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Advice for restoration project please.

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HamsterJam

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Hi everyone,
Although I’ve been turning for about a year, I don’t get a lot of time on the lathe so probably count as relatively inexperienced.
I’m doing a small restoration job which means I need to copy this approx 12” long by 1” spindle. Two main questions...
1. How do you recommend I approach this?
2. Any suggestions what to finish it with to get a similar colour?
I have some some suitable pieces of beech, ash, oak and pine but if I need anything else I’ll need to buy it, although I did wonder about practicing on some broom handle first.
I am thinking of using a profile gauge to make a cardboard guide.
Any suggestions or tips gratefully received thank-you.

1601326648857.jpeg
 

MusicMan

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Of those woods, ash or beech would be a very good choice, if you cannot determine what the original is.

Making a template is, I think, essential. Also mark on the template the diameters at a number of critical points (max and min of rings etc.).

Finish: stain and shellac, apply and polish on the lathe at low speed.

What period furniture is it? Can we see the whole thing?

Yes, worth some skew chisel practice first!
 

HamsterJam

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Of those woods, ash or beech would be a very good choice, if you cannot determine what the original is.

Making a template is, I think, essential. Also mark on the template the diameters at a number of critical points (max and min of rings etc.).

Finish: stain and shellac, apply and polish on the lathe at low speed.

What period furniture is it? Can we see the whole thing?

Yes, worth some skew chisel practice first!
Thank-you for your reply. I would post the whole item if I had it. It’s a job for a family member and I only took the spindle away.
It is the stretcher from the base of a child’s rocking chair which has been in the family for a few generations. I presume someone broke the other one by standing on it as it had been replaced with a rather roughly hewn piece of wood that was also a little too short.
the rest of it is in good condition.
 

HamsterJam

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It’s similar to the one in this picture, (although in rather better condition) which I just nabbed off a popular auction site 😉
1601376346710.png
 

MusicMan

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Um, so that is the rear stretcher you have, and you have to replace the from one?

You have to decide if you are going to clean the whole chair, or whether you are going to distress the replacement to match! I would personally go for a clean but not a refinish.

I am wondering if this is boxwood. If so, I have just bought a load from Mark Hancock of this forum and may be able to help. But yes, practice on something else first!
 

HamsterJam

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Um, so that is the rear stretcher you have, and you have to replace the from one?

You have to decide if you are going to clean the whole chair, or whether you are going to distress the replacement to match! I would personally go for a clean but not a refinish.

I am wondering if this is boxwood. If so, I have just bought a load from Mark Hancock of this forum and may be able to help. But yes, practice on something else first!
Thanks. Note the picture is a similar chair - the one I’m working on is very much cleaner and better polished with the wood having a much darker colour.
I have the front stretcher and it is the rear stretcher I need to make but no guarantee they weren’t swapped when one was broken as the piece of wood I’m replacing is basically square with the corners chamfered and the ends whittled to fit the round holes.
 

HamsterJam

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Managed to escape to the garage today and have a practice with a bit of pine. A long way from perfect and deliberately slightly over sized (on the basis I can always shave a bit more off but can’t stick it back on).
I have had a couple of catches using a skew chisel to form the grooves.
Any suggestions how I should be presenting it please?

image.jpg
 

Sheptonphil

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It’s a decent first effort for sure, but for a novice, I think you may be better off using a spindle gouge for this piece, perhaps the skew tip, small parting tool or pointed scraper to form the tiny grooves and parting took to form the tenons unless you have a flat carbide tool. It’s not really the time to be practicing skew control on a shaped spindle. You could end up with hours of work in it to ruin it at the end in two seconds. Get it pretty damn close like your test piece and let abrasive paper be your friend for final dimensioning.
save your skew practice for something which doesn’t matter is you screw up right at the end.
 

MusicMan

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On reflection I think that is good advice from SheptonPhil, even though the skew chisel is the ultimate tool for this.

You probably know this but always move "downhill", that is, take the material off from thick to thin, never the reverse (which is like planing against the grain).

After getting your spindle trued up, put pencil lines (with the lather running) on all the key features: beginnings and ends of rings, changes of slope etc. Then mark them (and make the tiny grooves) with the pointed scraper.

Have you decided on the wood yet? It may be boxwood but maple will probably work as the stain is quite dark. I would try Van Dyke crystals for the stain, but try on a scrap spindle (your first attempt with the real wood!) first.
 

peter-harrison

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One small thing- I wouldn't use the ash. Its grain will show up strongly when you stain it, and it won't match the original.
 

HamsterJam

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Thank-you everyone. I thought I’d report back with the finished item. Used birch in the end. Still a few errors but I think it is good enough. (Original is the one on the left.) Tenons slightly oversize as I don’t have the chair here so plan either to sand to size or open the holes when I tidy them up.
I did as Music Man suggested with the pencil lines and followed Shepton Phil’s advice and did most of the shaping with a spindle gouge and then ran a skew over it for the grooves and to get a smoother surface.
38186BFE-54DC-48AD-98D3-DA82185893A6.jpeg
 

MusicMan

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Thanks for reporting back. That's a really nice job! Good stain match, too.
 

Sheptonphil

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Damn fine job. Making a spindle is one thing, replicating one is an entirely different task. You should be proud of that.

When you get the chair back, you can always remount to the lathe to finalise the tenons, you’ll never sand them true round freehand.
 
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