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Our shop and showroom at 20 John Williams Street in Attleboro, MA, closed on January 1, 2020. We will NO LONGER be building custom furniture going forward. Thank you all for supporting our business for the past 46+ years! It has been a joy restoring your antique furniture and creating art furniture from reclaimed antique materials for you and your families. We hope that our life’s work of restoring, salvaging, reclaiming, recreating and creating has brought a smile to you, your families and future generations.
We have stored many boxes and shelves full of antique treasures of all kinds, most of which was purchased in the 1970’s and 1980’s when we were located in Norton, MA. We now have time to unpack those treasures and opened an eBay store in February 2020 called “Pinnacle Pickers”, with an average of 650+ antique pieces for sale! Check it out at http://www.ebay.com/str/pinnaclepickers.
 
We are posting daily so you just might find a unique antique item for gift giving or to add to your collection! If you or someone you know has antique items they want to sell, please contact Steve via email. Steve is interested in small antique hand tools, furniture hardware (drawer pulls, hinges etc.), barn hardware (strap hinges, barn door rolling hardware), early paper items, photos, Vintage items, etc. It is very helpful if you could email pictures of what you have to sell and Steve will get back to you as soon as he can. We are no longer buying furniture.
The best way to contact us is email at info@creativeartfurniture.com We wish you all good health and joy every day of your lives.
Sincerely,
Chris and Steve Staples

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Tips On Finishing Furniture

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By Stephen C. Staples

So you’ve acquired a great old piece of furniture and have just the spot for it in your home.  Now you’d like to restore it to its original beauty and usefulness.  Below are some tips on turning that old piece into a beautiful useful piece.

First confirm that you are not removing the patina from an expensive antique. What you don’t want is to take a $1,000 table and refinish into a $100 table.

Important:  Before you begin always read and understand instructions on all labels of the chemicals and solvents you are using and always work in a well-ventilated area.  The fumes can cause dizziness or death if not used in a properly ventilated space.  Also, your local hardware specialist can serve as a great source of information with this project, it’s steps and material needed.

  1. Wash vs. Strip:  Decide whether the old finish should come off or if a thorough cleaning will do.  Perhaps a rejuvenating coat of varnish will bring it back to its original luster.  If cleaning an unpainted piece, hand cleaner containing pumice used with a toothbrush to get into crevices works well.  After cleaning you will know better what you are working with. 

In many instances you can save a lot of work by just refinishing parts of the piece i.e. the drawer front and top of a table or bureau or maybe just the arms and seat of a chair and then rejuvenating the rest of the piece. 

  1. Strip/Paint Remover:  Always, use rubber gloves and a mask when using stripper. Use lots of remover and do not brush back and forth.  Put on a thick layer of stripper with one stroke.  The stripper will form a skin, as like pudding, place plastic trash bags or newspaper on top of the stripper to help keep the stripper from drying out.  Always position the piece so you are working on a horizontal surface, this also keeps you from doing too much at one time.  Place a piece of masking tape over the backside of the key and knob holes so the stripper doesn’t spatter the back of the drawer.    

Don’t remove any stripper until you can rub with one finger (without scraping) down to bare wood.  If the piece has a carving, plan to leave the stripper on those areas longer. 

  1. Removing the Stripper: Periodically, peek under the plastic to determine how quickly the stripper is working. You may need to flow on additional stripper if it the finish is thick.  When the finish is soft, scrape it off with an expired credit card or a putty knife, but a credit card is less likely to damage the wood.
  1. Wash:  When the stripper has softened the finish, scrape off as much as possible, so you can wash down the piece with the appropriate solvent or water.  It is very important to read the container to determine appropriate washing liquid.  Scrub with a stiff brush with course wood chips, hamster bedding from the pet store will work just fine!  This will clean and dry the piece around spindles and carvings.  If the piece you are stripping is veneered, be careful when using water as to not lift the veneer.  When refinishing, it is more desirable to make every effort to bring forth the original surface and not produce a new one. 

