Saturday, 11 June 2011

Highly Strung. Replacing Ercol Pirelli elastic rubber webbing

The natural rubber in the original webbing eventually biodegrades and sags

New webbing was ordered from . It arrived promptly and fitted perfectly.


To help fitting I made this tool out of an old bicycle spoke.

Contrary to the advice in the Skiddaw leaflet it's better to fit the short webs first as the long ones are easier to stretch. I also avoided using the silicon spray they recommend as I don't think it would be good for the life of the rubber. There is a definite knack to doing this, you need a good strong pull. I used pliers to hold the spoke/tool and as the loop pulled through the frame I used my other hand on top to lock the strap and prevent it springing back. A case of little by little. Once the loop has come through far enough (and prevented from springing back by a thumb on top of the seat frame), remove the tool before inserting the dowel.

Tadaa!!!! The finished object.

Wilson's Original Devon Wood Oil for Renovating Light Ercol Finish

Original Ercol finishes were sprayed on at the factory and this is outside the scope of amateur renovation. An alternative which can be used for the light natural finish is to use a wood oil. I have used Wilson's Devon Wood Oil on several projects around the house to seal oak veneered chipboard doors and a veneered MDF window seat. A single coat as used in the pic above produces a satin finish enhancing natural grain. My project to strip and re-finish a pair of dark colour Windsor chairs had got the first frame down to bare wood so a trial area was treated to check the finished colour on beech wood. The result is a touch paler and less yellow than the original light cloured kitchen chairs which I have but to my eye a great improvement on the worn out dark original.

There are some advantages to using oil over some form of varnish. There are no drips or brushmarks and any future wear marks can be re-treated to make an invisible restoration. The frame was given a single light coat, just enough to brush in well and cover any bare areas and was then rubbed down with a soft cotton cloth to remove any excess.

Wilson's Original Devon Wood Oil boasts that it is made from only natural ingredients including real turpentine which gives it a pleasant pine smell which disappears in time. It has recently been awarded a Royal Warrant and carries the coat of arms that says it is By Appointment to HM the Queen who no doubt uses it to polish Pholip's Wooden leg. (Here comes another superinjunction!).

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Fixing Loose Joints in Ercol Chairs, More Thoughts.

I describe using Chair Doctor Glue in my first post and over the last week I have been working my way through a pile of Quaker Windsor chair glueing loose backs etc. I have come up with a sequence which will I hope have the best chance of achieving a successful result. Leave the glue to harden fully for a day in between each section

1. Upend the chair and work on the joints where legs are fixed into the seat base and the H brace between the legs. Unless you can achieve a rock solid base there is no point in going any further

2. With the chair upside down again, glue the top of the back spindles into the arch. This sequence is favoured because it allows maximum free play with spindles able to be jiggled and twisted to maximise glue pentration into the fixing holes. When happy that the joint is well glued push spindles into the arch as hard as possible.

Note how flexing the back opens up the joint to allow glue in.

A ring of glue around each joint. When applying glue leave a gap to allow air to escape as glue seeps in.

3. Chair right way up, glue arch and spindles into seat base, when glue has penetrated, flip chair and glue where arch and wedges poke through the base. It can help if this area is roughened to soak the end grain as Chair Doctor claims to swell the wood as well as glueing the hole perimeter.

4. Everything should now be tight and twangy, if some spindle joints have failed to fix another tactic can be employed. This involves drilling the tiniest possible hole to allow the glue syringe to get into the blind socket of a joint. This is the reason that I recommend gluing the arch first as this gives it a better chance of achieving a strong joint as it is difficult to conceal a drill hole in the bow of the back. On the other hand a drill hole up through the seat base will not be noticed. If leg joints need drilling, do this from the inside to make holes hard to spot.