Restoration vs repair

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paulrbarnard

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I just watched The Repair Shop and Will worked on a chair. All the joints were broken so he knocked them apart and re glued. All good I thought until I noticed he was using PVA glue. I restored a set of dining chairs made by my grandfather and re glued with hide glue, which is what was originally used. That means that my grand kid can do the same again in another 50 years.

What is the general though on the right approach, to restore (make it as original) or repair (make it serviceable)

My concern with the repair done by Will is that it is not reversible and when the joints rack again it’s likely to be the wood that fails rather than the glue.
 

Adam W.

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It's a tricky one, and it depends on its percieved or actual value I suppose.

Yours has actual value, as it was made by your grandfather with all of the family memories that are attached to that, however a shop bought set of chairs may just be viewed as a set of chairs to sit on.
 

MARK.B.

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Tough one to answer Paul :unsure: the work and time involved would be similar as i would think the cost give or take a pound or two . So i think it depends if you or your client have a preference or the piece is of enough value for another round of restoration in years to come
 

paulrbarnard

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Tough one to answer Paul :unsure: the work and time involved would be similar as i would think the cost give or take a pound or two . So i think it depends if you or your client have a preference or the piece is of enough value for another round of restoration in years to come
My thinking was on the lines of the work would have been identical, just needing to pick up a different glue pot. It just struck me as being a poor choice. Hence asking what others feel about it.

I was only partially watching but thought I heard the chair to be from the coronation of George V or something like that. No idea if it had value but it certainly had some age.
 

MARK.B.

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Have to say that i have not used hide glue myself but if i had and i knew it was the right one for the job through experience/knowledge , then that's the one i would use:)
 

Adam W.

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@paulbarnard There's reams written about this stuff, but you're right that it should be a like for like repair, especially if the chair is that old.

But then, I repair historic oak framed buildings with new machine sawn oak and the argument is that you can see the new repair in the tool marks and one can trace the history of repairs by looking at the evidence in the different materials or methods which went in to produce them.

It can be a real can of worms when you get to the museum quality level.
 

paulrbarnard

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But then, I repair historic oak framed buildings with new machine sawn oak and the argument is that you can see the new repair in the tool marks and one can trace the history of repairs by looking at the evidence in the different materials or methods which went in to produce them.

I completely get that and it makes a lot of sense in some ways, though gets taken to rediculous lengths some times. Some bad examples on Grand Designs have made me cringe, where a building is made habitable but the entire project gets modelled around the one original timber that was not completely rotted.

At least you didn’t say “you can read the buildings narrative…”. You would have made it to my ignore list 😜
 

Stuart Moffat

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It’s not the first time that he has used PVA where l wouldn’t. A few years ago I was commissioned to restore an old singer machine from around 1890 that had been in the family and used professionally for a lot of its life.... until left at the back of a shed for a few years. I had to complete nature’s attempt to delaminate the lid using a steam iron to warm the hide glue. It therefore jarred with me when I saw Will introduce PVA between leaves. If there is any future delaminaing on that big lid the option to remove the top decorative layer will have gone IMHO. But I still like him! however a better source of advice for repairing old sewing machines might be found by Googling the Fenman on needlbar Here
 
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dzj

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Re-gluing joints with pva is always a problem, because often when scraping away the old glue, the joints become loose.
PVA doesn't work well with gappy joints.
Usually the tenon is then 'fattened' with a bit o veneer or such to bridge this gap (if one's heart is set on using pva),
Easier to use hide glue, though.
 

AES

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I just watched The Repair Shop and Will worked on a chair. All the joints were broken so he knocked them apart and re glued. All good I thought until I noticed he was using PVA glue. I restored a set of dining chairs made by my grandfather and re glued with hide glue, which is what was originally used. That means that my grand kid can do the same again in another 50 years.

What is the general though on the right approach, to restore (make it as original) or repair (make it serviceable)

My concern with the repair done by Will is that it is not reversible and when the joints rack again it’s likely to be the wood that fails rather than the glue.

I watched that too Paul, and like you at the time I wondered at Will's use of PVA. You're right, the original chair "sitter" was a WWI hero and was selected as an usher at the Coronation of King George VI in I think, 1937. After the ceremony the Usher's got given their chairs to keep, so I'd say that chair had "some value (!) to the family. As to why Will used PVA I've no idea, and it wasn't mentioned. However in previous episodes of Repair Shop Will has often used hot glue from the pot (I think I even remember him explaining that the glue is made from "pearls" mixed in the hot pot) so as said, why he used PVA this time I have no idea.

And to pick up on a point above, I do watch RS fairly regularly, and I have seen Will use a bit of thin wood (veneer?) to repair gappy tenons in the past.
 

robgul

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I too was surprised that he used PVA - and white PVA at that - if I was going to use PVA I'd have used yellow (like Titebond) as that has some other properties.

Reality is that chair is unlikely to be sat on - being of such value/provenance so perhaps not so much of an issue?
 

TheTiddles

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I'd use gorilla glue....🤣🤣🤣

I'll get my coat....
Yeah, me too. Tough, stays liquid long enough so it can push into the voids, decent water resistance and doesn’t go crystalline and let go.

I’ve never repaired a chair that wasn’t for sitting on, they go in the firewood pile.
 

Jacob

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Anybody watch the Ercol prog last night?
Interesting stuff but I couldn't watch it all through because of the twatty pair presenting it, gurning their way through with feeble jokes, innuendos and very high "wow" count. Only had to mention "chair bottom" and they were off giggling like 5 year olds!
Moaning apart - I've got a few Ercol bits and they seem indestructible, as compared to older windsor chairs which need fixing on a regular basis. I use PVA and bits of muslin to pack out the joint as they tend to have worn larger. Not averse to putting in the occasional screw - brass, because I expect it'll be me having to take it out again in 5 years or so.
Is there a better way with rickety old windsor chairs?
 

paulrbarnard

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I watched that too Paul, and like you at the time I wondered at Will's use of PVA. You're right, the original chair "sitter" was a WWI hero and was selected as an usher at the Coronation of King George VI in I think, 1937. After the ceremony the Usher's got given their chairs to keep, so I'd say that chair had "some value (!) to the family. As to why Will used PVA I've no idea, and it wasn't mentioned. However in previous episodes of Repair Shop Will has often used hot glue from the pot (I think I even remember him explaining that the glue is made from "pearls" mixed in the hot pot) so as said, why he used PVA this time I have no idea.

And to pick up on a point above, I do watch RS fairly regularly, and I have seen Will use a bit of thin wood (veneer?) to repair gappy tenons in the past.
George VI is far more likely than George V 😀 I just tuned my mind in as the chair got dismantled and glued.
 

Sporky McGuffin

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But then, I repair historic oak framed buildings with new machine sawn oak and the argument is that you can see the new repair in the tool marks and one can trace the history of repairs by looking at the evidence in the different materials or methods which went in to produce them.

I like this approach - it seems both honest (for want of a more accurate term) and in keeping with the original.
 

Henniep

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Much of what follows has been said in this thread in one form or another. I suggest that if the piece is antique and primarily for display, then use the glue-type of the period it was made. If it's simply a repair job, use the strong modern product. When I repair I 'fix it good' so hopefully nobody will battle with my techniques, cos it's not gonna break again!
 

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