AW Antiques & Collectibles Restoration

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Antique Chair - Restoration Projects

Chairs before webbing and after


This late 1800s Oak hall chair, with caned back and seat needed some attention as a couple of spindle joints were loose so were re-glued. Finally, a thorough wax polish brought it back to a good finish showing the turned legs and carving to it's best advantage. This chair demonstrates the skills of the maker in wood turning by producing different shapes on the legs and again in the fine finials on the back etc. also the carving of the lions head terminals on the top of the chair. A very pretty example in the use of earlier period shapes of furniture design.
 Chair Before          Chair After


The Windsor chair below dates from around the late 1800s to early 1900 and is constructed of Elm, Ash and Beech. More expensive ones would have been made using Yew Wood especially on the arms. The name Windsor chairs came about in the Seventeenth Century when locally made chairs were shipped from Windsor downstream to London for sale in the markets there. The Windsor chair also proved popular as a design in North America from early times. Windsor chairs have been made in many forms but the style we know today (the Stickback Double Bow) is acknowledged as the true classic Windsor Chair and is much sought after for its comfort, style and above all durability.

The chair shown, in the before and after photos came to me in pieces, due to the glue having dried out and therefore needed to be reconstructed with new glued joints and then a wax polish, which has made it good for another 100 years.

INTERESTING FACT This chair has been owned by the same person since 1937, when it was left to him in a will by a lady who he had previously worked for, as a chauffeur, in Essex, when she became too old to drive herself. Prior to that he would stop on his way to work to start up her car ready for her to drive it.

QUOTE his actual words...."I used to cycle to work from my village in Willingale, to my garage in Chelmsford, a journey of 8 miles every day. This journey took me through the village of Roxwell. At that time Miss Christie, who was one of our customers, required her car to be started on very cold mornings. Now my Service Manager, Percy Mason was very cute. He saw an opportunity. Instead of sending out a fitter in a vehicle to Roxwell to assist her, he decided it would become my job to call at her house, start her car, and have it ready for her. This went on every weekday morning, six days a week, for a period of six months."UNQUOTE

As a matter of fact, it was described then in the will, as an "antique chair"., and resides with the owner in High Wycombe, Bucks. A town famous for furniture manufacture and quite possibly would have originally been made there.
 Chair Before          Chair After

Balloon Back Chairs

Above photos show a set of four Victorian chairs which have had the old upholstery removed along with any tacks left in the woodwork. Loose joints have been re-glued and any faults rectified, before new webbing has been stretched and tacked into place.

The second photo shows half way through the various procedures that follow once the new webbing is applied. This involves attaching the hessian over the webbing and stitching the bridle ties which will enable the first layer of stuffing to be attached. In this case Coire fibre. After which a thinner hessian called scrim is tacked to the frame over the top of the stuffing. To anchor the stuffing, large looped stitches are made using a double bayonet needle, threaded with twine. The procedure continues by applying more stitches to firm up the edges and then a second layer of stuffing is added on top. Finally, skin wadding and then calico is added. Pulling the calico tightly and tacking down to the frame creating a firm slightly domed shaped seat. The finishing fabric is applied and suitable gimp or braid (trimming) is glued around the edge to hide the tacks.

To see the finished chairs and the how they were, before being restored.
Victorian Balloon Back Chairs.

To see the finished chairs and the how they were, before being restored.

Ballon Back Chairs with drop in seats

These Victorian chairs have removable drop in seats and so a have a slightly different procedure to the ones above, when upholstering. The bottom photo shows, after the old upholstery has been removed and new webbing attached, Hessian tacked over and the bridle ties have been made for the black Coire stuffing to be secured. After which the Calico sheet is attached. On top of that a sheet of wadding cut to the size of the seat is placed before the final covering is put on.

To see the finished chairs after being restored.
CLICK HERE for Victorian Balloon Back Chairs with drop in seats.




Antique Chair Restoration Photo Project 1 - Before         Antique Chair Restoration

These Windsor back chairs were purchased at auction. Although they were sound in construction, they were dirty and one had been painted white.

I firstly removed the paint with Nitromoors paint remover using a medium steel wool to clean it off. Then I cleaned the wood with an antique wax remover and finished off with giving it a finish with antique finishing oil. They are stamped on the bottom of the seats High Wycombe which is the home of Windsor chairs and the centre of furniture manufacture. These chairs are dated around 1930 and they would have been used as kitchen chairs.

This set of six very attractive Victorian balloon back chairs

needed re-stuffing and recovering with new fabric.. Firstly the joints which were loose were re-glued, as much of the old glue had dried out. The tops to the balloon backs were also loose so they were carefully knocked out of the dowels which were holding them together.The joints were then cleaned and reglued.

Finally the wood was treated with antique finishing oil and polished.

Antique Chair Restoration Photo Project 1 - Before         Antique Chair Restoration

These photographs show how a broken chair leg can be out back together again with careful gluing and the use of concealed screws, finally making a dowel through the joint, bringing it back to it's original state making a strong joint once again.

This chair, called Victorian ladies or nursing chair, was quite a find, as it was a restorer's dream. The many coats of paint had in fact camouflaged the beauty that lay unseen beneath. The original white ceramic casters were intact although again covered in paint.

After many hours of hand stripping using a strong paint remover and cleaning off the residue with very fine steel wool, revealed was a solid walnut frame which when cleaned and nourished showed all it's natural colour again. The original coverings were removed including webbing, springs and stuffing. After re-gluing the loose joints and dipping the brass castor fittings in a brass cleaner to bring them back to new again.

I was then ready to re-upholster, fitting 8 new 6 inch springs strung together making a firm base for the coir and animal hair stuffing and finished in the original way. The back was deep buttoned to complete. The chair dates around 1870 to 1880. The following photos show the chair prior to restoration, and its fully restored splendour.

Antique Chair Restoration Photo Project 1 - Before        Antique Chair Restoration Photo Project 1 - After

The following pair of Edwardian occasional chairs needed repairing and re-upholstering, as the seating had become misshapen. They are a very pretty pair with open splat backs that have been inlaid with different coloured woods in the form of a flower. These types of chairs are always popular in auctions and sell well.

Antique Chair Restoration Photo Project 2 - Before        Antique Chair Restoration Photo Project 2 - After

They came to me without their castors, which I replaced with reproduction brass and ceramic ones, in keeping with the originals that would have been in place.

A useful point to look for when buying antique chairs is to turn them over and look at the seat rails, which are usually made in beech and are tenoned into a mortise joint in the legs of the chair. Until circa 1840-50 corner braces were added for extra strength. These fitted into slots in the top of the seat rails and were simply glued. After c1840-50 corner brackets were used, These were glued and screwed into the angle of the rails.

CLICK HERE for Dating Furniture Periods.

If you would like advice or a quote on restoring an Antique Chair, please get in touch by completing this short form. I am located in Maidenhead, Berkshire, UK.