 

  1. Sand/Sandpaper:  As a novice, the finer the sandpaper you use, the longer it will take to make a mistake.  To remove light scratches, which is all you should do, use fine grit sandpaper.  120 C open coat aluminum oxide will do nicely.  To remove any stripper residue and set the wood up to accept a finish, 220 open coat aluminum oxide is good.  To sand various shapes and moldings on your piece you can use old felt.  Shape it and cover it with sandpaper.  (Important information on sandpaper: The 120 refers to the grit size. The lower the number, the coarser the paper.).
  1. Stain:  Your best bet is to purchase the leading brand of pigmented wiping stain, which are color fast, direct-to-wood stains formulated to develop and highlight the grain of all wood species.  They can be cross-mixed to achieve different tones i.e. adding mahogany to walnut for a reddish brown color or ebony to walnut for a deep dark brown.  Brush the stain on, leave it for a moment and wipe it dry.  Make sure to use rubber gloves and a mask during the staining process as well.

Remember to place all used rags in an approved airtight container.  DO NOT leave them on the bench all bunched up, as spontaneous combustion will cause them to burst into flames!  If you do not have a container, lay the rags out flat to dry, preferably outside.  Any rags containing solvents are extremely dangerous.

  1. Finish:  Now your piece is ready for the finish.  To keep it simple the best method is a wipe on finish.  There are even wipe on polyurethane finishes for optimal protection.  Just put the finish on with a soft cloth keeping it wet until it doesn’t seem to want to absorb any more finish, then wipe it dry.  Wait 24 hours and then give the piece a light sanding with 320 sandpaper and apply the finish again.  You can do this as many times as you wish, but three or four coats should suffice.  Start out with a gloss finish and the last coat should be a semi gloss.  Your piece is now ready for that special spot in your home.

Wooden It Be Lovely:

Tips on Wood and Identifying Quality Antique Furniture

By Steve Staples
 
Owner and Master Wood Craftsman
Staples Cabinet Makers

Whether you’re shopping for antique furniture to suit your home décor, because you collect antiques or as an investment, it helps to know what to look for in a piece to determine its quality and value. These tips will help you understand a little better what the pros look at when they judge a piece of antique furniture.

1. LUMBER AND HARDWARE - How to Tell the Age of Wood

The ability to discern the age of a piece of wood can help determine the age and value of a piece of furniture for one’s home.  Following are some elements to look for that will help you better judge the age of a piece of wood.

Saw Marks or Kerf Marks

Pit Saw
The marks left by this saw were irregular, uneven cuts made from strokes of the large saw used by two men. One man stood in a pit and the other man stood on top of the log above the pit sawing the log between them. The men changing hand and body positions caused the irregular cuts.

Gash Saw
This saw, which dates back to the Pilgrim days – mid-1600’s, was water powered with multiple up and down multiple, leaving marks that are regular and parallel.  It was large, cumbersome and often far away from the house lot, therefore it was easier to use the pit saw rather than haul the logs to the mill and then haul the sawn lumber home.

Circular Saw
This saw, invented by a Shaker woman named Sister Tabitha Babbit in 1813, but was not in general use until 1840 when steam engines came along.  The marks were circular, so it is a pretty sure bet that if you see circular saw marks, you know the board was sawn some time after 1860.

Nails

Hand Forged Nails before 1800
Were tapered on four sides and pointed.  The head of the nail was pined with 4 to 5 hammer blows into a flower petal shape, hence the name “rose head nail”.

1791 Cut Nails
Were sheared or cut from thin plates of metal.  Twenty-five cut nails could be made in the same amount of time as one hand forged nail.

