A Workshop Repair

My latest little journey took me no further than my own workshop, which is in a two-car garage over which ten years ago I built an 800-square-foot office. Inspired by Ernest Hemingway’s writing studio over a similar garage in Key West, I returned home, hired a crew to tear the roof off our garage, and spent that summer building my dream office, complete with a full bath, kitchenette, and balcony.

It was from my office a few weeks ago that I got into a bidding battle on eBay over a c.1920s Biltmore Industries hearth brush and fireplace bellows (above). But I set my limit, placed my top bid, and left it up to the other bidders whether or not the pair would return to Asheville. Fortunately for me, they did.

But the carved walnut fireplace bellows came with a split seam and separation which the seller openly disclosed. I knew I could make the repair myself, which may not have been the case for the other bidders, so I was not alarmed when I gently set it on my workbench.

Like a surgeon prepping a patient, I carefully analyzed the extent of the separation, vacuumed out any dust and dirt, and rehearsed the operation, positioning and tightening each clamp (without any glue) until I was satisfied I could draw the boards together.

I then pulled a syringe and needle from the drawer where I store them and injected glue into the open joint.

I immediately positioned each clamp in my rehearsed order and appied pressure until the excess glue oozed out of the joints. I carefully wiped off the glue with a damp cloth, then let it cure overnight in the clamps.

After removing the clamps, I preserved the wood and the original finish with an application of Minwax’s dark-tinted paste wax. I let it harden for about five to minutes minutes, then buffed up a semi-gloss sheen with a soft cloth.

Once done, I now had only one challenge:  finding space to display them.

Until next Monday,

The only person who doesn’t find anything is the one who quit looking.