Secrets of Successful Furniture Repair With Clay

Furniture Repair and Restoration for a Thrift Shop find

Last week at the thrift store, I found this beauty that needed a “touch” of furniture repair. Ok well maybe a lot of repair. Some furniture pieces just require more extensive repair. And because of the furniture restoration, most shoppers will quickly bypass a piece like this. This piece is a little time worn, which actually makes the needed furniture repair to the trim much easier.

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Furniture repair before

Furniture repair sculpey

To make this repair, I used Sculpey clay that is cured in the oven to make molds for new trim. Sculpey recommends keeping your clay pieces 1/4″ or less. You then bake your pieces at 275 for 15 minutes. When you first take the clay out of the oven it will seem a little pliable. But as it cools it hardens. Once it’s hard, then you are able to start sanding any major imperfections out.

For a furniture restoration where the repair is to replace a missing smooth edge, I use Sculpey clay to make molds for the new trim.

Furniture Repair Making the Molds

To make the molds I used the following steps:

Furniture repair making molds

1. To make the mold for the new trim,  I found a good area of the existing edging.

2.I sprayed cooking spray on the area where I was going to put the clay, so I would be able to remove the clay after forming the mold.

3.Next I pressed the clay over a good area of the trim. after making sure the clay was pressed in hard and measured to make sure it was long enough,  I gently pulled the clay off.

Note: I used a different baking time setting for the making the molds.

Furniture repair bake

4. I  baked the clay pieces at 275 degrees for 8 minutes, so it would stay pliable. Normally the clay is baked at 275 for 15 minutes making it hard.

5. After the clay cooled down I sprayed indented area of the mold with cooking spray, so the newly added clay would not stick to the mold. *The mold will stay pliable since it was not baked for the entire recommended time.

After pushing clay into the molds, and removing what sticks out of the molds (this will save you sanding time later) it’s time to bake the new trim pieces.

6. I baked the clay this time for the recommended 275 degrees for the full 15 minutes. I let the pieces cool for just a couple of minutes. If let them cool too long your mold will turn very hard (it’s now been baked twice), and you may not be able to remove your newly molded trim piece.

On this piece it doesn’t have to be perfect by any means, since it’s going to repair a time worn piece. After the clay is baked, I started sanding the back of the new trim that would meet the table so it would have a good fit to the table.

After gluing the repair clay pieces in place with E6000, I let it dry overnight.

Furniture repair sanding

In full disclosure, I will tell you due to the curved edge of this piece, after being glued in place with E6000, the new trim pieces still required significant sanding. I also used Elmer’s wood putty to fill in a couple of small gaps, and then let it dry.

Furniture repair trim

Cleaning It Up

When I was happy with the trim repair, it was time to clean this piece and get it ready for paint. For cleaning furniture that will be painted with Chalk paint, I use Clorox wipes. Any wipe with a disinfectant/bleach I have found will work. You may need to go over the piece many times depending on how dirty it is. You have to get it clean or you will experience blotchy paint application.

Next it’s time to paint. I*love*this*part! Paint creates such a transformation, so quickly.

I intend to use a mix of grey and white chalk paint to create a toned down beachy looking table.

What color would. You paint this table?

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  • Greta Nelson
    April 13, 2018 at 3:20 am

    I have a furniture piece just like this, almost identical. I love the fix to the broken trim – I’m going to have to try that!

    • Sherrie
      April 13, 2018 at 3:34 pm

      Hi Greta,

      Thanks so much for stopping by.

      I love this table! I plan to finish painting the piece this weekend. Is yours painted or stained? What room do you use it in?