1900 Nails
Were made of wire like they are today.

Wood Screws

Wood Screws 1720
This was the earliest that wood screws were used.  They were rarely greater than ½” long and had hand-cut threads and an off-centered slot cut on the face.  The end of the screw was flat.  Due to the shortness of these screws, they usually only appear as hinge screws on drop leaf tables.  These handmade screws are individual in the pitch and size of the threads.  If they ever must be removed, be sure to replace them back into the hole whence they came, each having their own unique screw hole.

Wood Screws 1860
Screws go from square end to pointed with a mechanically cut slot in the center.

2.  OVERALL QUALITY OF THE WOOD - How to Determine the Quality When Buying a Piece of Old “Antique” Furniture

Not all reclaimed wood is the same.  One should be very familiar with the varying factors that deal with the woods quality and worth.

Sight the Wood
When considering buying an old door or old board, step back and sight the piece – “roll your eye down the board” - meaning look down the edge to check if it is twisted or cupped.  If it is, do not buy this piece.

Quality
Look for dry-rot.
 Dry rot is wood that is soft and punky from getting wet and drying too many times.  Insects are an issue; quite often Powder Post Beetles leave piles of sawdust called frass.  They can be exterminated by putting the piece in an oven until the wood reaches a core temperature of 135 degrees for 30 minutes or the boards can be chemically treated.

Room to Move
Wood must be allowed to move so check to make sure the panels of furniture can still move and tops are secured in a way that they can expand and contract with the seasons or they will crack. Very often, during deconstruction, mishandling a board can cause it to split so much that it doesn’t warrant gluing. 

Clean It to See Tones
The first thing one should do after buying reclaimed wood is to wash and disinfect it.  While the wood is wet, one can see whether it will have light or dark tones.  A good way to get a final idea of the natural tones is to coat the piece with a diluted coat of shellac, known as a spit coat.

Learn about Patinas
 As wood ages, it will turn various shades of brown to black depending on how much the wood was exposed to air and light.  Some of my most beautiful tables have been where the back (bottom) side of the floor boards was once the ceiling of the room below where the air was complemented with the smoke from the fireplace.  The color is rich and dark and runs deeply into the wood.  In this case, it’s bottoms up for these boards.  The painted surface on the floor above is scrapped and used as the underside of the table top. 
KNOWING YOUR WOODS

Specific woods were used for their strength and durability.  Below is a listing of common types of wood used in furniture making, their characteristics, and typical uses:

Wood

Description

Maple

Commonly used in furniture making because of its hardness, but not often found in old buildings except perhaps for flooring in mill buildings and stair treads in early homes

Poplar

A medium hardwood that is often found in furniture and sometimes used as wainscoting in homes.  Very often poplar wood will have a natural dark green color.

Cherry

A hardwood that was revered as a furniture wood and was too expensive for use in buildings. 

White pine

A soft wood and very prolific in New England, therefore, it was widely used. 

Longleaf Yellow Pine

Also known as heart pine, is a very dense, hard pine often used for factory beams.  These beams are now re-sawn for furniture and flooring.

American Sweet Chestnut

A strong, beautiful wood that grew to huge proportions in the eastern forests.  It was used to build much of colonial America and can be found today in old barns that were framed in chestnut.  Unfortunately, in 1904, a Japanese freighter brought in a blight that wiped out every chestnut tree within a few years.  After the trees died, they were inhabited by wood borers leaving holes, hence the name “wormy chestnut”.  Trees sawn into lumber after the blight will have the worm holes cut on a cross section which is a giveaway that the trees were dead when cut.  This is another clue to establish the age of a building or furniture.   American Sweet Chestnut is considered an extinct wood.

UNDERSTANDING HOW WOOD IS MEASURED

There are different way people selling wood measure it. A buyer needs to have a complete understanding of these measuring terms so that they know exactly how much wood they’re actually buying:

Measurement

Description

Board Foot

The method used when measuring lumber by taking the width in inches x thickness in inches x length in inches divided by 144.

