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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hi all, first post here about wood working.

I took on the restoration of a beautiful old wooden bench made by a friend's grandfather back in the late 1930's or early 1940's. It sat outside for a long time and as a result, it's seen better days and needs some love.

When the spindles for the back were originally cut, they were done so as pictured. Five or six of the tongues (?) have broken off over the years and will require replacement. I can probably rough cut these with a bandsaw and then take them the rest of the way down by hand, but how do you think these were cut originally and how would you recreate them?

Suggestions are appreciated.





 

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The 1930's were rather recent and they had all of the major machines that we have now. Those "spindles" look rectangular. I would imagine there were cut with some type of powered saw. The tongue's were probably had sawed and cut.

I would duplicate them just as they were originally made. You should be able to cut the spindles to size and angle with a good hand saw.

By the way, we have an introductory section where It is nice if you give us a few words about yourself and your woodworking background.

George
 

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The 1930's were rather recent and they had all of the major machines that we have now. Those "spindles" look rectangular. I would imagine there were cut with some type of powered saw. The tongue's were probably had sawed and cut.

I would duplicate them just as they were originally made. You should be able to cut the spindles to size and angle with a good hand saw.

By the way, we have an introductory section where It is nice if you give us a few words about yourself and your woodworking background.

George
Thanks George.

Here's my "Greetings" post.
 

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I believe I would preserve the old wood and repair the slats. You could cut the broken tenon off flush and put the slat in a vice where you could make a template where you could mortise a slot in the end it. It would have to be oversized and glue a replacement tenon in the end of it. After it dries you could trim it to the angle that matches the good ones.
 

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The technical term for the type of joinery you are looking at is mortise and tenon joint. How you duplicate the cuts depends on the tools you own. You mentioned you have a band saw and that can be a useful tool in duplicating the slanted tenon (or is it bent from time?). I would use my table saw (my preference). How ever you make the joinery - the typical method for mortise and tenon is to cut the mortise first and the tenon 2nd (mortise is the square hole and tenon is the "tongue"). The tenon is typically cut a bit hefty and slimmed down to size. The correct size is when you can slip the tenon into the mortise (by hand force) and it should hold itself in place. A properly fitted tenon should be tight but you should also be able to take it apart by hand. If you need to use a mallet to take it apart, it's too tight and all the glue will be squeezed out when assembling... too loose and it will be weak.
 

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The technical term for the type of joinery you are looking at is mortise and tenon joint. How you duplicate the cuts depends on the tools you own. You mentioned you have a band saw and that can be a useful tool in duplicating the slanted tenon (or is it bent from time?). I would use my table saw (my preference). How ever you make the joinery - the typical method for mortise and tenon is to cut the mortise first and the tenon 2nd (mortise is the square hole and tenon is the "tongue"). The tenon is typically cut a bit hefty and slimmed down to size. The correct size is when you can slip the tenon into the mortise (by hand force) and it should hold itself in place. A properly fitted tenon should be tight but you should also be able to take it apart by hand. If you need to use a mallet to take it apart, it's too tight and all the glue will be squeezed out when assembling... too loose and it will be weak.
Bernie, thanks for the note and the lesson on terminology. Your comments help validate my decision for joining this forum.

I have several saws available to me, including a table saw. The angle of the tenon was intentional as all of them have it and is what gives the back of the bench a comfortable sitting angle. The tenons appear to have broken down because of age/moisture rot and not force.

That said, Steve's suggestion that I try to salvage the original wood has weighed on me since before I made this post given the age of the piece and its sentimental value to my friend.

However, I'll replace the broken spindles if for some reason I can't fix the existing ones. I'm big on photos, I'll document the process whichever way I go.

~Mark
 

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I have seen many comments from Steve and I respect him for the careful and informative posts he gives... but (sorry Steve) I disagree with him on this one. I believe he miss read your (Mark) skill level. What he is saying is good advise for a very skilled woodworker deeply involved in period restoration (authentic antique restoration - like museum work). But for most folks (including myself), functional restoration is acceptable. With "functional" restoration, your friend will still have their treasured piece as long as you keep the original wood species identical (I would bet red oak in this case). The end result will be very good (unless your friend is a museum curator).

The challenge with Steve's method is that the new tenon and new mortise will need to be deep because when gluing pieces together, the pieces can not rely on end grain for strength and stability. Wood glue is designed to adhere face grain to face grain.
 

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I have seen many comments from Steve and I respect him for the careful and informative posts he gives... but (sorry Steve) I disagree with him on this one. I believe he miss read your (Mark) skill level. What he is saying is good advise for a very skilled woodworker deeply involved in period restoration (authentic antique restoration - like museum work). But for most folks (including myself), functional restoration is acceptable. With "functional" restoration, your friend will still have their treasured piece as long as you keep the original wood species identical (I would bet red oak in this case). The end result will be very good (unless your friend is a museum curator).

The challenge with Steve's method is that the new tenon and new mortise will need to be deep because when gluing pieces together, the pieces can not rely on end grain for strength and stability. Wood glue is designed to adhere face grain to face grain.
Well Bernie perhaps I didn't describe it very well. I didn't think it was that difficult to route a slot in the end of a slat and glue a plug of wood in it to replace the tenon. It would functionally be a dowel.
 

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Divern ,
another piece of terminology for you .

What you have there are slats .
Long, thin, flat , slats .
Spindles are cylindrical .
They have been spun/turned in the making , on a lathe or in the case some Bodgers , shaved then turned then shaved then turned and so on .....

