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Thread: Indiana area fine furniture repair (or help)

  1. #1
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    Oct 2008
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    Indiana area fine furniture repair (or help)

    I have just retrieved a family heirloom solid mahogany dining table and chair set. It was probably made in the 1960's by a Philidelphia custom furniture maker and needs repair to one of the pedestal bases. It's a Chippendale style design with two ball and claw foot pedestals supporting the table. One of the pedestals has some splits vertically and horizontally. The legs are attached using a single sliding dovetail to the pedestal post and one of the legs dovetail is working loose too.

    I love my woodworking time but I am no fine furniture maker (yet). So while I'd love to be the hero and repair it I'd rather make sure it's fixed properly and survives for more generations. In the late 1980's the complete set was appraised for $6000-7000 (chairs, table, leaves and sideboard). Anyone know or does work at this level in the Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky area around 2-3 hrs from Indianapolis or closer?

    I can post pictures in a day or two. Have to get it out of the trailer first.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2004
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    N Illinois
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    3,376
    Glen Huey, an excellent craftsman resides in Middleton, Ohio and has a shop there I believe...He would be a strong possibility for you ...G'Luck
    Jerry

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
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    Ingleside Texas
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    1960,s is not an historical piece. I would do as much research on repair and go for it. You may also try to find a true todays price for it.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
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    Amelia, OH
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    Professional Furniture Service here in Amelia (east side of Cincinnati) that does a lot of work of the kind you describe. You might want to give them a call and at least get an estimate.

    http://www.profurniture.com/

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
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    outside Indianapolis
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    Pedestal web ver.JPGPedestal web view 2.JPG

    Okay this is what it looks like (the main break).

    Glen Huey? He's one of the PW editors and fine furniture makers, I'd probably end up buying all his DVD's and books while dropping the table off. ;-)

    On the price, it comes from a valuation my mother had done by a professional appraiser on a number of pieces in the family years ago (late 1980's). I've used it for insurance purposes since I don't have much else to go on. The table top is (as expected) really mahogany veneer over a solid hardwood core but very well executed. The pedestals, apron and chairs are mahogany.

  6. #6
    Whit,

    The splayed legs exert great leverage on the post joint and its not surprising that a crack has developed. Using appropriate clamping methods try a dry clamp up, and if the crack closes fairly easily, put some yellow glue or better yet hide glue into the crack and it will be good to go!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
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    outside Indianapolis
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    Thanks that might be worth a go. I am still going to look for someone with that skill level to look at some damage to one of the leaves. It has a bad gouge or two in it and I'm not going to monkey with the finish as it looks excellent after all this time. It did reveal that I was mistaken, the top and the leaves are solid mahogany. I got my eyeball loupe out and really checked the gouge and saw the grain followed through. I then rechecked a ding or two in the top and found that the grain stays consistent in the dents/scrapes. Next I checked the undersides of the leaves and table top and can feel (and see) hand plane tracks. Who-da thunk?

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    Columbia City , Indiana
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    269
    Quote Originally Posted by Brad Patch View Post
    Whit,

    The splayed legs exert great leverage on the post joint and its not surprising that a crack has developed. Using appropriate clamping methods try a dry clamp up, and if the crack closes fairly easily, put some yellow glue or better yet hide glue into the crack and it will be good to go!
    I just looked at the pics...What Brad said....
    I Love My Dedicated Machines ! And My Dedicated Wife Loves Me !

  9. #9
    Given the mechanical bolt on the bottom, I have a suggestion to ad.

    While the table is disassembled, get a hard steel plate cut to fit the bottom.
    If you predrill, you could fit the circular plate with a central hole to the base, and put a screw into the bottom of each sliding tenon.
    That way, splay forces would be equalized to all three legs.

    If one leg tries to splay away from the center line, the force will be transferred to the other legs which would be drawn toward the center.

    You would want a fairly heavy steel (not something you can cut with hand shears).

    Alternately, metal straps could serve the same purpose.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    outside Indianapolis
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    Thanks for the idea Jim. This is going to become not the "Repair dining room" thread but the "Dining room set restoration" project! The chairs are in various states of loosening joints, totally cruddy all over (sorry family but true). Looks like someone started taking the finish down on one chair on the frame then stopped. Stretchers are mortise and tenon but coming out here and there. All the seats need to be reupholstered completely (smelly too). The head of table chair with arms needs major reconstruction of one arm and the splat. The leaves look good mostly. The table itself has one or two bad dings in the finish which overall looks great and must of been a top shelf job. Smooth as glass after over 40 years and still clear. Going to be a lot of cleaning and deciding on whether to leave as worn or just strip down the chairs and rematch to the table and sideboard. Since the primary pieces still look so good over all I'm leaning towards a refinish to match.

    But when it's complete and in the dining room with 12 plus people sitting around it then it will be worth the effort. ;-)

  11. #11
    I can't think of anyone in your area off the top of my head, but Brad's advice seems pretty solid to me. This sounds like an excellent set of dining room furniture once you get it all fixed. Good luck, I hope it all works out for you.
    Last edited by Keith Outten; 10-30-2012 at 8:44 PM.

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