Linear Foot

Often used when selling molding or other machined millwork.  The wood has a dollar value per foot no matter what the width or thickness.

Square Foot

Used when the thickness of the wood is irrelevant.

3.  KEY FEATURES OF RECLAIMED WOOD - Knowing Features of Varying Types of Reclaimed Wood

There are many variations within a species of reclaimed wood and each one carries a different price tag. It would be a difficult task indeed to put a dollar value on reclaimed material.  Below is a scaled value the different material from 1 to 10, 1 being the least desirable and 10 being the most desirable.  The dollar value of reclaimed wood, like any other product, depends on supply and demand in the marketplace:

Wood

Rating

Description

Wide Pine

10

Pine that runs in the 20” wide range.

Well-Walked Pine

10

Smooth, worn boards from foot traffic leaving the hard knots slightly raised because they are not as easily worn.

Grainery Pine

8

Pine that comes from grain old bins worn smooth by the constant rubbing of the grain.  The wood also has a talc-y feel from the grain.

Unpainted Pine

8

Floors that have been spared painting for 250 years.

Dutch Pine

8

Comes from the Pennsylvania Dutch area. Dutch Pine flooring is usually a strong 1/14” thick.

Attic Pine

8

Most often not nailed down therefore there are no nail holes in the boards.

Hemlock

7

Used as flooring and thick barn floors.  Hemlock has a nice patina.

Painted Pine

5

Floors that have been painted once to several times.

Wall Board Pine

3

Nailed to the beams making the walls of a room.  Often time wooden laths were nailed on the wallboards and plaster was added leaving stripes on the board as the plaster would bleach the wood.

Nailed-Over Pine

2

Another floor or two would be nailed over the original floor leaving lots of nail holes.

Fir

2

Beams and later bead board was usually made from fir.

Sub-Flooring Pine

1

Thin boards that were put down before the main floor.  Sub-flooring pine is too thin for tabletops but can be used for backs of cupboards.

Spruce

1

Often used as beams or thick barn flooring.  Spruce does not patina well and after planning is very white.

Roofers Pine

1

Full of nails from shingles.

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  • Written by Brian
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Our shop and showroom at 20 John Williams Street in Attleboro, MA, closed on January 1, 2020. We will NO LONGER be building custom furniture going forward. Thank you all for supporting our business for the past 46+ years! It has been a joy restoring your antique furniture and creating art furniture from reclaimed antique materials for you and your families. We hope that our life’s work of restoring, salvaging, reclaiming, recreating and creating has brought a smile to you, your families and future generations.

We have stored many boxes and shelves full of antique treasures of all kinds, most of which was purchased in the 1970’s and 1980’s when we were located in Norton, MA. We now have time to unpack those treasures and opened an eBay store in February 2020 called “Pinnacle Pickers”, with an average of 650+ antique pieces for sale! Check it out at http://www.ebay.com/str/pinnaclepickers.

We are posting daily so you just might find a unique antique item for gift giving or to add to your collection! If you or someone you know has antique items they want to sell, please contact Steve via email. Steve is interested in small antique hand tools, furniture hardware (drawer pulls, hinges etc.), barn hardware (strap hinges, barn door rolling hardware), early paper items, photos, Vintage items, etc. It is very helpful if you could email pictures of what you have to sell and Steve will get back to you as soon as he can. We are no longer buying furniture.
The best way to contact us is email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. We wish you all good health and joy every day of your lives.

Sincerely,

Chris and Steve Staples

The Wood, the Source, The Finish

  • Written by Brian
  • Category: MyBlog
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Staples Logo

The Wood

Old growth lumber is among the finest wood available to craftsmen and artisans. The enormous canopies of foliage of old growth forests allow the trees to grow very slowly over centuries. Slow growth produces tight growth rings and results in dense, heavy, strong and extraordinarily beautiful wood grains. The protection of old growth trees and forests in the United States means that this kind of wood is very difficult – if  not impossible – to find commercially. For example, the pine that one might find at the local lumberyard is harvested from much younger trees and hasn’t had the advantages that come from hundreds of years of slow growth. Today’s commercially available pine is much softer and lighter than dense old growth pine.

