One Big-Ass Bellows (Restoration)

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Project by Eric M. Saperstein posted 03-18-2012 03:31 AM 3404 views 0 times favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This Blacksmith’s forge bellows is one of the original functional pieces from the Blacksmith’s shops of Lakewood, NJ. The piece has been on display at the Lakewood Heritage Museum in its original found condition, until finally funds were raised to properly restore and preserve it.

The piece was broken down to its component sections, which were reglued and reassembled as required.

The working hinges and leather were repaired and replaced as needed. The internal ribs are replaced, the originals were too far deteriorated to restore the piece to a functional condition.

The New leather is from Heath’s Restoration Shop; Russ Heath provided the sewing and pattern cutting to provide a close fit for our installation. We took the leather cut to a close template we made with paper and finish the fitting process.

The project seems more appropriate to photo illustrate than attempt to describe. A bellows is a simple machine, but the restoration is time consuming, especially when there’s oh maybe 1,000 upholstery tacks holding the leather in place! Not the mouse nest inside – always a good place to keep your rodents is in your antiques!

We made new leather ribs, and had a stencil cut to properly letter the restored piece. “For a Blow Out Blow In!” – apparently a common term on bellows of its heyday.

We finished restoring this piece in 2010 – it started in the summer of 2009. We took our time and provided the museum with details on the project, proposals, waited out the approvals, etc. I’m not really sure why I hadn’t posted this one yet – oh well it’s up now!

-- Eric M. Saperstein, Master Craftsman

7 comments so far

#1 posted 03-18-2012 08:36 AM

Very nice job looks great.

-- (L an D Woodworks)

View Eagle1's profile


2066 posts in 3208 days

#2 posted 03-18-2012 09:02 AM

WOW!! Looking at the pictures before the restored one. You would have never thought it could be saved. But great work there.

Thanks for sharing.. Quite a piece of history there..

-- Tim, Missouri ....Inside every older person is a younger person wondering what the heck happened

View jeepturner's profile


939 posts in 2936 days

#3 posted 03-18-2012 02:01 PM

Nice restoration! Thanks for sharing it, but an even bigger thanks for all of the pictures.
It is a simple machine, but I am sure it was prized for it’s function in it’s day.

-- Mel,

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2832 posts in 3700 days

#4 posted 03-18-2012 02:50 PM

Nice job on the restoration and a thank you for preserving history.

-- Don, Royersford, PA

View Ken90712's profile


17575 posts in 3332 days

#5 posted 03-18-2012 05:18 PM

What a great save of history! This is such a cool post. Great work.

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

View ChuckV's profile


3171 posts in 3671 days

#6 posted 03-19-2012 01:08 AM

Excellent job! I really enjoy seeing projects like this.

-- “Big man, pig man, ha ha, charade you are.” ― R. Waters

View Martyroc's profile


2712 posts in 2450 days

#7 posted 03-19-2012 03:01 AM

Great restoration.

-- Martin ....always count the number of fingers you have before, and after using the saw.

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