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Messages - crammage

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General Discussion / Re: Beaver pelts
« on: February 19, 2013, 09:35:49 AM »
I had customer bring me two bins of old fur coats that she wanted made into pillows and a bench.  They were a mix of mink, beaver, rabbit and even a bobcat hide.  The biggest challenge was dealing with the hides that were dried out because they get brittle and rip. 
I actually used my domestic machine to sew them using a small zigzag stitch.  A straight stitch had a tendency to cut the hide.  They are thing compared to working with cow hide leather.  At least the lot that was used in these coats.  On some of them I actually used a linen backing that I glued on because I was afraid the hide would tear.  Used hide glue to adhead the linen to the back of the hide.  Seemed to work ok.

That's my experience.  It was fun in that I got to work with something I normally don't and to be creative since she let me do whatever I wanted as far as patching them together for pillows and the bench.


General Discussion / Re: Hand Pain
« on: January 30, 2013, 03:52:44 PM »
I seem to have more pain and soreness in my right wrist than anywhere else.  My monthly visits to the Chiropractor help with keeping it limber.  It's amazing how a few taps of that funny clicking thing that hit your bones with helps.

My wife was developing arthritis in her fingers a few years ago and the Chiro showed her some techniques to keep her fingers limber and it has really worked.  My wife says she can move her fingers better now than any time in the last 20 years. 

Being a piano player for most of my life my fingers tend to be much stronger than is expected in a little guy (5'7" 140 lbs) and I think it helps them from getting as sore.


General Discussion / Re: Rent, own or work at home
« on: January 08, 2013, 01:37:41 PM »
I've been working from home for both my jobs (Financial Analyst - pays the bills, Upholstery - fun money  ;D)  from home for the last three years.  It does take some discipline to do it but I'm extremely driven by deadlines.  I always give myself deadlines in both jobs that keeps me motivated to work and not play during the designated hours (1st job 7am -5pm, second job - whenever needed).  The hard part for me is not mixing the two.  Obviously I have people call about upholstery needs during the day when I'm working my other job, but I take the calls anyway.  My employer is aware of my situation and actually very supportive.  As long as I get my job done they don't really care about how many or how few hours I put in, just give them what they want when they want it and they have a big smile on their face. 

When I'm really crunched for upholstery work and under tight deadlines I will work my "lunch hour" on furniture related stuff. 

I have another rule, I don't work either job on Sunday.  We go to church, take our daughter out for lunch, drop her off back at the dorm and then go do whatever us empty nest couples do on a Sunday afternoon. 


General Discussion / Re: Handy work table
« on: December 13, 2012, 11:27:22 AM »
Lots of air freshner I guess.   :D

General Discussion / Handy work table
« on: December 13, 2012, 09:34:38 AM »
Having a very small shop flexibility in usage is a key for any surfaces that I use.  One of the tables that I use all the time is this old hospital serving tray.  It is heavy duty, on casters and is adjustable in height.  As you can see in the picture it works great on chairs with arms that you need to turn upside down to work on the bottom.  It's small enough to fit between the arms and the chair sits level and secure. 

I bought the table at a garage sale for $1.00 thinking it might be useful but was quite surprised by how much I use it.  It is also great for a small side table when I'm working on a piece to keep tools and other supplies on so they are nice and handy.


I'm thinking of making a vinyl cover for it to prevent scratching any finished wood surfaces but havent' gotten to that yet.

Just thought I'd share this with you guys.


General Discussion / Re: Whats Your Schedule ?
« on: November 20, 2012, 09:37:55 AM »
I've got enough work to last until just before Christmas.  It has been my best year ever and since the upholstery work is considered the part time work I've been happy.  I'm finishing up two parson's chairs and will start working on two button tufted headboards today.  Then on Friday I get a chair and loveseat from a director of a local museum.  A couple of historic pieces I'm excited to get started on. 

And in the spirit of the week, I just have to say thank you to everyone for their expertise that you all are so willing to share on this forum.  It has been invaluable to me at different times.  I don't always post alot but keep up with the forum regularly.

With that said, keep on covering!


General Discussion / Re: Heavy weight material
« on: September 14, 2012, 09:04:14 AM »
I ended up putting dacron around all the edges and stuffing wads of it in the corners and it is much better.  My wife was happy with it so that means it works. 

Since the fabric is so think you can't tell the difference between the dacron and the fiber fill stuff.

The other issue was the fabric was fraying really bad in the seam where it curves around the arm.  Used a lot of fray check to try and stabalize it since I don't have a serger and the fabric is too thick for my zig zag machine.   

I"ll try and post pictures this weekend.  I got a new computer and still trying to figure out how to do some stuff.


General Discussion / Re: Heavy weight material
« on: September 13, 2012, 02:27:27 PM »
Oops, somehow I posted before I was finished typing....fat fingers or something.

Anyway, my question is has anyone else worked with really heavy weight fabric and did you have any issues? 

