Friday, January 11, 2008

The Family Heirloom

I do furniture restoration and often times I have to create a piece of furniture out of a pile of crap that chickens have been roosting on and suddenly folks want this hunk of firewood in their home... where they eat. *gah* You know why? I'll tell you why, it's 'cause it's a rare family heirloom. It's true.

You would think that a family heirloom would be a wonderful something or another that great great granddad Ezekiel built from what was left over from the arrow ridden covered wagon after fighting Indians for 7 days out on the plains. Or maybe a cherished rocker that has been lovingly watched over for a 150 years by members of the family. Or even a whatsit that your mother got at an auction the first year her and your dad were married and though it wasn't much, she loved it her whole life. Well, you'd be correct. But there's another kind of heirloom.

Here's the scenario as I've seen it played out countless times, being in this business.

1963: Mom gets a brand new space age, chrome and red vinyl kitchenette dining set and promptly hauls the 3rd handed, nailed together and wired together table and chair set out to the smokehouse and literally hurls it all in the back corner with hatred. Every dress she owns has been snagged and torn nearly every time she sits down in one of the chairs. She hates it, but your Dad won't let her burn it. You are 5 years old and your biggest concern in life is "candy".

1969: The smokehouse is converted into a hen house because your Mom is tired of storebought eggs. The table and chairs are left in the "smokehouse", now new chicken house.

1985: Mom and Dad move to town but still have the farmhouse for when the kids come home and picnics and such.

1986: A storm comes through and blows the old maple tree down... right on the smokehouse/hen house... flattening it completely

2006: Mom and Dad are both gone now and you and your brother go out to the old farm and there's that old kitchen table and chair set just lying in the weather, half covered by the smashed chicken house, turning into a big ol pile of crap. You look at your brother and with teary eyes say. "Oh remember how much Mom loved that set that her and Daddy set up housekeeping with? We should take them to that furniture guy and get them "restored"."

VOILA! Heirloom. Just like that. Ba Da Bing.

I'm serious, I've seen this more dang times than I can count. Not word for word, but so close to the same events that it's predictable.

Let me show you an example. This cabinet (and I use that term loosely) came to me in this EXACT condition that you see.

I'm serious. That's it. If it were mine, I'd have burned it without a second thought. One side missing, bottom doors missing. Upper doors tore all to smithereens by trolls, no doubt. Some quite lovely brass grate jabbed in the doors. *gag* Bottom of the legs rotten, ever single glue joint completely trashed and glueless, and a partridge in a pear tree.

But it's an heirloom... and I'm the furniture guy.


Here's the non existent right side, now existing and re-invented thru the miracle of modern medicine and beer.

And after a lot of fabrication, all new doors built with glass in the uppers, a new side, a bottom, some shelves, rotten legs sawn off. All tinted and stained to look like wonderful aged cherry... and VOILA!

Momma/Daddy's favorite cabinet!

Some days I get to work on real furniture.



Vicky said...

Man, that's a beautiful piece. Not the before pictures - the after one!! I would love to have a house full of furniture like that! You rock, dude! (applause!!)

Kim said...

Very nice, Cowdude! Gee, I have some heirloom wooden pallets in the garage and a bit of sentimental plywood--dad just LOVED that plywood, but he's gone now, and I really think it's just about "vintage." Think you can do anything with it? What I really NEED is a cabinet to set up next to my sewing table to hold my quilt batting in the bottom and a pull out thingy to cut on. I think my son was going to make me one for my birthday last summer--or maybe it was last Mother's Day. I still have the hand made card that says to expect something soon, but you guessed it--I'm still waiting. Well, at least I have that card--which will, I'm sure, become a family heirloom in its time--probably LOOOONG before I get that cabinet too!

Anonymous said...

Nice work ! Maybe one of these would help you out ,when you need to know how long that baby took to become a beautiful piece of furniture .

Anonymous said...



eve in ga said...

Dang, Connie beat me to the 'dibbies'! You are the 'miracle-man' for sure! It's now a beautiful piece of furniture, and I agree with Vicky that I'd love to have a house full of pieces like that. Eve

Mar said...

How I would love to have that piece of *crap*. Beautiful job!

The Daughter said...

Remember that one table that got dumped off in the driveway in a heap?
I know those jobs suck for you, but wow. You's got some redneck magic!

Jerry said...

Now that's what I call "Webberized". You've scored again, for sure. :)