In response to requests


The two most viewed articles on this blog are: Troubleshooting Power Recliners, and Thomasville Bed Rail Repair. I’m frequently asked about parts and where to find them. There are some that I just cannot locate a vendor for, so I decided to find a company that can produce them me and offer them through this blog. Below are a couple of drawings I did in SketchUp to provide to the prospective vendor.

Dozens and dozens of people have inquired about the simple bed rail hook. For decades, many manufacturers used hook on rails for very expensive beds, and they can become loose and eventually come out after years of usage. I came up with a simple design that will permanently resolve this common issue. In the near future, I’ll be able to ship them to anyone who is in need at an inexpensive price. Why replace a perfectly good bed because the rails fail?

Having spent years as an on-site repairman, there were always things I needed when out in the field that cannot be found at Home Depot or Ace Hardware. They’re just too specific. Upholsterers and service techs always are replacing the clips that hold the seat springs to the frame. They get loose and come out, or sometimes just bend open enough to allow the end of the sinuous spring to come out. They are a pain to replace with the original type- which will most likely fail again. I have a design that will make replacement easy, fast (without fabric tear-down), and will be more reliable than new.

These parts will be available in bulk or by the piece. Once they’re in, I’ll upload short videos to illustrate how to install them.

Spring ClipRight Plate 2

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DIY Mirrored Dresser


The Tamara Blog...

Photo: Pottery Barn

MIrrored Dresser

I’ve been infatuated with these mirrored furniture pieces since they started popping up a few years ago.  Fabulous in an art deco boudoir, and equally welcome in a glitzy dining room, mirrored furniture expands and brightens a room.  I’m not one to succumb to trends, and perhaps this could be a tad trendy, but oooh… it’s so pretty!  The price tag to purchase, however, is prohibitive.  The really beautiful ones start at $800 and go up into the thousands.  Tack on shipping (usually $130 and up), and that’s one pricey piece.

My dresser on set at Home + Family. My dresser on set at Home + Family.

I wanted to see if I could come up with something cheaper and more pride-worthy on my own.  Truth be told, it’s a VERY easy project.

Here’s what you’ll need:

Used or new dresser

Sander (belt sander, oscillating sander, etc.)

Sand paper (for hand-sanding nooks)

Spray Primer –…

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Those pesky unlevel doors


If your doors aren’t level and you have adjustable hinges, then you’re in luck. Here is a one minute video that describes how the typical euro-hinge can be adjusted.

There are variations of this type of hinge, but they all work nearly the same. I get calls quite often on how to adjust doors so that they are even, and it’s tough to try to instruct someone on how to do this over the phone. If the doors are on a piece of furniture, make sure that the item is as level as possible first! Most door issues are due to a piece being on a wooden floor that is not perfectly flat- so use the adjustable floor glides to level the unit first and it may fix the door issue. If it is on a tile or brick floor with many inconsistencies, then level it as best you can and then fine tune the door fit with the adjustable hinges.

The Powder Post Beetle


Search no further for an article that will answer all your questions about the elusive powder post beetle and its relationship to furniture.

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Have you ever seen tiny pin holes in your furniture? Ones that just appear for some reason. Collecting directly under the holes you will see a very neat pile of fine sawdust powder. At first, you may wipe the sawdust away- not knowing what actually caused it, but in a couple of days you find that it has appeared again in another neat little pile. After careful inspection, you find the source which is a tiny little hole. You have a powder post beetle.

Identification and Behavior

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Powderpost beetle is a term used to describe several species of small (1/8-3/4 inches long), wood-boring insects which reduce wood to a fine, flour-like powder. Although there are types that infest just about any type of wood (soft or hard), we will discuss the most common type, the Lyctid. It is usually found in hardwoods that furniture is made from.

Holes made by lyctid beetles are about the diameter of a pinhead whereas exit holes made by other species are slightly larger. Lyctid frass (powder) is extremely fine and feels like talc or flour when rubbed between the fingers. Other beetle frass is also powderlike, but feels gritty. Fresh powder indicates an active infestation. If there is no powder in close proximity to the holes, or no fresh powder is deposited after the area has been cleaned, then it may be inactive due to the mature beetle exiting the piece.