A good thing with spindles is that making the tenon is an extension of the turning process .
but I digress , sorry .


Do you have a photo of the whole bench ?
 

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Divern ,
another piece of terminology for you .

What you have there are slats .
Long, thin, flat , slats .
Spindles are cylindrical .
They have been spun/turned in the making , on a lathe or in the case some Bodgers , shaved then turned then shaved then turned and so on .....

A good thing with spindles is that making the tenon is an extension of the turning process .
but I digress , sorry .


Do you have a photo of the whole bench ?
Thanks for the information. Learning a new language is always fun!

Anyway, this was taken right after I got it home. Since, I've completely disassembled it and have the seat stripped and sanded. Fortunately, all the glue used in the joints has long since given way ... after I removed the screws, the whole thing came apart with a few light taps of the mallet.

Here, I pulled the top of the seat back up a bit so I could get the "slats" out to figure out how I was going to fix them. They are/were the only thing broken on the bench.

I SHOULD be able to mortice the existing slats and add a new tenon without much difficulty, I have a good drill press and can build a jig to hold them. While I'm not terribly experienced in this avenue of woodworking, I've done enough other things that I'm confident that I can make this work. Wost case scenario is that I replace the broken slats with new wood.

 

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Bernie mentions using red oak as a replacement wood, but from the look and that this was (and will be?) an outside piece, I believe that you'll want to use quartersawn white oak rather than red oak, as it will hold up better to water and outdoor weather.

Another advantage of Steve's suggestion will be that you won't have to try to match the existing wood with new wood, the original patina will be preserved since you've only replaced wood hidden by joinery.
 

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Bernie mentions using red oak as a replacement wood, but from the look and that this was (and will be?) an outside piece, I believe that you'll want to use quartersawn white oak rather than red oak, as it will hold up better to water and outdoor weather.

Another advantage of Steve's suggestion will be that you won't have to try to match the existing wood with new wood, the original patina will be preserved since you've only replaced wood hidden by joinery.
Wanted to 2nd your recommendation.

OP: If you can can't get the QSWO, or have difficulty in matching the age/weathering that has occurred, an option might be to resaw the original pieces with the broken tenon. Plane the back side smooth and laminate a new piece of oak between the 2 to bring you back to original thickness. You could also let the center piece run long to use as your tenon. Glue scabs on the sides of the tenon if necessary. Just an alternative. Don't think the eye would catch the lamination on the edge of a couple of boards in a row of slats like they would on the face.
 

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Apologies to Steve and Mark - you so correct Steve in the procedure you have offered Mark. With the right tools and a bit of skill, that is an easy and best fix.

Mark - I'm sorry I took you for a "newbie", you obviously have skills I assumed you didn't have. That is a narrow end you need to drill into and I wrongly assumed you might have difficulty achieving the best fix Steve offered.

As for the wood species - still looks like red oak to me and the bench doesn't look like it was outside much... but if I'm wrong, yes white oak is better then red for outdoor use. Unfortunately, I know this from a couple of early builds. Pictures can tell a thousand words, but sometimes they are hard to understand...
 

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Apologies to Steve and Mark - you so correct Steve in the procedure you have offered Mark. With the right tools and a bit of skill, that is an easy and best fix.

Mark - I'm sorry I took you for a "newbie", you obviously have skills I assumed you didn't have. That is a narrow end you need to drill into and I wrongly assumed you might have difficulty achieving the best fix Steve offered.

As for the wood species - still looks like red oak to me and the bench doesn't look like it was outside much... but if I'm wrong, yes white oak is better then red for outdoor use. Unfortunately, I know this from a couple of early builds. Pictures can tell a thousand words, but sometimes they are hard to understand...
Hey, no harm, no foul. I have the tools, skill, a bit of smarts, and the tenacity to figure stuff out, I just lack the wisdom that comes with experience in doing this kind of work. My experience comes from remodeling whole houses, not individual pieces of furniture.

I tend toward the practical with a tendency to overbuild. My initial thought here was to use a stainless steel, pre-bent 3/16" x 2" hanger bolt with the lag side driven into the predrilled slat, and the machined side (double nutted) epoxied into the seat mortice.

Although a bit "hokey," it'd be strong. However, I want to keep this true to its original form so I'm going to remake them following the idea that Steve posted. Pics forthcoming.

I appreciate the replies.
 

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you can't get there without disassembling it

Based on the 2 photos posted, the spindles/slats are trapped between the seat and the back rail. The ends are inserted into mortises in both at the time of assembly, so to insert new ones in, the back rail has to come off to be true to the original.



I know of no other way to replace them. Loose tenons still project more then the space between the back rail and the seat. I had a similar issue when I restored these chairs:
http://www.woodworkingtalk.com/f9/what-chairs-these-39917/
 

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Based on the 2 photos posted, the spindles/slats are trapped between the seat and the back rail. The ends are inserted into mortises in both at the time of assembly, so to insert new ones in, the back rail has to come off to be true to the original.
Yep. With the exception of the stretcher, I was able to completely disassemble the bench. This thing had at least a half dozen coats of what looks like shellac and varnish and disassembly has made stripping and sanding MUCH easier. I'll post up some pictures tomorrow.
 

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After many years in the trade I would agree that this is quarter sawn white oak and it needs to be repaired using loose tenons if you want to preserve the original integraty of the piece.If you want to know for sure.Take a slat and clean the end up and see if you can blow thru it.The cell structure is different in red and white oak.
 
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