Our White Patriotic Jumper had repairs to be made on the tail,
the tail-to-leg connection, all four legs, and his belly.
When these repairs were completed, we could treat surface repairs and finish.
The White Patriotic Jumper is a sample treatment,
so our client, Restore Oregon,
can see the process from start to finish!
A PROCESS STATEMENT
REGARDING ALL KNEE JOINTS
We will show images at the bottom,
after the written description which applies to all knee joints.
All four knee joints on the Patriotic Jumper are crafted as face butted, scarf joints.
The knee to thigh components are secured with two large wooden pins bisecting the joint’s walls. Hide glue originally kept the join surfaces tights and minimized flex.
Prior improper repairs (which we surmise were intended as temporary) over
Patriotic Jumper’s entire life, ultimately caused greater damage.
The worst were multiple nailings which bisected the joints,
probably in hopes of stabilizing the ever increasing loosening at the knees.
The joinery’s join lines have shrunk along their shoulder butts
(where the knee portion fits along the thigh line). In some cases
degradation of paint allowed moisture to erode and shrink the joinery element.
At some point, an attempt to camouflage the widening gaps between the joinery shoulders was performed by troweling composite into the voids. The introduction of these materials were purely cosmetic and did nothing to rectify the structural problems. In fact, the introduction of some of these composites interacted with previous fills, especially those filling materials which contained grit. Theses continually sifted into the worn wood, increasing gaps, tattering substrate and contributed to further loosening of the joints.
MPFC’s task relative to the leg joinery, was to rectify the looseness of the joinery without damaging the historic joint in the process.
The buried nails were a daunting problem!
When we considered disassembling the joint and recognized
each connection contained at least four 12 penny countersunk finish construction nails,
we began to look for alternatives to taking an invasive approach (disassembly)
because of the inevitable destruction to invasive approaches of the repairs,
especially as it related to extraction of the buried nails.
The process of removing these nails in order to gain access to the joint would certainly break and splinter elements of the joint through the process of prying and leveraging,
and probably would create large gouges in the joint walls and exterior surfaces.
So, what to do?
As in all balanced paths we settled upon the middle one:
we opted not to disassemble the joinery with all the risks to the elements which would occur through the extraction process. We favored traditional, common sense woodworking repairs which amended the losses along the joinery shoulders and corrected the instability
and the ongoing flex of the joint. Our first task was to remove the accreted rubble
clogging the voids adjacent to the sifted joint shoulders. How to do this without causing more damage and enlarging the already expansive voids?
Thank goodness for Japanese saw blades! Their precise teeth and thin blades allow
for fast and precise cuts. Note the steel which comprises the tooth edge on these
expensive blades is generally quite brittle, which translates as broken teeth if one
hits nails or hardened rubble. We lost several expensive blades withing
a few strokes due to undetected nails (see outside back front leg below).
I knew the hazards before I started and had made my peace
with the destruction of the tool in favor of the results in precision.
The shoulders were cleaned and the kerf lines established.
We created the splines and veneers from tulip poplar (same wood species as the original components) which I cut on the band saw. Because each void was slightly different in girth, even though my saw blade was precise, not one size of spline would fit all voids.
I needed to create multiple widths of splines in order to achieve a proper fit
(which can be saved and used on other carousel horse applications).
After cutting the amending splines in multiple thickness I customized the widths to fit the disparate joint shoulders by trimming them. Occasionally more than one spline per joint line was glued to modify due to diminishing shoulders on the joint.
This was done strategically using leverage within the shims by tapping the wood between two layers in order to create tension in the absence of the availability to clamp. Ultimately, each shoulder line returned to a tight fit through the simple introduction of leverage.
Finally, I mixed a “hybrid” glue which has bulking qualities, flexibility
and excellent sheer strength along with the potential of reversibility if
one wants to dissolve the bond and introduce further repairs in future.
Note: One does not want to rely upon glue to replace structure!
Glues of all types are notoriously poor relative to maintaining strength
when one attempts to use them in place of proper woodworking solutions.
I made certain the voids between joinery surfaces were filled with wooden splines
with little tolerance between joining surfaces so that the glue would simply act as the ‘tacking’ medium, rather than adding structure. To that end, I brushed all fresh and historic surfaces with thin layers of our customized glue then installed
the fresh splines and veneers. After waiting 24 hours the splines were trimmed to
historic surfaces, shaped, then made ready for gesso and paint.
Having described the process, above, we will show each leg, below.
ROMANCE FRONT LEG
OUTSIDE BACK FRONT LEG
OUTSIDE BACK REAR LEG
This join was discussed under the Tail Reparation:
image below after priming with gesso and before tail was attached.
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Written by Kate Powell ©MPF Conservation.
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