Saturday, 10 March 2012

Piano's Tool

     I decided to have a change today. I made a start on a piano stool I bought on eBay. It cost £8, from a chap in Tartleton, who had bought it himself as a restoration project which had never got underway. Here is the picture from the auction, showing the stool in its original condition. 

I bought it to restore myself, as a seat for the bureau.
The first step was to disassemble the stool into its component parts. This is an Edwardian stool, made at the turn of the 20th century, so was made using either fish, skin or horn glue. The joy of these natural glues is that they are used when hot, so reheating them will soften the glue and you can pull the job to pieces. Or you can buy specialist solvents, which will dissolve the glue. Or you can do what I did - get a wooden mallet and set about the stool like you would a red-headed stepchild. 

Here's the stool in bits.

The next thing was to remove the hinges, the slide and the old upholstery tacks. The hinges and the screws holding them had rusted and wouldn't budge, so I forced them off with an old chisel. The tacks were also in a bad state, so I had to dig some of them out with an old chisel. Here's a moral - don't throw old chisels away.

The late Victorians and Edwardians had a love of brown varnish with the colour and consistency of cold gravy, and they slathered it about like it was going out of fashion, (which, as it happens, it was). It needs to come off. There's a few of ways of doing this - blow torch, hot air gun, chemical stripper, or, as I did, sanding. I took the worst off with a detail sander, then finished with a rotary sander. It's dirty, dusty and time consuming work, but I think it gives the best finish. I've done main body and one leg today - I'll do the rest tomorrow. As time was getting on, and I didn't want to disturb the neighbours by using power tools, I finished off the bits I had sanded. I filled any holes (including the screw holes), with coloured wood filler, which I sanded off as it dried. Some reprobate had used the stool as a dart board in the past - unless they were trying to fake woodworm holes. 

The unseen parts of the stool - beneath the upholstery - were very rough. Again, furniture makers of the past didn't waste time and effort on what nobody will see.

Here's what a side piece looked like.

Before ...

...and after.

And here's the contrast of an original leg and a sanded one.

When all was finished, I started to stain the newly sanded pieces. I'm using ebony stain, as piano stools of this period are traditionally darkly coloured. 

The wood stain needs time to dry, so I started on re-upholstering the seat. You can see the tools here, from top left, and going clockwise: - hessian liner, the seat base, the original flock padding, shears, hammer, craft knife and half-inch blue tacks.

I tacked the hessian liner onto the seat base, in the middle of one side, then put the padding onto the seat. I decided to re-use the original flock padding. Just a whim.

Then, working from opposite sides, from the middle to the corners, I tacked the hessian over the padding. This is simply to hold the padding in place, so I only put a few tacks in.  The hessian came from a craft shop in Clitheroe, £2.50 for a metre.

Then, using the same procedure, I put the tapestry-style seat covering onto the base. I bought this remnant for 99p on eBay. It is loosely tacked on, as I am going to finish it off with braid and brass tacks later. That will have to wait until Monday, when I can go to the market.

A better picture of the true red colour of the cloth.

Catching up on the costs (again)

Side table                                                   £21.59

Circular table                                             £10.00

Magazine rack                                           £5.00

Sub-total                                                    £36.59

Today's costs : -

Piano stool                                                  £8.00

Ebony woodstain                                        £4.60

Hessian liner                                               £2.50

Tapestry fabric (inc. p&p @ £1.95)           £2.94

Today's total                                               £18.04

Running total  £463.92

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