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Detail Of Table Pedestal

Restoring Turned Decorative Elements

Turned chair legs, stretchers, arm supports, and back spindles; turned bed posts, supports,and finials; turned table legs; turned balusters; turned columns; turned candle sticks; turned distaffs; so many wooden items that surround us have turned elements.

Turned decorative items made from wood can also be broken, be attacked by pests or rot, they can shrink or twist or get lost. For many reasons the honed skill of woodturning is essential in the process of restoring furniture. This page will illustrate some of the turning work we have done as a part of restoring items brought to us.

From a very personal vantage point, wood turning is one of the most creative and enjoyable things we do. Please, bring us lots of things to turn! We will be happy people! But don't break a spindle for us to turn just to make us happy because turning is not quick work, in other words, not inexpensive work.

If you are interested in woodturning yourself, we have provided some links to some good information available over at Amazon. The first book listed is the most relevant to what we do, focusing entirely on furniture. The last book is for those who would like to start out by knowing everything there is to know about a lathe so that they can purchase the most appropriate tool for their planned use.

Turning A Spindle On A Lathe
Nineteenth Century Redwood Hall Tree, Detail Of Spindles
Nineteenth Century Redwood Hall Tree

This is a late nineteenth century halltree that we believe to have been an original Californian piece. We make that assumption because it is made entirely of California Redwood! The mirror is not original. Part of our job was to restore it and try to recapture the original appearance. At the top of the cross piece the existing mirror was standing on there was evidence of six spindles formerly mounted there. We reasoned that a couple may have been broken, the original mirror no longer supported, and so the mirror was replaced with the existing one and the four remaining spindles were put to use filling the space to the right of the mirror.

Above you see us turning a mock up of a replacement spindle. We used poplar wood for this test. Later we turned two spindles out of redwood. Sorry no after pictures!

Late 17th Century Rocking Chair

There is a good story that goes along with this chair. When it was brought in we were told that the owner had just acquired it from someone whose family it had been in for over three hundred years. The chair looked old and tired and two of the back spindles were missing. She didn't want to lose the ancient character of the chair but did want the spindles replaced and the finish refreshed.

Refreshing the finish was fairly straightforward, we refurbished it in the same way we do with many antiques--clean, wax and polish.

Late 17th Century Rocking Chair, Detail

Replacing the spindles was more complicated for two reasons. The chair did not need to come apart so we had the challenge of inserting the long spindle into the shorter space between the top and bottom rails. That was the easy part. The difficult part, as is illustrated by the detail photo of the back, was that none of the spindles were straight anymore. A replacement spindle from a modern lathe would be straight. We had to create replacement spindles that were not straight. We did it, but some tricks of the trade will remain closely guarded secrets!

After picking the rocker up from us, the customer took it to an appraiser associated with the Antiques Road Show. She reported to us his findings. The appraiser carefully studied the chair, confirmed its age as over 300 years, said it was clear that the finish had been refreshed at some point but otherwise looked original. That was it. Never suspected that any of the spindles were new replacements. That news made our day!

Chair Stretcher Turned

This is a pretty typical job for us. You can easily see the break in the original stretcher at the center. It is also broken by the leg on the left and near the leg on the right. Too many issues to make a repair economical. We make a new piece instead.

Sideboard Toe Turned

We displayed this photo elsewhere to show one way of dealing with teething canines.We display it again to show how our wood turning skills can be used to remedy damage of this kind.

Table Base With Intricate Turnings
Turned Replacement Base Finial

This gorgeous table needed to be refinished, but also was missing one of the two finials mounted at the cross points of the stretchers between the legs. Wish we could claim to have done all the marvelous turning on this piece, but the finial pictured below is our sole contribution to that aspect of this table's beauty.

Windsor Chair Back Post Turning

This set of six maple 1950's era windsor chairs came in for refinishing. One of the back posts was broken. You can see the broken post on the front chair seat next to the post we turned.


Now that you have seen what we have done for others, what can we do for you? CONTACTING AND FINDING US

Spindled Display Case Before Restoration
Spindled Display Case Backsplash Spindle Array
Spindled Display Case Broken Support

This fanciful display piece had several issues which needed to be remedied in order for this to proudly grace our customer's home. First, the finish was worn and dull. The other issues will be illustrated in the three next photos.

Spindled Display Case Base Befor Restoration

There are four spindles on the left side of this array which are clearly darker and browner. They are crudely made replacements that do not maintain the symmetry of alignment you can see in the spindles on the right. This customer opted to leave these spindles alone as long as we could color them to blend with the others. That decision was based on two considerations. First, those spindles were now part of the history of the piece and could prompt interesting discussions. Second, turning four correct replacement spindles would have been quite expensive. Very reasonable decision, we would love to have had the opportunity to turn replacements though!

The sweeping arc at the bottom right corner of the front was broken off and the bottoms of the three spindles the fill the curve were all broken off. Our project was to reattach whole spindles and re-secure the curve.

The base of the fan to the right was broken and the back panel was not properly supported and leaned to the right. We needed to strengthen that support and straighten the back.

Base For Back Fan Support On Lathe
Base For Back Fan Support With Finish Applied
Detail Showing Base Of Back Fan Support In Place And Finished

We repaired the broken base to the fan by turning a new base. The base was finished to blend with the rest. We removed the old base and put the new base in its place. No way to tell it was repaired!

We include a larger detail than is necessary. The shapes and color tones are exquisite, refined and very appealing. They are a thing of great beauty.

Bottom Shelf Finial Base On Lathe
Bottom Arc And Spindles Being Glued In Place
BottomSpindles In Place

We used straight dowels to replace the broken bottom legs of the center and left spindle below. For the right spindle we turned a new leg. Arc and spindles being glued in place pictured to the right.

Bottom Spindles Finished

Rich, flowing, intense.

Completed Spindled Display Case

Maple Spool Bed Missing One Back Spindle
Maple Spool Bed Spindle Being Turned
Maple Spool Bed Spindle Turning Complete

A maple spool bed. Two stages in turning the new spindle.

Spinning Wheel Turned Distaff

A nineteenth century spinning wheel. The distaff was missing. We designed and turned it. All is painted with a milk paint, which may have been the original coating used on this device.


Now that you have seen what we have done for others, what can we do for you? CONTACTING AND FINDING US

Spinning Wheel
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