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Refurbishing Antique Rocker

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Forum topic by slydog posted 05-05-2019 03:12 PM 418 views 0 times favorited 14 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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slydog

26 posts in 1968 days


05-05-2019 03:12 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question

So for this project I am kind of out of my normal element. What I have are 2 antique “slide” rockers. Their finish has deteriorated over the years so I’m looking to basically refurbish them. The wood is the really old fine grained oak (so it holds nails really well). The bolts are easy to deal with but the nails are almost stuck in like they have glue around them (they do not, but they do appear to be ribbed).

If anyone has some tips, insights, or even better “don’t do’s” I’d be very appreciative.

I’ll muddle through it. I’ve dis-assembled the rocker to it’s individual parts (except for one piece that I don’t think I can separate without shattering the wood). My plan was once dis-assembled to run it through a stripper compound, sand, and re-stain/finish and re-assemble.

Any insights, suggestions, pitfalls are welcomed. This isn’t something I’ve done—- I generally create from scratch.!

Overall pict:
https://s3.amazonaws.com/vs-lumberjocks.com/pr1e2b1.jpg!

The piece I’m having the most difficult to separate (those nails are killers!):

-- slydog, Houston


14 replies so far

View John Smith's profile

John Smith

2012 posts in 667 days


#1 posted 05-05-2019 04:29 PM

wow – great project !!
have you tried a flat spatula tool to gently separate the two pieces ?
the first spatula gets under the wood, a second spatula provides protection
from prying, insert a screwdriver or chisel between the two to force them apart.
if that doesn’t work;
as for the nails, I would use a nail set that has the recessed cup tip
and approach them from the back side.

.

-- I am a painter. That's what I do. I paint things --

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LittleShaver

582 posts in 1124 days


#2 posted 05-06-2019 01:34 PM

If it were in my shop, I’d leave it as is and scrape/sand the old finish off.

-- Sawdust Maker

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SMP

1387 posts in 410 days


#3 posted 05-06-2019 02:50 PM

I have a large 2 lb wooden mallet, and I usually will put one side an some wood on a solid surface, then hit from the back, starting softly then progressively harder until I see if its coming out or not. If i see any issues then I look for another solution but thats what i usally try first.

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bilyo

846 posts in 1607 days


#4 posted 05-06-2019 03:14 PM

I suggest that, before you proceed any further, you find out if they have any antique value. If they do, you may want to do some research on how to restore antiques. If they are old, rare, unusual, etc, your methods of repair and/or restoration should be different. Also, do not throw away any hardware. Not even the smallest nail. You will find that all can be important in determining date of manufacture.

If none of the above matters, then proceed as you are. However, if a particular joint is tight and secure, even if fastened with nails, don’t separate it. It has lasted this long. Why not leave it?

If the nailed joints must be taken apart, as mentioned above, either lever them or tap them to make some separation. If they won’t move any farther without damage, insert a bare hacksaw blade between them and cut the nails. The headed end of the nails can then be driven out with a punch. The other end can likely be left in place without harm.

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slydog

26 posts in 1968 days


#5 posted 05-07-2019 04:17 AM

Thank y’all for the feedback.

@bilyo I’m not concerned about their antique value. I wouldn’t part with these for sentimental reasons (they are from my inlaw’s estate). I’d rather have them be functional again and remain solid for multi-years to come again. I’m too cheap to discard any hardware, although putting nails back in might be more appropriate, I’m considering putting screws in so if/when I have to do this again, it should be a heck of a lot easier. I like the idea of slipping a hacksaw blade to chop off the nails and hole-punch them out. That has some potential; but then again, you’ve made me reconsider why I’m even trying to separate this last basic piece instead of just leaving it and doing the more detailed/time-consuming stripping of a complex piece.

@SMP – the mallet/banging approach was my first attempt. That just wasn’t going to work without a lot of damage.

@LittleShaver – The form for this may be antique, but I’m looking for a solidly finished piece. I’ve tried the route of sanding scraping and even after stripping you have to do that; but starting out at the original point has left me with a less then ideal product.

@John Smith – The spatula approach has real merit. I’d think of inserting one but not two so that a pry between them would protect the surfaces. Great idea.

To all who have responded: Thank you. Each of you have given me ideas on how I might get through this obstacle. I’ve read all of your posts and (even if I haven’t addressed each comment) I have assimilated each of your comments and at least now have a plan of attack on how I might “get ‘er done”, even if it’s leave it as is and just strip/sand as is.

THANKS y’all.

-- slydog, Houston

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slydog

26 posts in 1968 days


#6 posted 05-07-2019 04:19 AM

Adding to this post——this is the first of two similar kinds of chairs (with that rocker assembly). The next one to do was painted in red and, like the first, left outside in the weather. That’s another challenge :)

-- slydog, Houston

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slydog

26 posts in 1968 days


#7 posted 05-13-2019 06:42 PM

THE NEXT phase …

I’‘m creating a container for the stripper compound. I’m trying to make it fairly small so I limit the amount of material.

