antique repairs ... an appreciation

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Project by dan mosheim posted 04-26-2011 04:54 AM 2650 views 1 time favorited 18 comments Add to Favorites Watch

well, sometimes we all get so caught up in making new stuff that we can forget the pleasure and learning opportunities that can be gleaned from repairing old stuff. recently, some of my favorite clients emailed to tell me that the 20 pound weight that drives the 1840’s works of their aaron willard clock had fallen through the floor of their clock and completely smashed it’s base … fortunately, the husband was winding it at the time and they were able to wrestle it safely to the ground. when i picked it up, we carried the bottomless case out like a corpse and he handed me a deli container with about 15 shattered pieces in it … slowly, over the course of a week, i cleaned the old glue from the previously badly reglued and repaired base parts and reassembled the pieces … it was a creative and rewarding experience to take something from ‘not so good’ to ‘good for another 50 years or so … the local clock doctor will be coming ‘sometime in the next six months’ to replace the weight cable and service the works … all in all a worthy piece of work that was equal in satisfaction to creating something completely original and new … repairs like these can make you something of a hero too, and they pay well … more pictures and process descriptions on my dorset custom furniture blog .... you can also ‘like’ our new dorset custom furniture page on facebook ...

-- dan,vermont,

18 comments so far

View dakremer's profile


2672 posts in 3117 days

#1 posted 04-26-2011 05:00 AM

lookin good Dan! Bringing her back to her glory!

-- Hey you dang woodchucks, quit chucking my wood!!!!

View smitty22's profile


714 posts in 2972 days

#2 posted 04-26-2011 05:05 AM

Yep, a well-done repair can be more challenging and satisfying sometimes than a new project. I typically get repair projects from friends and neighbors, never turned one down yet. Did a a patio chair yesterday, a really cheap chinee thing that collapsed under a heavyweight, but iit’s now better than new.

thanks for the post!

-- Smitty

View Moron's profile


5032 posts in 3919 days

#3 posted 04-26-2011 05:15 AM

brings back memories

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

View wildbill001's profile


111 posts in 2668 days

#4 posted 04-26-2011 05:37 AM

Boy does that bring back memories for me as well. Several years ago my wife ran an antique business. I was tasked with doing repairs and/or rebuilds. Seeing pictures of the parts reminded me of a time when she came home with a big cardboard box of pieces of wood. Hands it to me and says, “This is a rocking chair. Can you fix it?” Took me several weekends of gluing pieces, fabrication, design, etc. but I eventually got it. Wish I still had a picture of that “masterpiece”.

Not only can you learn alot about furniture construction but you can also learn what NOT to do.


-- "You can tell the pioneers by the arrows in their back" -- Unknown

View William's profile


9949 posts in 2868 days

#5 posted 04-26-2011 05:45 AM

I have a friend that sometimes brings me chairs to repair so that he can re-cane them. The problem is, he seems to find the most unusual chairs. The last four that I have done for him bout made me pull whats left of my hair out. They had broken arms. The arms though, wrapped around in a curve pattern I’d never seen before. They proved quite a challenge and I complained plenty. When they were done though, it was quite a satisfaction to repair and keep alive something that would have probably been in the garbage heap otherwise.


View HerbC's profile


1764 posts in 2885 days

#6 posted 04-26-2011 05:49 AM


I like your workbench work surface. I think it would make an excellent table top in my dining room…

Keep up the good work and remember…

Be Careful!


-- Herb, Florida - Here's why I close most messages with "Be Careful!"

View William's profile


9949 posts in 2868 days

#7 posted 04-26-2011 05:57 AM

Holy crap!
I didn’t notice that until Herb brought it up. Is that your normal work bench? What kind of wood is that? Is that a solid slab? How long and wide is it?
Ok. I gotta back off now. Computers and drooling don’t mix well.


View Rick's profile


9728 posts in 3058 days

#8 posted 04-26-2011 09:30 AM


You hit the nail on the Head!! Perhaps a few more WW Guys should consider this line of Woodwork. It would bring me a Great Deal of Satisfaction to do something like this! Reviving an Old Master Piece!

YEP! Your Work Bench is Amazing.

