Restoration of a treasured keepsake

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Project by Don Butler posted 03-04-2009 11:02 PM 1700 views 0 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This strange and unusual chair was brought to me with one bottom side stretcher broken off cleanly right where it joined the back leg.
At first I was a little leery about doing anything to it for fear it was a valuable antique. After conferring with two antique dealers I was convinced it was alright to restore it. The client, by the way, was impressed over the fact that I did so much research on her behalf.
Now to the problem: I couldn’t just drill out the end of the stretcher because the pear shaped finial tapered right out to the tenon. It just wouldn’t be enough ‘meat’, even if I was so clever as to hit the stretcher dead in the center. So I copied the finial up to the next feature and left tenons on both ends of the copy. Then, not realizing I was holding my breath, I cut the original final off the stretcher and drilled it out for the new one.
The second photo shows how it came out.
By the way, take notice of the unusual features of this chair. It appears to be all original and doesn’t seem to have been much used except for the broken stretcher. A chair with such fancy carving on the back splat and crest wouldn’t ordinarily be made with a caned seat. but this looks to be original. The back legs are of unusual design, too.
I was almost as happy with it as the client.


-- No trees were damaged in posting this message, but thousands of electrons were seriously inconvenienced.

8 comments so far

View John Stegall's profile

John Stegall

500 posts in 3485 days

#1 posted 03-05-2009 12:13 AM

Great repair job! I’ve often wondered about chairs that are obviously old but show little signs of wear if that was because they were not that comfortable to sit on.

-- jstegall

View Don Butler's profile

Don Butler

1092 posts in 3364 days

#2 posted 03-05-2009 12:27 AM

I suspect this was a chair reserved for some ritual use.

-- No trees were damaged in posting this message, but thousands of electrons were seriously inconvenienced.

View kiwi1969's profile


608 posts in 3410 days

#3 posted 03-05-2009 02:14 AM

Nice resto donbee. Did the crooks, sorry, I mean antique dealers, give any clues on the age? I would guess some kind of early victorian revival going by the shallow carving in the back and the mismatched styling cues and the fact that the crooks, sorry, antique dealers, weren,t throwing money at you to get it. They make replica,s like that here in the Philippines and yes John they become excruciatingly uncomfortable after a short period. My kingdom for a windsor!

-- if the hand is not working it is not a pure hand

View tinnman65's profile


1356 posts in 3382 days

#4 posted 03-05-2009 03:29 PM

Nice job Don, now that chair has a chance to be enjoyed by the next generation of owners, hopefully they’ll take good care of it.

-- Paul--- Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep. — Scott Adams

View Hacksaw007's profile


612 posts in 3157 days

#5 posted 10-12-2009 09:58 PM

Nice job. I repair furniture also. Worked for Pennsylvania House Furniture for 26 years. Nothing like creating something that has to match. My hardest part is trying to figure out want to charge for the work. And the risk of messing it up always haunts fellow repair people. But nice job. You did your homework well. A+

-- For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. John 3:16

View a1Jim's profile


117063 posts in 3545 days

#6 posted 10-14-2009 04:59 AM

looks super

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View Jerry's profile


2613 posts in 1616 days

#7 posted 11-24-2013 06:55 PM

Great story, you are a very clever man. The job you did on this is really fantastic.

-- There are good ships and there are wood ships, the ships that sail the sea, but the best ships are friendships and may they always be.

View Mark Wilson's profile

Mark Wilson

2112 posts in 1031 days

#8 posted 11-06-2015 07:31 PM

Old chairs have a charm all their own, don’t they? This on’es in mausoleum.

-- Mark

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