One of the things we–and most upholsterers– feel really strongly about is keeping furniture out of the landfill, and repairing/reusing something you already have.
How can we encourage our customers to choose reupholstering if we don’t “walk the walk” ourselves?
This is what was going through my mind as smoke poured out of our benchtop Delta belt sander recently. We are in the business of refurbishing things. How can I in good conscience throw out this nice and somewhat expensive tool?
How much does a new one cost? Delta doesn’t make them anymore, so the options were either a cheap, unknown brand or a very expensive model better suited to fine woodworking than occasional and often inappropriate shop use.
But then there was option C: repair. A quick call to a local Delta dealer, and an internet search got me a probable cause for the gushing smoke as well as a source for the new motor that would fix the problem. Does the dealer offer repairs? Nope. Do they offer encouragement to do it myself? In spades.
Another thing most upholsterers enjoy is taking something apart, not only to see what makes it tick, but to put it back together better than it was before. Buckets of sawdust, a gazillion screws and a few skinned knuckles later, that’s just what we did.
Three staff members, 3 repair parts and a couple months later, we are back to making sawdust and using our belt sander for slightly questionable purposes. Could we have just bought a new one? Sure. Would it have been cheaper? Very likely. Would it have been as good as our old one? Doubtful. Would we be looking at it with the same amount of gosh darn pride as we are the old Delta that now works like a charm? No way!
In case I was too subtle there, I’m drawing some pretty strong parallels between the saga of the sander (should I capitalize that, I wonder?) and choosing reupholstery for a beloved piece of furniture. Newer is absolutely not always better. A well chosen piece revamped will give you that twinkle of pride long after the shine is off of that cheaper new piece. Plus the added bonus is you get to keep something nicer, rather than replacing it with a second or third rate alternative.
Now on to my next victim. I’m talking to you, band saw.
Repair. Reuse. Recycle. And absolutely, reupholster.