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The boring is done by the larvae as they create narrow, meandering tunnels in wood as they feed. They will usually stay within the very board that they are in, and will eat the wood inside right up to the surface. Sometimes you can tap the wood surface to detect the tunnels by the hollow sound of the tapping.  The holes you see are not entry holes though. These are exit holes where the larvae discard the wood fibers after depleting them of the starches they need for food. The holes will also be the exit for the adult once it has matured. Newly-emerged adults will search for a mate in order to lay eggs on or below the surface of bare wood (including trees or unfinished lumber).

Eggs can lay dormant for 1 to 5 years. One expert exterminator has stated that Mother Nature has actually enabled the eggs to lay dormant for decades before hatching. He came to this conclusion due to the treatment of infestations in antiques. Remember that the tiny holes are created as an exit. According to most experts, the eggs were laid in the wood before it was manufactured into a piece of furniture no matter how old it is. You’re just not going to find these insects buzzing around inside your home, mating, and damaging your belongings.

The eggs hatch into tiny larvae which bore into the wood, emerging as adults months later. After feeding for an extended period, the larvae will enter the pupal stage to mature. Adult beetles are rarely seen because their life span is usually a short one, and they are most active at night. I have personally only seen one live beetle even though I have seen dozens and dozens of pieces of furniture with “shot-holes”. I felt lucky to have actually held one in my hand after trying to find them for years.

lumberyard

Imported tropical hardwoods are especially prone to lyctid beetle attack because of poor storage and drying practices prior to shipment to this country. Lumber used to construct houses in the United States are not usually prone to have infestations because of the softer wood (pine) that is used. Many people are concerned their homes are at risk of an infestation when they find evidence of a powder post beetle, but I’ve never heard of a single account of a beetle infesting other areas of a home. This is most likely because: 1- they need a mate in order to reproduce, and 2- They will not deposit eggs into wood that is finished (like furniture, cabinets, and hardwood floors). They need raw hardwood with a crevice to lay the eggs in. Your belongings are pretty safe.

In almost all cases, infestation results from wood that contained eggs or larvae at the time it was placed in the home. This is why most furniture retailers and manufacturers react quickly when an infestation is noticed. The responsibility lies with them, and not a homeowner. Typically, the infested piece was constructed from wood which was improperly dried to an acceptable moisture level (below 10%) or it may have been stored with contaminated boards of raw lumber long enough for adult beetles to lay eggs in.

Prevention and Control

Builders can prevent infestations by using Borates to treat raw wood. They will protect the wood for up to 40 years. Manufacturers can stop active infestations in their lumber by properly drying the lumber to a moisture level below 13% in addition to applying chemicals, but many manufacturers in Asia have a difficult time achieving acceptable moisture levels due to the humid environment. Once furniture is constructed, it may not show evidence of beetles for many years, but I have opened pieces from inbound containers that have visible sawdust on pieces that are just weeks old.

Once a piece has been determined to contain a beetle, it must immediately be quarantined in a warehouse environment while other items on the same container are inspected. Just because one piece of furniture has an infestation, it doesn’t mean that other items will have the same problem, but it is impossible to determine that unless you can find an exit hole with fresh powder residue on the other pieces. To be safe, it is advisable to try to control (exterminate) any beetles that may be in other pieces of furniture that come from the same origin. There are only 2 ways to guarantee that any eggs, larvae, pupae or adult beetles are killed: fumigation or freezing.

fumigation

Fumigation is effective when done correctly. Since it is very expensive, it must be performed correctly by a licensed technician to get your money’s worth. This means that the piece must be opened (uncased) and fumigated in a chamber for at least 5 days in the gas filled environment. The chemicals will enter the wood pores and chambers to kill any active beetles. The furniture has to be exposed to the chemicals for days in order to get the penetration needed to kill the insect. Any treatment or chemical that is merely applied to the surface will not harm the insect at all and will be completely ineffective. There is no way for a do-it-yourselfer to rid a piece of furniture of the beetle by trying to fog, or bug bomb the item under a plastic bag. Use a professional and ask them what their procedure is, and if it comes with a guarantee.

trailer

Freezing is a good approach, but it too has to be done correctly. If an item can be placed in a large walk-in freezer for 5 days at a consistent temperature of 32 degrees Fahrenheit (0 Celsius) or less, it will kill any egg or larvae completely. This should not damage the furniture as long as it is kept dry during this time period. Remember that powder post beetles thrive in warm, moist environments and cold arid air is their enemy. For large quantities of items, a tractor trailer that has refrigeration may be a good alternative since any furniture that is boxed or crated can be left in the original packaging and frozen while the trailer is parked at a bay. This method is less costly, more effective, and can bring peace of mind when there is a question of infestation.

