Very often a piece of furniture, through no fault of its own, becomes blemished. Consider the experience of a typical table: A cloudy ring appears after a wet object has visited too long. An inconsiderate dish has left scuff marks after being slid from place to place. A chair stacked on top of it during a move rubbed one foot right through the finish to forever humble the pride of that dignified piece. And on it goes. A dent here, a scuff there, a vacuum swipe, nail polish attempting to decorate the wrong thing, an unexpected landing of a matchbox car. What do you do? Bring it to a craftsman, of course. We can fill dents, smooth scratches, polish out scuffs, and artistically reproduce grain patterns when necessary.
But we don't perform miracles. We can't make the blemish completely disappear unless we completely refinish the piece, it is now a part of the history of the piece. Whenever you look at the spot, you will be able to tell it was repaired. However, no one else should suspect there had been a problem unless their eyes are directed to the repaired area.
There is an ugly white spot where that finish is chipped off.
The three photos below are all the same table after the touch up was completed.We have placed an oval around a natural feature of the wood grain to help you orient yourself to where the damage was. With this help we are sure you must be able to see the repair. We have provided increasingly close views of the repair. Can you see it? It is right in the middle of the third photo. You see it don't you? We didn't think so.This repair turned out quite well. They are not always this successful, but usually pretty close.
This matching set serves as a before and after of a finish repair we did to this scuffed, dented and gouged surface. No, the bottom table is not the after!
Can you find where this sample was repaired? If we hadn't suggested you look for a repair, we doubt you would have suspected there had been a repair. Even with that suggestion, we guess that many will not see any evidence of a repair. That is the way most repairs go. Pass your mouse over the space below the sample and you will see the original damage. Now that you know where it was, it is not so hard to see the repair.
Below are two chairs in a set that both had been broken in the same place. These pictures are after our work was completed. Can you find our repairs? We doubt you will. This is the usual result after repair. If you don't know where to look, you can't find the repair. We actually want you to notice our repair work so we will give you a clue in the pictures to the right.
Surely you see the repairs now! You are looking closely at the exact area where the posts were broken in two. We were actually not the first ones to try to repair these breaks. The wood plug you see in the upper picture covers a screw which holds the seat. The extra plug on the lower chair is actually a dowel someone else had inserted through the line of the break to try, unsuccessfully, to hold the chair post together.
Pass your mouse over the spaces directly below to see the broken areas after we had glued them together with an oak spline to give new and added strength. You should also be able to see the break line below the dowel in the top picture and a break line through the dowel and above the dowel in the lower picture.
Pass your mouse over the spaces directly below to see a close up of our touch up to the spline repair. It is easy to see our repair now--close up and knowing where to look! If it had been worth it to the customer to spend more, we could have made the outline of the spline less visible.
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You will very rarely see an acoustic musical instrument in our shop but the damage that needed repairing on this guitar was something we felt comfortable with. We are not sure what caused this damage, but we were sure we could make it look better.
We do this with trepidation, but we now divulge some trade secrets. The first step in touch-up is to create a background approximating the lightest surrounding color. Here we did this with the light orange colored pigment mellowed with some straight white. These are mixed in shellac and brushed on.
The next step is to add the darker contrasting grain lines. We chose a couple additional colors of pigment to add to our shellac mixture and applied those with a very fine artist's brush. Each stage in touch-up must be sealed in place. We used an aerosol lacquer sealer to do this.
After all the brush work was done, we used some aerosol toners to blend the repaired area with the surrounding area. We know you can still make out where we worked, but we are equally sure that if you had only this picture to look at, you would not have guessed where it had been repaired.
Here is another example of a before and after of a damaged finish, this time on a table top. Again, powdered pigments of the appropriate colors liquified in shellac applied with artist brushes, sealed with an aerosol lacquer sealer. A little experience is thrown in too!
Plasticizer damage is a little know but very disheartening problem which occasionally raises its ugly head in the most unexpected ways.
The resins used to formulate finishes are brittle by nature. To avoid the spider web like shatter marks which would be the result of an impact on a brittle finish, formulators add plasticizing agents to the finishes to make them more pliable. With the plasticizing agents, instead of a shatter mark, there will be a dent or impression resulting from an impact.
The problem caused by plasticizers arises when rubber or plastic materials, such as place mats, table coverings, trivet feet or the like, are left on the surface for an extended time. Placing any of these on a table top for the time of a typical meal or event creates no problem at all. However, when contact extends from several days to a week or more, a chemical reaction begins between the plasticizer in the finish and the materials resting on the surface. A chemical heat is created which softens the finish. The seriousness of the damage is a function of the quality and condition of the finish, the specific interaction of the plastics, and the duration of contact. The result of plasticizer damage is a discoloration and a softening of the finish.
The two photos at the top show two results of plasticizer damage. In both of these cases, even though the damage was very visible and undesirable, it was repairable. It often is not. Especially with trivet feet, the damage will go directly down to the wood. Often the only remedy is to remove the damaged finish and apply a new.
This unfortunate customer had put a plastic cover over the table to protect it from spilled liquids, with a cloth cover over that. It looked nice, there was no reason to remove it--that she knew. When she did, she was horrified to see the soft, slimy, sticky, cloudy surface. This was a difficult challenge, we tried several methods of repair and finally were successful. No stripping required! After the repairs were complete, we did apply a fresh coat of finish to restore the even matte sheen.
These photos are a conference table top. Not sure what they had on top, but the damage is obvious. The photo below is the same damage from another angle. The final photo is the same angle after the damage was removed. The white disc is a water drop on our camera lens, not plasticizer damage!