So! Picture #2.. Are the Blue Clamps Holding the Same Piece as The Orange Clamps that are Holding the Place where the …. Oh! Forget it! I’m all confused! (No Comments from you other Clowns…LOL..)

Going to go have a Look See at your Link.

EDIT: Just had a look at your Blog Site…WOW!! The Claro Slab Table is Amazing!! (Had a problem with Google/YouTube Sign in Account but got it straightened away and left a Comment) Maybe I should use eBlog?


-- LIFE is what happens when you're planning on doing Other Things!

View Ken90712's profile


17563 posts in 3214 days

#9 posted 04-26-2011 10:24 AM

Nice save! Your right we do tend to forget the importance of the oldie but googies! Great looking clock you worked on.

-- Ken, "Everyday above ground is a good day!"

View steliart's profile


2700 posts in 2714 days

#10 posted 04-26-2011 10:54 AM

NICE work on a beautiful clock

-- Stelios L.A. Stavrinides: - I am not so rich to buy cheap tools, but... necessity is the mother of all inventions

View Don Johnson's profile

Don Johnson

686 posts in 2806 days

#11 posted 04-26-2011 12:59 PM

Super job on the clock, and I agree with the comments about pleasure gained from repairing, and especially the opportunities for learning!

I recently repaired an old gramophone (HMV – but known in the US as Victrola (?) – Model 13A) and the opportunity for learning how to pack two 14 foot long 1 1/4 inch wide springs into something the size of a treacle tin was immense!

Getting them out had been another problem as the graphite grease used for lubrication 60 – 70 years ago had lost all its volatile components, and turned to black putty! Also some ‘grease’ had earlier leaked over the mechanism, and it was a scraping job to remove it as no solvent seemed to work – probably as there was nothing to dissolve!

The most rewarding aspect, however, involved the fact that the instrument had been the stand for a flower pot for many years, and water had obviously leaked at various times, bleaching a large white circle, and lifting the veneer so it curled up like wood shavings. I scraped away old glue under the veneer as best I could, and ‘squidged’ some new adhesive underneath and clamped one area down very hard! When the clamps were released, the veneer looked OK, so I did the same for other areas, even slitting the tops of bubbles to get some glue in. It didn’t look bad when finished, so I tried some varnish remover on the area outside the white ring, but really ended up sanding – very carefully – to get the whole top back to bare wood.

I applied about 9 coats of varnish in all, to get the colour back near the rest of the case, but I had to use some coloured touch-up pens between layers to try to blend in the edge of the white ring which I could not risk sanding too far. I searched the internet for ‘acoustically transparent’ speaker material to replace the silk at the front where the sound emerged, as that had been in tatters, and I think it ended up looking quite good.

As mentioned in the initial post, I got as much satisfaction out of re-creating the piece’s original look as if I had made the complete instrument myself, and my only regret is that I didn’t take a ‘before’ picture for comparison.

-- Don, Somerset UK,

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9231 posts in 2946 days

#12 posted 04-26-2011 01:30 PM

Hi, Dan!
It is really nice to see that people are repairing these beautiful pieces instead of just discarding them to get new ones.

So much of what is on the market today is crap. Even with all the people “going green” and recycling, there seems to be more waste than ever. It does my heart good to see you restoring such a beautiful piece. I really enjoyed your story!


-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs ( Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

View tinnman65's profile


1357 posts in 3440 days

#13 posted 04-26-2011 01:49 PM

As Sheila said its nice to see that beautiful old clock repaired and its also nice to know there are people willing to spend the money to have it restored instead of trashing it. I guess the fact that it dates from the 1840’s makes that common sense. Very nice work.

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

View Skylark53's profile


2671 posts in 3086 days

#14 posted 04-26-2011 02:50 PM

How very satisfying to rescue such a very fine peice. Your work displays the kind of passion for excellence that challenges and drives many of us. Details make the difference. Thanks for sharing.

-- Rick, Tennessee, John 3:16

View GaryD's profile


623 posts in 3395 days

#15 posted 04-26-2011 04:03 PM

Well done!!!!! Man that is a beautiful clock too.

-- Gary, Little River,SC I've Learned that the Lord didn't do it all in one day and neither can I

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