 

 

 

 

 

Top Job: Refinishing a damaged top when the base is fine.


Side table overall

Have you ever had a piece of furniture that was nearly perfect except for the top? Instead of completely refinishing an item, you can just do the top while matching the base perfectly… if you’re careful.

I will be working with a side table that has significant water damage.

Side table top

The first step is to tape off the area that you do not want to damage during the repairs. Here I have used masking tape to tape off the top, and then added a waxed paper to cover and protect the base of the piece. Care still needs to be taken while stripping even though the stripper will not saturate the tape or paper.

Side Table Taped

Make sure to completely strip the finish off by first using a strong gel stripper, and then wash that off with a liquid like lacquer thinner which will evaporate completely. You will then see which area of the top needs the most attention. This top has a mahogany veneer that is very grainy. Notice the grain that has mildewed from the moisture. The mildew has been trapped in the grain, but this can be remedied with bleach.

Side Table Stripped

After applying some bleach and letting it set for a few minutes, the mildew begins to disappear. After the wood has completely dried, the sanding can begin. Start with 100 grit, and finish sand with 150  or 180 grit.

End Table Bleached

After sanding, apply the correct color of stain. I prefer a saturating stain such as Minwax. Since this piece has a reddish color, I chose to use a cherry stain mixed with a little chestnut stain. You can add another coat to get it deeper, or wash it with lacquer thinner to lighten it if it is darker than the base. Get the color right before applying the clear finish! I Always favor keeping the color on the light side rather than trying to darken it up all the way at the beginning. There are many easy ways to make the color darker, but is is impossible to make the color lighter once you have sprayed or brushed the top coats of finish.

Side Table Top Stained

Blend the stain and feather the color on the surface. From here you can seal the top with sealer or lacquer and begin to add the distress with a grease pencil or stain. You can also add color by sprayed a tinted toner lacquer that has a transparent color like cherry red or mahogany to deepen the color or further blend in inconsistencies. After this step, I will add the distress and seal it with clear lacquer. Lastly, I’ll tone the entire top slightly by adding a cherry dye to the lacquer to even the color and match the base.

I will provide finished photos after placing the item in the home.

King Bed Re-Style


 Cover

“Personally, I love the idea of refinishing, or re-purposing furniture. If you own a nice piece of furniture and get tired of it, you should always consider doing something with it before purchasing new furniture. Refinishing or reupholstering old furniture makes it as good as (if not better) than something new.”

I received a call from someone about refinishing a bed. She and her husband (Lynne and Pete) had been shopping for a new one, and found a possible candidate in a color that they loved. It was made by Kincaid, and the finish was called parchment. She wasn’t sure that she really wanted to replace the bed she had purchased years earlier and wanted to consider her options. I thought I could help by looking at both beds…

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I went to the store where they had seen it, and it was built in more of a country style. I really liked the finish, so I decided to take a look at the price… not cheap, but the bed was pretty good quality so the price was fair. The price of refinishing her existing bed would be close to the price of the new bed, so I had to see if their bed would be worth refinishing.

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When I saw their bed, it was disassembled. A good thing. I was able to look at the posts and the construction of the entire bed, and it was a massive poster bed that was very good quality. The post and carvings were real wood with absolutely no resin attachments. Most highly decorative carved beds will have posts and finials made of resin that is cast to look like wood. This bed was worthy to be restyled, and we agreed it would be worth the expense. The carvings would really stand out with the parchment finish.

Here We Go:

When I picked it up, I realized how massive the bed really is. The headboard probably weighs 100 pounds. The posts alone are an easy 25 pounds each, which makes the entire bed over 300 pounds with the rails. Moving this behemoth would be the biggest challenge when refinishing it. Here are the steps:

The bed is so large that it took up most of my garage

The bed is so large that it took up most of my garage

Here is a close up of the original finish

Here is a close up of the original finish. Pretty standard. Not very distinctive since many furniture manufacturers use a similar finish.

