I'm going to try to add to this post at least once a week with some cool little trick that I've heard about for repairing or restoring furniture.
Tips and tricks for repair and restoration of furniture.
1. Leather work
When gluing down leather or repairing leather on desktops or any other flat surface you can use a premium grade wallpaper paste. It works great and is easy to clean up with just water. Because it isn't tacky at first you can stretch and move the leather into place prior to trimming the edges. Use the backside of a razor blade knife or any other dull object such as the back of a butter knife to set the edge of the leather against the wood prior to cutting with your blade.
2. Hard to clamp workarounds.
Here's a simple trick when gluing up strange curves and hard to clamp pieces that I use in the restoration process a lot. Cover the area to be clamped in wax paper and then a layer of 1 inch thick styrofoam with a wooden caul on the outside. The styrofoam will compress over the odd shaped piece and provide a fairly even pressure. I use this process to glue on moldings on table bases or in an inlay repair where the different pieces are all at a different height in the glue up stage. Balsa wood also makes a great flexible caul or even a hot sandbag for those super hard to clamp situations.
Pictures of this can be seen in this thread here:
3. Contact cement. There is no place for contact and wood furniture ever. If you try to use contact cement to glue down veneer's and solvent based finish will soften the glue and cause the wood to bubble up. The glue will fail almost 100% of the time in the end. The only time it's ok to use contact cement is when glueing down laminates such as formica that is essence make a barrier between the glue and any finish.
4. Rust removal from metal Using molasses to remove rust from metal. Yes....I said molasses!!! And using soda ash and a batter charger.
This method will remove rust, crud, (and eventually paint) without removing the patina.
1. Mix 12 oz. of Grandma's Molasses in Warm Water in a sealable 5 to 10 gallon plastic container.
2. Submerge the piece entirely in the Solution for 1 day.
3. Remove the piece, and lightly scour with a Brillo pad, (not SOS,)
4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 until all the rust or tarnish has been removed.
Soda Ash and Battery Charger Method
(NOTE: THIS METHOD PRODUCES HYDROGEN.
CONDUCT ONLY IN A WELL VENTILATED AREA AND AWAY FROM SPARK OR FLAME)
This method will remove rust, crud, and paint without removing the patina.
1. Mix 1/4 cup of Soda Ash (Sodium Carbonate, NOT Sodium Bi-Carbonate) in 5 gallons of Warm Water in a plastic container.
2. Connect the positive (red,) lead clamp of a 12 volt battery charger to an Anode, (a piece of rebar or plain iron,) and submerge the Anode (not the clamp,) in the soda ash water solution along the side of the plastic container.
3. Connect the negative (black,) lead of the 12 volt battery charger to the rusted piece.
4. Submerge the rusted metal *entirely in the Solution for **1 day, making sure it does not touch the Anode and short the circuit.
5. Turn on the battery charger and set to 5 to 10 amps charge for 24 hours
6. Remove the metal after 24 hours, and lightly scour with a Brillo pad, (not SOS.)
7. Repeat steps 4 through 7 until the metal is cleaned and suitable for finishing.
Clearly any time you're using electricity around water you need to take as many precautions as possible so use this at your own risk but it does work well.
5. Back sandpaper with duct tape. This one comes from a friend at a restoration site. Cover the backside of your sheet of sandpaper with duct tape and you'll be amazed at how flexible and durable it becomes. It's great for sanding any turnings or carved areas.