For those of you who appreciate Heywood Wakefield furniture pieces manufactured during the period from the late 40's through the early sixties, this post is for you! I'm going to give you (for free!) my take on the proper procedure for refinishing this particular piece of furniture.
Some have said to me, hey, A Mod, why are you giving away your secrets? Isn't this counter productive to you getting jobs? Trust me, I started this process ten years ago and I don't think any of my advise will adversely effect my business as far as future clients. You won't learn all I have to share in a couple of posts and frankly, I really don't mind sharing some tips. I know there a lot of you out there that need some advise and prefer to go the DIY route. You have to start somewhere.
I love anything that has to do with mid-century modern, but for those of you who follow along, I specialize in H/W repair and refinishing. We recently took in a M197G wishbone table for refinishing (see our last post for the starting point) which I guess could be considered 'part 1'. I'm going to share with you my normal procedure for this piece.
If you have a short attention span, have little patience and time for long term projects, no space and not some basic tools and would prefer immediate gratification, I could safely say this post may not be up your alley. It may however give you a greater appreciation of what it takes for the job at hand! And you may even end up being a client if you'd like me to take care of your pieces :)
With that said. lets get started...
Here we are bottoms up. This is going to be the starting point for this or any other H/W refinish tear down. General rule of thumb...taking apart, start from the bottom. Putting back together start from the top and work back to the bottom.
I can't stress too much on the importance of labeling where each piece comes together and making sure to label all the screws and other relevent hardware for location on your piece. Tape screws together for particular applications and label them, along with making sure to mark where each piece was removed from, in whatever markings works for you to remember. I normally use either a number or letter system that is hidden under the reconstruct that will be easy to decipher when I reassemble.
I normally mark the drop leaves under the hinge points. It may seem redundant to mark each hinge, but in the sanding process, it's easy to accidentely sand off some of your original marks. Better safe than forgetful...the difference in an 1/8" in screw length can put an incorrectly placed piece of hardware right through one of your newly refinsihed tops or split another piece. Take your time and make sure it's right the first time...Same goes for piece placement...these pieces, although milled at a factory, were hand assembled by humans not machines. Screw placement was done by hand and not a computer and each piece has some variations. Put it back where you took it apart from, and it will save you a bunch of headaches reassembling!
When you have taken apart as much H/W as I have, you will find situations where you have removed all the obvious screws that seem to be holding pieces together and it still won't budge. Don't try and rip these pieces loose as there is likely something you missed. Granted, there are some pieces that have had a bit of glue applied and may need a little help breaking free (normally end table legs), but if a quick pop from a rubber mallet doesn't break it free, there's another cause. All of the wishbone tables I've encountered have a screw through the side apron to the outside pedestals. These are covered by a flush wood plug and as they are behind the butterfly support are not obvious. After you have clipped your tables "wings", remove the butterfly supports and you should be able to see where this screw is located. The easiest way to remove these plugs and other flush mount plugs found on a lot of other projects is to run a course thread drywall screw directly through the center of the plug. With a bit of luck, the screw will hit the top of the existing culprit screw and will back most, if not all of the plug out of its location. This is a lot cleaner removal than attempting to "dig" the plug out and will normally inflict a lot less damage to your piece. Even if it doesn't come out completely intact, you will have a lot easier time removing the remnants...this particular "tip" is great for all kinds of applications...
As of the the night before last, I had the tables drop leaves removed and the two outside pedestals taken off before my drill battery gave up the ghost and had to be put on the charger. I normally keep a backup charged, but after going through multiple sets of batteries, have opted to just replace one at a time as they die. It's gotten cost prohibitive and if you don't use every single day, these don't seem to hold charges as well and although I use one regularly, I can afford to wait an hour or so for charging. I was close to shutting it down for the evening anyway. Got back on it last night though...
Last pedestal removed, table aprons dismantled and marked...and we are ready to begin the fun of taking off our projects old "clothes". Here's a better pic of the steel gear mechanism for this table.
The first time I refinished this particular table, I took more completely apart at great time, expense and headache. I actually took the wishbone areas of the pedestal apart (not recommended). I've learned more than a few lessons on how far to go as to what you "really" need to tear down and still do a great job! In my humble opinion, this is as far as you need to go for disassembly for your successful refinishing.
We had some really needed rain this evening that allowed me to get this post done without feeling too guilty about not getting more accomplished. Post #3 to come soon for those interested! I think I'll title the next post something along the lines of the "bare" facts. Catchy?
As always, thanks for taking the time to take a look...