Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Bonding With A Find

Photo courtesy Flickr

I scavenged a couple of Sixties drafting stools from a Broadway junk hauler who refused to let me pay him for several hundred dollars worth of irreplaceable vintage steel gear. He knew what he had, too. The pair has Boeing surplus written all over it, which is to say they are the product of the height of the American imperium, when continental resources were abundant and gas cost five cents a gallon on a day when the dealers were quarreling. Each stool represents an opportunity for the very best kind of furniture restoration: just wash it.

The finds show legitimate wear and tear that will drop into my inventory without a ripple. I set out the secret weapon of Absolutely Perfect Housekeeping (Peg Bracken’s term), not-cheap German chrome polish from the motorcycle shop. The other secret weapon is 0000 steel wool. Nitrile gloves, a shop apron, and t-shirt and synthetic wipers for final polishing round out the kit.

No one I know can dedicate a block of time to detailing an old stool, even at this level of involvement. It’s trivial, though, once the mise en place is assembled, to use the odd moment lightly to abrade a rusty scratch or groady join and then later burnish filmy paint with the chrome polish that has not failed to resurrect any of the artifacts I’ve tried it on. Working in spare moments does not tax seldom-used muscles and guarantees a light touch. Test for snags with a bit of silk or nylon knit, so that anyone can use either of the stools for any purpose. A coat of artist’s wax medium will forestall new rust in old scratches.

The stool with a back will get new magical sliding castors. The other will stay as is for stability.


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