Saturday, 24 May 2014

Restoring Ercol Pebble Tables, a Progress report on removing Dark Finish

Since recently acquiring a set of three of the famous pebble tables in a rather sorry state I have made a start on stripping the dark finish in preparation for their revamp as "Natural Blondes". There are a few points of interest to pass on discovered whilst working on them. The first is that the top does not appear to be elm but a much lighter and harder wood. It contrasts with the three little round seatings underneath which fix the legs and with their grey colour DO appear to be elm. A test oiling of the underside of the top indicates that my normal method will result in a very light finish so I might look at other options. Whilst sanding, slightly flexing the legs of the smallest pebble revealed that two joints in the top were starting to separate and could develop into serious cracks. One was plainly open. I pondered on the glue to use initially planning on use two part epoxy, (Araldite), warmed with a hairdryer to thin the glue and aid joint penetration. In the end I settled on an experimental trial of Chair Doctor. The top was completely sanded prior to dribbling Chair Doctor along the open joints. The legs were gently flexed to assist the C-D to find its way deep into the cracks by capillary action. Whilst the glue was setting an elastic Bungee was hooked around the legs to press the joints together as the thinner the joint the stronger the finished item. The experiment is a success with joins now invisible, including the joint which had been a distinct crack. Chair Doctor claims to swell wood to tighten joints and does seem to have worked to close up the hairline crack which the top had. The middle table has a distinct gaping joint in the top and will be last to be looked at. Interestingly it sees that at some point Ercol changed the direction of the "planking" on pebble tops. On my old set the joint run perpendicular to the longest span which seems to be asking for trouble. On the largest one Ercol acknowledge this weakness by their addition of a long ovalised strengthening piece screwed to the underside. In contrast my more recent Golden Dawn large pebble has planking running the proper way

8 comments:

  1. Hello :) Please do you have any recommendations for effective / suitable stripping products for Ercol furniture? I'd like to strip my late Mums Old Colonial table that is in current daily use in the kitchen but don't want to damage it (such a shame that it's inner beauty is hidden under the original dark coating & a pvc tablecloth!!)
    Many thanks

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  2. Any non-caustic stripping product should work but it may be easier and almost as cheap to use a stripping company, ideally check out some examples of their work before sending a treasured piece. In any case be prepared for some (considerable) hand finishing work after chemical strip.

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  3. I recently bought two Quaker Ercol chairs in dark stain and decided to strip them. After lots of hours stripping using kitchen scoured and Cif cream I resorted to finish the job using a detail sander which is working well on the first chair. However I think I'll take your advice and investigate using a stripping company for the second chair and set of Old Colonial nested tables that I bought in a charity shop for £10. Thanks for your enthusiastic blogs which would have looked even better if you'd put some photos in the text.

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  4. Hello can some one help I have an Ercol breakfast small table need complete sanding and there are cracks.
    First question the cracks do I use glue?
    Second do I apply oil onto an elm top?
    Third what would be the process after sanding? Just put this oil on or wood dye or beeswax or all I can email pictures

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  5. hi, i know this breaks the norm of wanting the furniture returned to a light finish, i have a piece i would like to restore to a dark finish. Do you have any suggestion as to what colour stain would be a best match? Thanks. jo x

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  6. Hi Anthony, Are you still blogging? I haven't seen anything new for a while.

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  7. Hi Anthony, Are you still blogging? I haven't seen anything new for a while.

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  8. I have been a bit lax. I have some projects to write up and photos I should add. :-(

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