After the prepping, I whitewash the entire bed with a light grey customer lacquer

After the prepping, I whitewash the entire bed with a light grey custom mixed lacquer. I originally sprayed it lightly so the grain could show through, but decided to make it opaque later on. Things sometimes evolve on special projects.

After spraying the base coat, the bed kind of looks like it is made of plastic! Never fear, I am about to start glazing the surface.

Above: Before glaze. After spraying the base coat, the bed kind of looks like it is made of plastic! Never fear, I am about to start glazing the surface which will dramatically enrich it’s look.

This is what it looks like after mixing some grey and walnut glaze, and then brushing it on and wiping it off

Above: After the glaze. This is what it looks like after mixing some grey and walnut glaze, and then brushing it on and wiping it off with a rag. The glaze stays in the crevices. Huge difference here. Not only does it highlight the carving, but it really tones down the white surface and allows the wood’s grain to show.

This is a post with the base coat and glaze. Next, I will begin to distress the surface

This is a post with the base coat and glaze. I have lightly sanded the edges to highlight the lines. Next, I will begin to distress the surface.

Here it is with another layer of distress

Here it is with another layer of distress. I will add another layer of flyspecking in a translucent grey.

Finally complete

Finally complete. Notice the light streaking and the flyspecking to add character.

Time to compare the end result

Time to compare the end result. Pretty close. Different bed, same flavor. The best thing… no one else will have a bed like this. It is truly unique.

Overall, I would say that this was a huge success. This color blends very well with the interior. Adjacent to the bed is a master bath that has a white tile floor with grey veining. It ties in perfectly. Lynne will put another covering on the bed to add a splash of color. They have impeccable taste, and I’m sure the room will look great.

The best part of this job was meeting the Smith family. They were great to work with, and so easy to please. When delivering the bed, they had their visiting grandsons help me take it in the house- so it was a breeze. Things could not have gone better.

Refinishing an awesome Baker Table


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I recently went to give an estimate on buffing the top on a Baker formal dining room table and while I was at the house, the homeowner asked me to refinish their dinette. It was a Baker piece too. Baker makes some of the finest furniture in America. What really sets it apart from other manufacturers is the attention given to the finish. Fine furniture just has “that look”.

This table is highly distressed. It’s a light color. It also has a matching bench and chairs. Since it will be the centerpiece of the daily dining area, it will have to be refinished exactly the same way in order to match; a multi-layered finish with depth and lots of life. A bit of a challenge.

Since I have no reference for what the company used as materials, it is up to me to make the choice. So before I even begin to work on a project like this, I make a materials list and determine a gameplan for the process. I chose a Honey stain for the background, and a mixture of Ebony and Jacobean stain for the distressing (which will be applied mostly by a toothbrush). I chose to spray a vinyl sealer and a pre-catalyzed lacquer for the top coats since this is the most durable finish for a table that will be used daily. If you do not formulate a strategy like this before diving in to refinish something, you may not be satisfied with the end result.

The table Before

The table Before

Lots of distressing here

Lots of distressing here

Here is a close up of the surface. It has become soft and sticky. It looks terrible.

Here is a close up of the surface. It has become soft and sticky. It looks terrible.

The finish was thick, so I used a combination of gel stripper and lacquer thinner as a wash.

The finish was thick, so I used a combination of gel stripper and lacquer thinner as a wash.

After stripping the finish, most of the distressing is gone and needs to be replaced

After stripping the finish, most of the distressing is gone and needs to be replaced

Here is the first layer: Applying the Honey stain, and some minor distress. After this, I spray clear sealer and begin the process of adding more distress, and layers until I am happy enough to spray the lacquer.

Here is the first layer: Applying the Honey stain, and some minor distress. After this, I spray clear sealer and begin the process of adding more distress, and layers until I am happy enough to spray the lacquer.

