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Awhile back a customer of mine asked me if I could restore, or do a complete makeover of a settee he purchased off of eBay. The settee was from the early 1800's and he wanted the entire piece stripped, gone through, new rails fabricated, and various repairs. The settee had gone through a life of abuse, and it ended up with a thousand holes in it, upholstered with some gosh awful tweed fabric, actually layers of upholstery ended up on it, and long story short, it was a mess, and he wanted a new settee. About the only thing he really liked on it, were the legs, and the beautiful curled maple they were made from. Later I will show a photo montage of the entire project, but this story is about how I repaired a seemingly destroyed balled foot. My customer wanted me to just cut it off, and make all the legs the same size, I told him I could save it. The image below is how the foot looked when I received the settee in my shop. As you can see there was hole in the center of the foot, that was to accommodate casters that were on all four legs. The hole for the casters weakened the ball foot and it finally gave way, cracked and just sheared off. The next image is after I stripped down the entire settee, and started in on the refinishing process. I know I know! That lovely patina, gone! It tore me up to sand it out, and take the project down to bare wood again, but hey, I was getting paid to do a job. So at first look, it does look dismal, but I knew there was hope for this leg, I could save it! I've seen worse! So I set about to paring away at the damaged wood with my Marples chisel, I was not worried about shaping the leg repair to be a perfect 90 degrees to accept the repair block, because I knew I had a trick up my sleeve to make the final fit, just perfect. I pared away at the ball foot just so the repair block fit reasonably well. I used Maple, and I tried to get a good matching grain orientation as you'll see in the images below. The trick here is once you get the fit close, use a piece of sand paper to bring the fit to final. Do not fold the paper in half, this will only distort both sides of the fit as you pull the sandpaper out from between the repair block and the piece to be repaired. Each time you must insert the sandpaper in between the two pieces, then as you apply pressure to the repair block, pull the sand paper out. After time, and with a bit of patience, the sandpaper will have created a custom perfect fit including matching any valleys or highs, or uneven shaping of the repair area. The repair block will conform to the odd shape of the piece to be repaired. Keep inserting the sand paper, then pull out, over and over. The fit will materialize. And you'll have a perfect fitting repair block. Finally, time to glue up the repair block. After the glue set up, I then commenced to paring away at the repair block to rough it in close. My Marple 1" chisel worked beautifully for this task. I almost have her ready for final shaping. After I got it close, I shaped the repair block down to match the existing ball with shoulder as well. note the grain orientation. To bring the repair block to final shape, I used a file and then I blended the repair in with 220 sand paper, and it turned out pretty close to the original shape. This was a successful repair, it took all of an hour to get it all wrapped up, and we got to save the other three legs, remember the customer originally said to just cut this leg down and the rest as well to match, I would not! Later I'll show some images of the final restoration, you cannot even see this repair, it looked splendid after all was said and done. Cheers!
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