Friday, August 12, 2011

Special Delivery

Tim Coleman posing with his handiwork

A very special delivery was made to the Larkin district today:  Furniture craftsman Timothy Coleman delivered the components of the Martin House library and dining tables to Hulley Woodworking for finishing and eventual installation in the house. 

Selected from a talented national pool of furniture-makers through a competitive bid process, Coleman was awarded the contract to reproduce the Martin tables in April of this year.  Since then, he has dedicated the lion's share of time (and space) in his Shelburne, MA workshop to the challenge of creating exacting reproductions of the two large tables that anchor the "unit room" of the Martin House.  The precision of these reproductions begins with Coleman's choice of materials:  all the quartersawn white oak used for the tables came from the same log, ensuring an exceptional consistency of grain between them.  Even in this unfinished state, the joinery and attention to detail evident in these tables is impeccable. 

Once the table components are finished to match the millwork and built-in cabinetry in the Martin House, Coleman will return to assemble and install his masterpieces in the library and dining room.


Anonymous said...

Can you give us a synopsis of how the finishing will be done? Traditional techniques - fuming, aniline dye, shellac, wax???


EJF said...

Gus - Thanks for your question. The finishing for the tables will follow suit with the finishing of various reproduced built-in elements and trim in the house, described by our master cabinetmaker as follows:

The process follows very closely what was originally done utilizing products that are more durable and colorfast than the original. The wood is first stained to get a base of color, it is then sealed with a vinyl sealer. A glaze coat of stain is then applied over the sealer to deepen the color. Another sealer coat is applied, then a toner coat is applied. A toner coat is made up from very dilute stain suspeded in a body of thinner which is used to further adjust the color of the new work so that it matches the old. The final top coat is a low sheen Lacquer.

Simple, huh?

Anonymous said...

I would disagree with "The process follows very closely what was originally done...". The process sounds very much modern, not really traditional. 'Vinyl sealer' and 'lacquer' are treatments that are not period to the early 1900's - I assume these will be sprayed as well, not hand done. After all the coats/layers listed, I doubt there will be much grain left to see. :(

Wondering if you considered 100% original techniques, as an option? If you had original furniture with original finish, you wouldn't strip it to do what's listed here because it would totally destroy historical integrity and value. "More durable and colourfast than the original" implies that somehow what's proposed makes it better. Preservationists and traditionalists might cringe when they hear stuff like this. A period finish cared for correctly, only gets better with age.