I think if it was for the seat cushion is would be fine as it is working with gravity then but as a back cushion it wants to pull everything downward and gives a little more casual look than I think she wants. 

Anyway, we'll find out tomorrow when she comes to pay me.   :D


General Discussion / Heavy weight material
« on: September 13, 2012, 02:22:28 PM »
Ok, I'm working on these two chairs for a designer.  I've been waiting on the fabric for the back cushions (there are three different fabrics in the finished chairs) and she brought it over yesterday.  I started working with it and it is the thickest and heaviest material I've ever worked with.  Four layers of the fabric barely fit under my presser foot (cording plus top and back of cushion) and it have to work it really carefully to keep all the layers together. 

It is also very difficult to cut, need to have very sharp scissors and strong hands!

Now to my issue, I think because the weight of the fabric is so much that the back cushions just don't sit well.  They are bunching up in the curves where the cushion comes over the arm.  I also think it's because the stuffing is the soft fiber fill stuff so it doesn't have much body.  I started to fill in the corners and edges with some dacron that has some good body to it and that seems to help.

The Business Of Upholstery / Re: Best Way of Getting Into The Business
« on: September 10, 2012, 08:11:47 AM »
I'm one of those that started slow.  I took an upholstery class in 1985 and had a good time.  I then re-did pieces for friends and family for many years.  Then in 2005 I had an opportunity to buy a used walking foot machine and started a part time business.  I still run it part time and have the advantag of working from home for my full time job so it's an easy transition to go from one job to the next.  Which, living in MN is really nice in the winter when I don't have to clear off the ice and snow to go somewhere! 

This year has been my busiest by far with both repair (thank you dogs and children) and working for designers.  My customers are always patient with expected delivery times and I try hard to deliver quality work.

The biggest challenge is keeping the income at a low enough rate that we're not killed by taxes.  I'll probably buy some larger items towards the end of the year to keep the profit to a minimum.  We refinanced our house this year at a dramatically lower interest rate so our deductions are going to be much smaller, but I'm excited to save on the Interest costs!


General Discussion / Re: Most interesting thing found in furniture?
« on: August 29, 2012, 02:12:11 PM »
Strangest things I ever found were a cow's hoof, a live bullet, and various combs, brushes and other assorted hair stuff. 

I learn early on never to try and feel amound trying to find something in the cracks because you never know how many pins and needles could be just waiting for you.   :o

Like Chris, my wife is the final inspector.  If she says it's fine then it's good to go out the door.  Told her I'm going to get her stickers so she can put them on the furniture so we know it passed inspection, just like the factory.  Now the question, is she inspector #1 or #2?  What do I put on the stickers? 

Oh, the tough decisions in this business!   :P

General Discussion / Re: newbie in over his head
« on: September 21, 2011, 03:05:49 PM »
Yes, you can just put new webbing across the bottom to keep it from sagging.  Jute webbing stretches over time and thus the sag on the bottom.  I do occasionally just put new webbing on the bottom but ideally us professionals prefer to redo all the webbing, spring tying, etc to make sure that the job will last as long as possible.  As you can tell the original craftsmen did a great job in helping insure that the chair stuffing survived for a long time.

That being said, go ahead and put new webbing on the bottom (you can buy it by the yard from the local fabric store like Hancock or Joann's) and make sure you pull it nice and tight.  There are tools available to pull the webbing and are fairly inexpensive. 

There are several ways to attach the springs to the new webbing.  If it was me I'd hand sew them using very thick thread and a curved needle.  The other methods to attach springs to webbing is to use hog rings or a clinch it tool, which I don't like because I always cut myself on the sharp pointed ends.  Ouch!

You can search the discussion log for more information on this subject.  Good luck and feel free to ask for more help if you need it.


General Discussion / Re: Injuries
« on: May 18, 2011, 09:03:04 AM »
This is one of the reasons I buy accident insurance.  The medical insurance pays the medical bills but the accident insurance helps with extra money to cover bills and stuff while your not working.  It's not very expensive, I pay around $35 for family coverage.  My wife and daughter are also under the plan.

I agree with Kodydog that not completing by the deadlines you gave the customer are what bother you the most.  A month ago my wife was in the hospital for some unknown ailment and it put me behind on two wingback chairs.  Fortunately the customer was very understanding but I just kept feeling guilty for not completing them when I said I would.


General Discussion / Re: Ever Felt The Pressure ??
« on: May 13, 2011, 08:23:57 AM »
I so agree with you Kodydog.  I recovered two chairs for a drapery outfit one time.  Was really careful and did a good job hoping to get more work from them in the future.  When I delivered them she took a quick glance at them, said they looked great and then went got the check to pay me and off I went.  I was very disappointed she didn't take time to inspect my work.  she subsequently sold the business to someone else and I never heard from them again.

I tell my customers that if they shave a concern about something let me know, I'll make it right.  They're the ones that have to live with the furniture not me.

It feels good when people appreciate your work.


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