Thursday, February 25, 2016

Lincoln Rocking Chair: Before and After

By Gretchen Sawatzki

When this old Lincoln rocking chair came into the workshop, we knew we had our hands full. Made of hard maple, and dating to about 1885, this rocker has seen its fair share of abuse. With a lot of work, the right kind of elbow grease, and a bit of luck this rocking chair went from drab to fab!

Image by Charles Wiesner

When the rocking chair arrived, the original caning had been replaced with string laced through the holes to hold cushions. Its joints were loose and sitting on this would have been an adventure for all who tried.

Image by Charles Wiesner

The first step was to disassemble the rocking chair to strip away any remaining finish and to clean the joints and caning holes for proper fitting later.

Image by Charles Wiesner

After stripping the wood, the rocking chair was sanded to even out the surface. The joints were stabilized, re-glued, and clamped together. We used an air compressor to add extra weight to the chair while the adhesive cured, but you can use weights, sandbags, or anything that adds a downward force to help stabilize the chair while the adhesive works its magic!

Image by Charles Wiesner

Once the adhesive cured, and the structural integrity of the chair was restored the rocking chair was sanded again to smooth any areas where the glue may have collected.

Image by Charles Wiesner

Next, the rocking chair was stained. There many kinds of stains available on the market, but Minwax stains are a good option for the at-home do-it-yourself-er. For a more complicated finish, you can always rely on the professionals! 

Image by Charles Wiesner

We applied a second coat of stain to achieve the coloration that we wanted. It may take multiple coats to achieve the preferred look you want. Take it easy when applying stain, and allow for each coat to dry completely before applying the next.

Image by Charles Wiesner

Finally, the caning was restored by a professional caner. Caning is very challenging to get right, so it's important to take your favorite furniture to a professional caner to get the result that you want!

Image by Charles Wiesner



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