Staples Cabinet Makers reclaims lumber from razed homes, barns and mills throughout New England. These structures were originally constructed from old growth lumber in the 18th and 19th centuries. This magnificently aged wood develops a rich patina that cannot be recreated artificially, and Stephen Staples preserves its beauty in each table or cabinet he creates.

The Source of the Wood

People continually ask Stephen Staples were he finds the wood and other accessories he uses in his work. His reply is that, more often than not, the material actually finds him.  He says, "It is interesting how the universe has a way of sending things along to those who will most care for them. We are all just caretakers of our possessions for a period of time.  With our heirlooms, we lovingly leave them to our heirs or an institution that we know will treasure them.  With most reclaimed building artifacts, however, we stay just ahead of the wrecking ball and ultimately a pulverizer that turns an entire house to pulp in just a few minutes. It's a sad sight indeed to watch a magnificent dwelling turned to rubble.  I will continue to strive to save and repurpose these materials as long as I am able."

The Finish

The finishing techniques that Stephen Staples employs have been used by shipbuilders for centuries. Staples Cabinet Makers tabletops are finished with multiple coats of a specialized blend that includes marine spar varnish and boiled linseed oil.  Each coat penetrates the wood producing an embedded luster and depth that cannot be achieved with any other method. Stephen developed his finishing blend to enhance the aged colors, patinas, tones and character of the wood grain. Stephen often says that “time is the greatest craftsman,” and his pieces preserve what history has already accomplished.

Stephen is fascinated by and understands the importance of "texture" in his work. It is a concept introduced to him by a sculptor friend, and one that he continues to study and explore. Stephen applies these sculpting principles and techniques, and years of study and practice of hand finishing to all of the furniture he produces. He understands that the finest creation can be destroyed by an inadequate finish, and his methods add a rich dimension to an already much-admired vision and sense of style.

Finish Maintenance

Marine varnish is flexible and can be easily maintained and rejuvenated with additional coats.  Stephen advises owners to, once a year, wash their tables with paint thinner or mineral spirits to remove any grease and dirt, and recoat the tabletop with a blend of 35% marine spar varnish and 65% mineral spirits. After applying a liberal coat, let set for 2 minutes and then use a clean soft cloth to wipe off the excess leaving a thin film of the varnish.

About Us

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Chris Staples and Stephen Staples

 

 

The Staples' and Wabi Sabi

Every since Stephen Staples was a young boy, he admired and treasured antiques of all kinds.  He was intrigued by the history of antique wood and artifacts and how the early settlers felled the virgin timbers of New England to build their homesteads and handmade their tools, furniture and whatever else they needed to work on the farm.

In reference to the unique furniture art that Stephen creates, Wabi Sabi means "the reverence for the imperfect" as he presents the time worn surface of the materials he works with.  Wabi Sabi comes from the ancient Japanese culture and is not easy to describe as there are many meanings.  "Wabi" connotes rustic simplicity, freshness or quietness and can be applied to natural and human-made objects, or understated elegance.  "Sabi" is beauty or serenity that comes with age, when the life of the object and its impermanence are evidenced in its patina and wear, or in any visible repairs.

Ever since Christine and Stephen opened their business in 1973, they built their business around restoring antique furniture, repurposing and reclaiming historical materials to create functional furniture and home accessories to give them a new life for any style home.  Their works of art are modern day heirlooms that will be passed down to future generations and become tomorrow's antiques.

All these years, Christine and Stephen have been true to the ancient Japanese "Wabi Sabi" philosophy.  Not until recent years did they learn about "Wabi Sabi" and realize that their lifelong work had a name.

circa 1983

 

circa 1999

 

circa 2007

 

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