Friday, May 14, 2010

Bespoke Iron Garden Furniture

What exactly do we mean by bespoke iron garden furniture. If you are from England, India or any other former British colony, I�m sure you already know. But if you are English speaking from the Americas or Australia, you probably do not what bespoke means. The word bespoke is British for custom designed or commissioned work. So, bespoke iron garden furniture is custom designed iron garden furniture.

Wrought iron means 'worked iron' and wrought iron is the product of a blacksmith's hard work. Heating the raw metal bars until they reach a malleable temperature and then hammering the white-hot iron on an anvil or forge is the traditional method of producing it. This process makes the iron flexible so that it can take on graceful curves. Heating to such a high temperature removes the carbon and other impurities from the raw metal. Removing impurities makes the iron much stronger so it will last longer.

Since it is so labor intensive and require kiln that can reach and sustain high temperatures, creating bespoke iron garden furniture is a relatively expensive process. While true wrought iron ornaments are available, it is rare for large items of garden furniture to be wrought in this manner.

The word iron comes from the Scandinavian word iarn and has been used since prehistoric times. Because it is harder than bronze, iron was an extremely valuable material. The Iron Age came after the Bronze Age. Blacksmiths still work in the ancient tradition, though most of them now use mild hot or cold rolled steel to build their bespoke iron garden furniture.

Since both iron and steel are subject to rusting, after it has been made into the desired object, the metal must next be polished to perfect smoothness. Sometimes, the metal is put in a chemical bath to remove any oil that may have gotten on it. Then it is primed with a rust inhibiting primer. Finally is it painted, usually flat black. However, I have seen several garden benches and a few fences that were a very attractive deep hunter green.

Bespoke iron garden furniture gates and fence post are frequently toped with ornate scrollwork or the traditional points and most benches have wooden slates added to the seats and backs for comfort.

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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Saw Marks On The Back Of Antique Furniture

Saw marks on the back of antique furniture are a common thing. In fact, they are useful in providing one of the easiest methods for actually dating the antique furniture piece. Although the circular saw was invented around 1800, the circular saw did not come into wide spread usage until after 1830. Therefore, boards that exhibit circular saw marks were most likely cut after 1830.

Prior to that time ripsaws were used to cut boards and frequently the antique furniture built prior to 1830 will display small almost parallel saw marks on the back headboards, cabinet backs, drawer bottoms and other of unfinished areas of the piece.

Prior to the mid 19th century, all lumber was worked by hand. The logs were cut in the proper lengths by axe or hand-sawing. Next the logs were cut lengthwise in two or more board strips usually with a two-man hand ripsaw. Then the cabinet makers dressed their boards with a jack plane and draw knives. As a result of this hand tooling, many unfinished non-visible surfaces like backboards and drawer bottoms will show evidence of "hand-planing" which means that there will be subtle undulating rows in the wood because it is almost impossible even for a master craftsman to get a uniformly smooth flat surface working with hand tools.

Obviously saw marks on the back of antique furniture are an important piece in determining the age of the antique furniture. But they are not the only indication of age. Other construction methods also provide fairly accurate dating.

Wooden dowels can reveal the approximate time of construction. This is important in pieces that have no unfinished surface such as dining room chairs. You can use wood dowels as another helpful method for authenticating a piece of furniture�s age. Machine dowel pins will be perfectly circular and fit flush to the surface of the piece. Hand made dowel pins are non-round and will protrude slightly from the surface of the pieces because of shrinkage over time in the wood they are securing and swelling in the dowel as well.

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