November 11, 2013

How to match the grain when staining a broken wood arm

So I am way under the weather and dying from a sorer than sore throat but I am soldiering on. I was down yesterday and I have had enough. I'm still jammified but out from under covers so this is progress. The hair is a different story....still sticking straight up as we converse... Thank God this is not a vlog huh?

Since I am not going to be working on anything today I thought I'd share something in progress and maybe help you take on a challenge in the furniture repair side of painting and restoring.
 Kind of karate chop you out of your comfort zone....

I have been working on a chair for one of my co-workers and it has been a doozy. Every time I moved it something else fell off!

Although jacked, it is an amazing chair worth saving. But this can appear daunting and I'm not gonna took me about 4 times before I finally got this right. Thank goodness for sandpaper. But it can be done with a little patience and wine. Just kidding, vodka is probably a better choice. Scratch that....CHOCOLATE for sure.

First off, gather  your supplies:
sandpaper 120 and 180 grit
wood filler in natural
matte spray sealer
dry natural bristle paint brush
Faber Castell PITT artist pens Big Brush: I used raw umber, walnut brown, dark sepia, 
and kaput mortuum

Now a word about Faber Castell pens:
I went to Home Depot to get the Minwax touch up pens but realized they did not have the variation in color that I wanted and they were $5.50 each. That's a lot to spend on something that might not match. So I headed over to my local craft store and thought I'd buy Sharpies instead. They also were not quite what I was looking for.
As I wandered up and down the aisles, I found the Faber Castell pens and realized that those would be just the thing because they had many more shades of brown and therefore I had a better chance of matching the wood base and wood grain color with these babies! 
And they were only $3.97 so a better bargain if and when I botch it up. Yes I said when because I am pretty much guaranteed at least one mess up per project.

These use Indian ink and have maximum light fastness, which just means they wont fade!

Okay so what do you do first?
Glue and clamp the broken piece together and wait until completely dry. Attach arm to chair using glue and dowels. Both dowels were cracked in half on the front arm piece so before I could attach it to the front leg I had to drill out the dowels and add new ones and then glue in place. Not hard to do, just cut off the dowel level with the wood and then use a drill bit the exact diameter of the dowel and drill into it. Add another dowel the same size and then test it for fit before gluing in place. I had cut the dowel a bit long the first time so after I dry fit the arm and measured how much I needed to remove, I just shaved the dowel as needed until the arm sat flush against the wood of the leg piece. Always cut longer....much like hair, you can always take more off but cha cain't put it back on!

Now comes the fun part. Fill in the gap with wood putty. I use my finger and smooth it in place. Once I was done with this filled in like below, I did not like how it was darker on the edges in the final product. SO after trial and error, I realized that I needed to pull the wood filler over the edges and blend it in over the good wood to make that broken lone less like a line of demarcation.  I am going to show you how I did it first the wrong way and then how I did it the second way further down. In both ways, I used the paint pens the same way. 

Sand it smooth once completely dry with 120 than 180 sand paper. Wipe clean.
See how there are close veining that looks like darker patches in the wood? Use your Walnut Brown and just color in areas to look like that. Try to match it to the spots in the good wood and follow the pattern that you see. Use your finger to tap the color into the wood filler. This kind of blends the color and pushes it into the filler.

Color in you base color to match the base wood color. I used Raw Umber for this. Tap your finger over the color again. Warning! You will have very dark fingers from this but it washes right off! unless you want to have henna looking hands in which case go with it!

Now you are going to take your darkest color, Dark Sepia and draw lines in the filler, following the wood grain from top to bottom. Go up over the edge and draw the lines into the good wood on both top and bottom. It will look more blended in the end than if  you stop right at the edge of the marred patch. Plus I think this is what gave it the darker edge when I first did this.

Last, take a dry brush, and while the lines are still fresh, brush over the lines, up and down. For some reason this made the lines look more natural and less muddied than using my finger. I did one half and then the other to make sure the lines were wet when I brushed.

IMPORTANT!!!! Once happy with the look, spray LIGHTY with your matte sealer. (attempt number three showed me this important fact...) Otherwise when you add your sealer of choice it will wipe away all of your hard work. I used a paper towel to block the wood on the other side from getting sealer on it. Then I used more paper towel to wipe of any sealer from the regular wood. You just want it to go on the repaired portion. 

So here it is when I filled in just the hole of the two pieces....

and this is when I brushed some filler onto the good wood.  Still somewhat of a line but to me, less ridges showed so it looked less like a mar and more like wood variation. 

Stained and oiled...waiting for the hemp oil to dry

Here she is from the side. Pretty cool huh?

I will tell you that at one point I walked away pretty frustrated. Once I figured out the over filling part it went pretty smoothly. It would have had to, I had already perfected the lines etc about 6 times. 
But this is doable! The walking away is what helped me to think and clear my head by not looking at the problem and feeling stuck. I make way more mistakes and cause myself a lot of extra work when I  try to persevere and keep trying to "fix" the problem already when I should be taking a break. 
But I am glad that I did take a break (it might have involved a whole candy bar or two to help clear the noodle) because in the end, I was able to figure it out and get this chair working again. This pushed me out of my comfort zone a bit as well and I was smiling in the end.

So did my karate chop work for you? 
Will you ever attempt something like this?
Does chocolate work for you as well? 

Blessing this week chopping your way out of your box.
 Please feel free to drop me a line and tell me how it is going or if you have any questions about this process.

Always being renewed,

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  1. This was totally amazing. What a great job. Makes me think that I too might be able to find a solution to a problem fix. I'm saving this post for sure for future reference. Thanks for a great lesson.

    1. Thank you so much. I hope you are able to use it very soon

  2. What an awesome old chair, so cool you could save it. Great patch job, you really can't tell.
    Hi Kim, I'm Connie at, a new GFC friend.

  3. Ooh what a great chair!! Thanks for linking up on Made in a Day!


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