelled at me not to do as I was growing up with it in our house. Time finally caught up with the stress. When we received it, I noticed some cracking around the mounting slot for the rail into the footboard, but it was still holding, so I made note that it would need future attention. After our recent move in May, went to re-assemble the bed in her new room, and when I tried to scoot it into place….CRACK!
Out popped a loosened piece of wood and the retaining pins that held the rails in. What to do, scrap it and buy a new one, or… repair it since it has been in the family so long, and I really want it to continue to live on. Repairs have been becoming more and more rare in this disposable society…. I digress…
The rail had pulled the retaining pins through the wood, splintering out a rather large section, when it used to look like this:
What to do? The best idea that I could come up with was to remove the section that was damaged and infill it with fresh wood. I knew that would require recutting the slot and refitting the pins. As I looked closer, I realized that the slot was curved on the inside, so I figured they must have buried a blade into the wood to hollow out the slot, and inserted the pins from the inside, and capped the holes with dowels. Should be do-able.
To remove the damaged area, I made a series of cuts with the circular saw, with the depth set to match the depth of the slot the best that I could. the waste was able to be knocked out with with a hammer and chisel. The sawdust really looked like Pine, so I should be able to match the wood species fairly closely, but you can’t get pine with that tight of grain anymore…. Old growth stuff, not the speed forested stuff you find today.
After Chiseling, had one surprise, the small hole shows where a nail had been added for reinforcement. Thankfully I saw it before doing the relief cuts…
Here’s the plug cut to infill, cut it a smidgee short, so the little ship at the top will close the gap and tighten it up… I also cleaned up the chisel marks a bit to make a cleaner gluing surface.
When in doubt, clamp it out. (Thanks to Bessey for the Christmas Prize pack from a couple years ago, Love them!)
Had a little extra width on the inside, trimmed it up with the flush cut saw. I did get a bit of scuffing, but we’ll clean that up later.
Then came the sanding. …and plenty of it. I sanded the infill piece smooth with the original, and tired to remove as much of the finish as I could, ending at a natural transition point. I left some of the finish, thinking it would help add a bit of patina and not let the repair stand out so much. In hindsight, I wish I had gone ahead and removed all the original finish in those areas… It does make the repaired area stand out more.
There’s no sample card on this bed, and the sample pieces on the store shelf only give you so much info… I bought a few different types of finishes, and did a sample board with a few coats of each on an offcut from the infill piece. In this case, I went with the water based pre-stain conditioner, and the Minwax Polyshades.
It’s definitely a multi-step process….
After about 4 coats, I got to a pretty close match. However, this left the rest of the board looking very tired and worn, compared to the new and shiny coating.
After looking at the rest of the footboard, I noticed some of the old finish flaking off, and realized it must be shellac, due to the color and the way the flakes cracked. I tested it in a little bit of dewaxed shellac, and it dissolved…. so I gave the rest of the headboard a wipedown in the shellac, which blended the old finish a bit and deepened the existing color. It also went a long way to hiding a lot of the scratches, some put there by my stepdad, and some by me 🙂
But how to make it look like this:
Looking closer at the slot, I realized that my 7-1/4″ blade on my circular saw was not a big enough diameter, and that I would have to use the 10″ blade on the tablesaw. After measuring the location of the slot, and bracing the footboard super carefully, I turned the saw on and raised the blade up and in to the proper depth.
Maybe I should have measured twice….
Oops, a little off center, but it will do. Holes drilled in the side to accept the pins.
Thinking about it, I realized the original pins were very short, and were not likely spreading out the pressure very well, so I decided to make my pins long enough to fill the whole hole.
It didn’t take long to cut the pins and clean up the ends on the grinder…
…and driven into place.
…with a little fussing because of the new slot and tight tolerances, I got ‘er all put back together, and ready to go. This should do for now. I will get it on record, however, that there are repairs coming in the future. The way the metal plate attaches to the ends of the rails, and the fit on the headboard into the posts are starting to loosen with time. I will need to address those at some point in the future. My daughter will rest easy for now, though, until we need to revisit and make further repairs.
Keep the classics alive, they are a part of history. It’s always worth attempting a repair first, before just throwing away the past.