If any of y’all have some opinion/experience, what would you use as the glue for the container. I will screw each piece and plan to double align the vessel with tin-foil, but …. maybe y’all have some better ideas as to how to create this vessel.

It’s my next phase in this project, so commentary (early) would be very welcomed.

-- slydog, Houston

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slydog

26 posts in 1968 days


#8 posted 05-13-2019 06:44 PM

I should probably edit my statement—-

The need for the glue is in the event that the stripper compound escapes from the aluminum foil. I really do not want it leaking onto my workbench if I can avoid that.

-- slydog, Houston

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bilyo

846 posts in 1607 days


#9 posted 05-14-2019 02:03 PM

How big does it need to be? I always use a couple of plastic bowls salvaged from something we bought from the grocery store; one for the fresh stripper and one for the scrapings. Or, if you need it to be even bigger, how about using a plastic dish pan or a kitty litter pan?

This is usually a very messy process. I would do it outside if you can and maybe spread some plastic sheet down where you will be working. Your workbench, where leftover drippings might come in contact with other project parts or tools, is not a real good place to do it.

View LesB's profile

LesB

2200 posts in 3948 days


#10 posted 05-14-2019 04:56 PM

I’m not a fan of using chemical strippers when it can be avoided.

I would first try scraping the old finish off by hand and then sanding. This has worked well for me on many projects. I suggest using the Warner 741 paint scraper. It is inexpensive (under $4) and uses a curved tempered steel blade with two sharp edges that can be re-sharpened many times with a file or a bench grinder. It may take you a little practice to get the correct angle when resharpening. Additional blades are available also. I have tried a variety of other scrapers but this one works the best.

-- Les B, Oregon

View anneb3's profile

anneb3

64 posts in 2058 days


#11 posted 05-15-2019 12:55 AM



I should probably edit my statement—-

The need for the glue is in the event that the stripper compound escapes from the aluminum foil. I really do not want it leaking onto my workbench if I can avoid that.

- slydog

WARNING , be carefull. stripper is dangerous. take the skin right off your hands. If you go the stripper route, drill the nail and screw entry holes before assembling. Washing stripper out allows the wood to expand.

strip, strip, sand, sand’ You are kinda stuck with the painted one BUT here is a possible solution for the other one

Roberts, Restore and Finish I think you can even varnish over it.

Buy the best exterior varnish there is. Unless you want to sand and revarnish every spring.

This project will keep you occupied all summer, Have fun

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anneb3

64 posts in 2058 days


#12 posted 05-15-2019 01:04 AM


I should probably edit my statement—-

The need for the glue is in the event that the stripper compound escapes from the aluminum foil. I really do not want it leaking onto my workbench if I can avoid that.

- slydog

WARNING , be carefull. stripper is dangerous. take the skin right off your hands. If you go the stripper route, drill the nail and screw entry holes before assembling. Washing stripper out allows the wood to expand.

strip, strip, sand, sand You are kinda stuck with the painted one BUT here is a possible solution for the other one

Howards, Restore and Finish I think you can even varnish over it.

Buy the best exterior varnish there is. Unless you want to sand and revarnish every spring.

This project will keep you occupied all summer, Have fun

- anneb3


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slydog

26 posts in 1968 days


#13 posted 05-15-2019 02:54 AM

In my “younger” life, I worked for an antique store and we had to refurbish a lot of stuff. I am very much aware of stripper compounds and their inherent issues (from destroying your product, but also getting it back to the original). My concern here is if any of y’all created a container for holding the stripper product and what you’d use (do did use) for a “sealant”. The pieces are fairly small in width (long though), so there isn’t much product available for just putting them in for the soak unless you want to use a lot of stripper compound (which is my goal to avoid by creating this vessel).

If I could just scrape the surface without using stripper, I would. Using stripper is a last and ultimately a painful resort – execution and cleanup. Unfortunately, for these pieces, I cannot see just a scrape and sand.

I’ve a power washer, so I might just try that instead. 3300 PSI jet might just do the trick. I hadn’t thought of that until right now.

@anneb3 – yeah, I’m aware of some of the dangers with stripper and definitely know that you need the right “chemical” gloves when using it. I have, in my youth. learned how that product burns!!!!! No fun there at all when you get it wrong or reach for a piece that hasn’t been cleaned. Ouch is a good word, but somewhat inadequate, IMO.

-- slydog, Houston

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bilyo

846 posts in 1607 days


#14 posted 05-15-2019 09:39 PM

If you are going to make a container so that you can submerse the pieces you are stripping, make a frame the size you need and drape heavy duty plastic sheet over it and fold the edges so that it drops into the frame. DON’T use aluminum foil. the stripper will react with it. Without thinking about it I recently tried to clean some dried paint from an aluminum measuring cup with some left over stripper I had and it got very hot and started smoking. Then I remembered not to do it. It probably tells you on the can of stripper not to put it into an aluminum container.

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