 

Close up of additional layers of distressing (cow tailing, and fly specking)

Close up of additional layers of distressing (cow tailing, and fly specking)

Overall, it took me several hours to complete the process. The reason for doing 4 or 5 layers is that it gives you control during the process. By using an oil based stain on top of lacquer, you can wipe off the distress before it sets up permanently. This is because the oil and lacquer are chemically “not compatible”. It’s the sealer or lacquer that will lock the distress in when you are happy with it. I have always found it’s best to do a little at a time and keep adding distress until you are happy… if you do it all at once and add too much, you can’t take it off unless you start all over by stripping the piece again.

Once I have reassembled the table in the home, I will update the blog with the final photos.

 

Hand Painted Cabinet


Many people attempt to paint furniture, but only a few actually get the distressing right. This is how a piece should look when it’s done. The distressing is random and natural.

Hundred Acre Design

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We hand painted and distressed this vintage corner cabinet with Miss Mustard Seed Milk Paint. We wanted to match our client’s pale blue damask wallpaper, so we mixed a custom color using French Enamel, Dried Lavender and Grain Sack. We added bead board paneling to the back of the cabinet to add even more country detailing. To finish and seal the paint, we used Miss Mustard Seed’s antiquing wax, and this stuff will literally give life to your milk paint projects! _MG_9095

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There’s something about doing a milk paint project that is so serene and calming. Hand painting each carved leaf on this cabinet was almost meditative. The ease with which each flake of paint chips off in just the right place is so satisfying, as is the perfect soft sheen you get from polishing on the antiquing wax. With milk paint, it really just seems like you can’t get it wrong – the paint knows…

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Why the human touch is so important


A Human Touch: Thoughts on Craftsmanship in Home Furnishings by Brownlee Currey

Written by Brownlee Currey


You know that new thing that just arrived? That lamp, chandelier, or vase which was just unpacked? There is something you may not be considering: someone, more likely than not, made it by hand. This is true of so many things that we buy: clothing, shoes, jewelry, and most home furnishings. For most of these items, our first response when we look at them is not “I bet that was made by hand”. Home furnishings manufacture in particular, is in most ways a handcraft business. And by handcraft that we mean “crafted by hands” often with less machinery involved than you might think.

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That lampshade you have? A worker carefully tucked the fabric around that frame and then hand sewed in the lining. It probably took her about two hours, more, if she made the trim herself.

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That beautifully decorated vase that just came? While often pottery is cast into a plaster mold, the decoration is always applied by hand. Those designs were scratched into the clay by hand, and then the color applied by steady, steady hands, with a brush.

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Those new wooden floor lamps that just came in? The wood was turned on a lathe, and then given to a carver to shape. Those wavy lines and slightly uneven surface were left behind by his tools, markings that, no machine can replicate.

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That iron chandelier which was just installed? It took a lot of people to put that together. Different pairs of hands, bent the iron, forged the details, cleaned up the joints and welded it all together. Other hands painstakingly drew wire through it. More hands prepped, primed and painted. Perhaps, very skilled hands applied gold leaf. Other hands connected the electrical workings. It could be that another applied crystal, or other details. And a last, careful set of hands packed that chandelier.

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The wonder of all of this handwork is to be found in all of the detail it provides to the objects that surround us. Perhaps, the most remarkable aspect of all this, is that handwork can provide such remarkable levels of consistency. Personally, I think this speaks to the care, skill and dedication of the craftspeople making our products.

Most walk into a room and see the stuff, furniture, rugs, perhaps lighting. I would challenge you to walk into the same room and see all the talented people that made it possible.

All images courtesy of Brownlee Currey

http://www.andcompanysaid.com/a-human-touch-thoughts-on-craftsmanship-in-home-furnishings-by-brownlee-currey/

Building chandeliers


I have been learning a new craft recently: manufacturing lighting. Little did I know that so much labor went into the building of a chandelier. It is intricate work, and the skilled artists that I have been working with have patiently instructed me on how to do it. Each crystal has to be tied by hand utilizing brass wire that the builder must bend and shape meticulously. The crystals have to hang a specific way, and have a virtually identical wrap ( for example: the loop must have 2 circular wraps below it.) We use a special pair of pliers to create the loop, and they assist in pulling the wire tightly as you wrap.

crystal

Here are a couple of examples that I made last week. The one on the bottom took me 8 hours to complete with the guidance of a 10 year veteran named Reinna.

chandelier 1 chandelier 2