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Dining Room Set Refurbish #1: What style am I?

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Blog entry by mtkate posted 1360 days ago 2521 reads 0 times favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Dining Room Set Refurbish series Part 2: Interesting challenges from past "fixes" to the chair »

To make a long story short, a dining room set that has been in our family since the early 70’s has come under my care. It’s all white oak and we know it’s at least 100 years old (but probably not more). Believed to have been made in New Brunswick.

If the set was made around 1900 or so, what would you call the style …. Victorian Revival? One of the chairs is below. The upholstering is real leather. The original finish was the darkest mahogany color you see left on the chair.
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Most of the set was stripped of it’s finishing once. Unfortunately, I took a guilty part in that when I was a teenager and didn’t know what I was doing either… The chair above was only half stripped and never got finished. The pieces that were stripped got refinished with minwax and a coat of varnish (not very well applied. I am aghast when I look at the buffet piece). There were also several attempts to fix wobbly joints (I’ll take pics of these for another post) that make me realize how glad I am to have learned things from this site.
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It’s a gargantuan task, and I am sure this will take me at least a year if I don’t deviate. I need to remove the finishing, fix the scratches and broken pieces, strenghen the joints, refinish. Make it two years, because I will certainly deviate. But I am starting with this chair. I also have to re-upholster since the leather on most seats is cracked (and simply dirty – and you can’t remove it) and it’s lost it’s bum-comfort.
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One thing to say though – I love the look of this set.



9 comments so far

View Greg The Cajun Box Sculptor's profile

Greg The Cajun Box Sculptor

4927 posts in 1903 days


#1 posted 1360 days ago

You are in for alot of work. I hope you enjoy this type of stripping and refinishing. The refinishing is the fun part. The stripping is…well, you will find out.
Years ago I stripped and refinished a dinng room set my wife bought. It was beautiful old oak and was also a dark stain. It was a project I never would want to do again. I enjoy sanding but the stripping part with the chemical strippers was something that seemed as if it would never end.

-- Every step of each project is considered my masterpiece because I want the finished product to reflect the quality of my work.

View mtkate's profile

mtkate

2049 posts in 1920 days


#2 posted 1360 days ago

Well, I am sort of a stripper – so to speak. I’ve done quite a few pieces. I know what I’m in for so I guess I am just crazy ;)

It’s all the design and curvy parts that are going to kill me… but I’ll do one piece at a time, finish it completely, then move on with no deadline. I got the mega can of stripping chemicals.

View stefang's profile

stefang

12522 posts in 1929 days


#3 posted 1360 days ago

I can’t put a name to the design, but it is almost identical to an oak set my mother-in-law has which she and her husband bought in 1940 just before Norway was invaded by Germany. The main difference is that the chairs have a back splat similar to the Queen Anne style. If I can remember, I will take a photo of it to show you when we visit her next week. Her set is in remarkably good condition after 70 years of use.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View Bob #2's profile

Bob #2

3808 posts in 2617 days


#4 posted 1360 days ago

I’d send that out to one of those pro strippers that can do the whole chair in a big basin with some HD chemicals and a pressure sprayer to preserve the wood.
By the time you buy the stripper and tools you are almost halfway there and you’ll never get it as cleans as they do.
Good luck with whatever you decide.

-- A mind, like a home, is furnished by its owner

View stefang's profile

stefang

12522 posts in 1929 days


#5 posted 1360 days ago

This stripping thing seems like a problem begging to be solved. I’ve used that stuff too, not very pleasant to use, but it worked well enough. I get the impression that those commercial firms really stress the wood with the very strong chemicals they use. I read in a refinishing book that it should be a last resort method due to it’s being pretty destructive. I haven’t tried it myself, so can’t confirm or deny.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View jack1's profile

jack1

1907 posts in 2622 days


#6 posted 1359 days ago

I’m with Bob #2. They really do a great job and don’t cost much considering…

-- jack -- ...measure once, curse twice!

View mtkate's profile

mtkate

2049 posts in 1920 days


#7 posted 1355 days ago

Thanks all – I never even thought of outsourcing the work. There is quite a bit of this to do. I’ll have to check it out. I did start taking the chair apart and cleaning it up. The biggest pain is all the scratches the wood “inherited” over the years.

bentlyj – I still don’t have a clear picture of what to call this style, but I am hoping Stefang’s MIL set will shed some light. Maybe the set has brothers and sisters…

View stefang's profile

stefang

12522 posts in 1929 days


#8 posted 1355 days ago

Hi Kate. I just remembered reading an article in FWW mag quite a few years ago about using glass shards to scrape off finish in difficult spots. A lot quicker and more effective that a sanding sponge or even metal paint scrapers.

The idea was to put a glass container (jelly jar?) in a thick paper bag for safety and give some whacks with a hammer. You should wind up with a lot of different shaped/sized pieces. You can then apply duct tape to make handles. The sharp edges really scrape well, and the different shapes allow you to do quite a range of profiles and other hard to get at places. Whatever you do, good luck with your project.

I haven’t forgot about the pictures. I will take those pics as soon as we visit my MIL. I plan to ask her if she can remember what style they called it. She is 90 years old, so she might remember it.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View mtkate's profile

mtkate

2049 posts in 1920 days


#9 posted 1353 days ago

Stefang, that sounds pretty scary with the glass… but if the scraper doesn’t work out I might give it a shot. I started already and seems to be going fine to remove the “stuff” so far (though long…)

Thanks on the pics. I can’t wait to see if they are similar.

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