My Furniture Projects

When I am not doing philosophy, I can sometimes be found refinishing and reupholstering old furniture.  I learned to refinish from my father, and learned to reupholster in a $30 Adult Ed course in Lexington, Kentucky, which turned out to be a very wise investment.  I do old-fashioned, European-style upholstery, using tacks, horsehair, and cotton batting.  I strip down the furniture to the webbing and re-do the piece from the ground up.  Here are a few samples of some of my projects.

This is a chair that matches a couch from a neighbor whose mother didn't want to just put it in the alley, as it belonged to her grandmother.  The neighbor said, "If you take the couch, you have to take the chair."  Both are hand-carved walnut.  The couch was the first couch I reupholstered.  I stripped off the velvet fabric on a 98 degree day, and the velvet stuck to my sweat.

 

 

This chair was hand-carved by my grandfather probably in the 1940s when he worked at a furniture factory in Chicago.  I reupholstered it for my brother.  I was very skeptical about the quail meadow pattern on the fabric he picked out, but it seems to go with the chair, and turned out to be one of my favorite projects.  The pattern on the fabric highlights the carving on the wood.

 

 

This is the backside of the quail meadow pattern chair.

 

 

Side view of the quail meadow pattern chair.  A lot goes into lining up the pattern just so.

 

 

This is a chair I reupholstered for my parents, this one hand-carved by my grandfather at the Chicago factory.  I did a third chair in the same fabric for my aunt and uncle. The sweaty couch project.

 

 

This is a second chair of the set I did for my parents.

 

 

 

 

 

This is my favorite project to date, and the most difficult piece I've worked on -- check out all those buttons!  It's a hand-carved, walnut loveseat that belonged to my grandparents.  When we were cleaning out their house, my mother and uncle asked me if there was anything I wanted.  I pointed to the very dusty faded green loveseat, and they both spun on their heels and said in unison, "This?"  I got the pale seafoam with ivory embroidered fabric on the internet for a song.

 

 

Another angle of the loveseat.

 

 

This is another couch from a Chicago alley.  It was soaking wet from rain when I rescued it.  Everyone made fun of me for taking "this junk" except for the neighbor who gave me his great-grandparents' couch in the earlier photo.  He said, "I know you'll make it beautiful."

 

 

 

This is a desk from a colleague who acquired it in Liverpool.  Apparently my colleague gave rides to the church to the minister next door so he could perform funeral services at a moment's notice, and got the desk in return.  When I got it, the top was covered with yellow and green contact paper, the handles were coated with chipped white paint, and all the wood needed to be refinished.  I used polyurethane on the body, which is oak, and coated the top with epoxy to even the surface and allow the grain of the various woods (oak and pine) to show through.  I left a lot of the markings on top in case the Beatles had anything to do with them.

 

A better shot of the grain of the wood on the desk.

 

 

This is a chair in progress.  It's an old platform rocker, my first reupholstering attempt that is now getting a make-over because it needed new springs and refinishing. 

Stay tuned for more projects.....

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