• Furniture Repair refers to fixing simple breaks, or joints which have come loose. For example, a chair may have become loose and squeaky. This would necessitate taking the chair apart as far as possible, cleaning all the joints, then flooding the joints with glue and clamping-up the chair under pressure.

    Antique Restoration refers to the situation where an item has been badly damaged, and/or perhaps stored in less than ideal conditions (such as 3 decades in a shearing shed). New parts may need to be made, a badly damaged finish may need to be stripped off and refinished. If the items require refinishing, RoNZ usually refinishes using Tung Oil and wax. The goal of Restoration is to be able to use your furniture in everyday life. Thus our motto: "Furniture is meant to be used and enjoyed"

    Museum Conservation is a specialist branch; having a unique set of rules and guidelines. The objective is to maintain the appearance of an item as near as possible to when it was originally made and to store it in such a way as to slow its deterioration. Touching-up damage is preferred to refinishing, which is rarely allowed. Repairs are made as un-intrusively as possible, where appearance over functionality is the rule. Once the work is completed, the items are often kept in archival storage for long periods before being put on display in the museum. In such a situation, chairs and desks are for "looking at and admiring", rather than for sitting down and writing a letter.

    The focus of RoNZ Furniture Hospital is to return items to daily usable condition, not merely for looking at or keeping locked away for posterity.
  • 2-pot finishes are those where 2 liquids are mixed before applying to a surface. You can think of them as being similar to epoxy, though they look and behave differently. RoNZ occasionally uses 2-pot flooring for use on restaurant tables and bars. In those situations, the hard scuff-resistance and easy to clean surface is a plus. However, the look of the finish: thick, pebbly plastic-looking is not the look most homeowners prefer. A second drawback is that all surface finishes (polyurethane, varnish, shellac), will eventually get damaged. When that happens the entire finish needs to be stripped-off, sanded, and several coats will need to be reapplied. This is a costly and time-consuming task. An alternative to surface finishes in a domestic setting is the application of hand-rubbed Tung Oil, followed by wax. This produces the best-looking woodworking finish, it feels terrific, and if it is damaged, a rubbing down with fine steel wool and a new application of Tung Oil over the original coats will bring out the beauty of the wood at significantly reduced cost, time, and effort.
  • Photos of damaged items are helpful for quickly determining if the object can be repaired or restored. In general, if it's solid wood it can be fixed. To get an idea of how much a repair or restoration will cost, I need to personally examine the item to see if any breaks or loose joints are coming apart, which may have been overlooked. Once an item has been inspected, an estimate can be made as to cost. However, it is not until the repair is underway that the full extent of the damage can be assessed for broken dowels or tenons, significant borer damage, damage hidden by upholstery, warping and twisting of parts, etc.
  • RoNZ specialises in artisan level woodworking. If a chair with an upholstered seat or back needs repair under the fabric, we can release the fabric, make the repair, and reinstate the upholstery. However, the skill sets and tools required for woodworking, re-upholstering and cane work are unique. The latter two require workspaces separated from woodworking's dust. Quality re-upholsterers can be found all over the Lower North Island. There are people who renew cane-work in Pahiatua and Palmerston North.
  • The four shows that I have extensively watched share some similarities, while each has a unique flavour.

    The first that I watched was based in Los Vegas, where they worked almost exclusively with metal objects, with the goal of returning the items to their owners in a like new condition. While metal is not my medium, and while I prefer to return the item to a well-cared for, but used condition, this program captured by attention for a couple of years. It is very interesting to watch.

    A second program is based out of Wales with a couple of guys traveling around the UK and Europe finding unique long-forgotten objects, buying them, restoring them at their workshop in Wales, and then selling them through the internet. I like this show, not least because the owner is genuinely interested in what he does, and appears to be honest with those he deals with.

    A third show seems to have followed the path of #2, in that the main guy travels around finding discarded, disparate, mainly metal objects, and then gets his team to fashion unique objects and then sticks a light bulb in whatever they have made. The main character is undoubtedly creative, his works often end up in pubs, or office foyers as a conversational centre-piece. As a side note, this shows makes extensive use of “Brown Wax” applied to metal and wood alike, a favourite of UK antique dealers, but a practice I personally abhor.

    We now come to my personal favourite: The Repair Shop, based in England. This features a wide variety of skilled artisans and artists, who restore family heirlooms which are brought into their workshop in an aged farm building. Most items have 2 or more people collaborating on their restoration. The items are returned to their owners, almost always in working order, but without having removed all the patina acquired from age and use. Each item has a personal history which adds interest and meaning to the work. Without a doubt, this is my favourite, and is my most highly commended show of this genre:
  • Let’s say you drilled pilot holes for two angle brackets on each rear leg. That’s 8 screws in each rear leg, or 16 rather large borer holes in the portion of the chair which receives the greatest stress and needs to give the greatest strength. Not only will these holes weaken the chair, but the brackets over time will become loose and the brackets will begin to act like chisels damaging the wood while the screws will act like files as they further enlarge the holes.

    Well designed and made chairs utilize wooden joints held together by glue to make two or more parts into a unitary whole. The problem with metal fixings, is that wood and meal have different hardnesses and flexibility, eventually working against each other, with the wood usually losing. Well made and glued joints will stay fixed (in most cases) unless the chair suffers catastrophic damage by physical force, water damage, etc.

    The proper way to return your wooden dining chair to full usability, is to take it apart as completely possible, then to clean all the joints. Then apply glue to all joining surfaces and clamp under pressure for 24 hours. Or, if you like, contact us and we will do that work for you, touching up any visible damage once the repair has made made.
  • Hot-melt glue guns are very useful in a range of crafts, for example sticking items together where there is no joint, such as paper flowers onto a piece of coloured cardboard. In woodworking, hot-melt glue is sometimes used to temporarily hold together parts when working on them if they are awkward to hold onto. In such cases, once a piece is finished being worked on, the hot-melt glue is removed.

    But to your question regarding using hot-melt glue to re-glue the top rail of a chair - it is not suitable for at least three reasons. First, hot-melt glue is very thick (high viscosity) and coupled with having to work fast before the glue cools, it is near impossible to sufficiently close the gap between the parts. Second, the glue tends to be messy to apply and difficult to tidy-up. Finally, to make a good repair, the old hot-melt glue normally has to be carved away to clean wood before a proper re-gluing with PVA or epoxy can be made. PVA is the pre-eminent glue used in woodworking. While there are many other types of glue used to make or restore furniture: hide, epoxy, CA, wheat, F-2, etc, PVA (wherever possible), is the preferred glue to use in making or repairing wooden furniture. Here’s my favourite: http://www.titebond.com/product/glues/e8d40b45-0ab3-49f7-8a9c-b53970f736af

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