Friday, September 2, 2022

Spotting a store-brand typewriter (and buying something completely different)

There hadn't been any typewriters at the local thrift-stores for a while - this time round there actually was one machine. As is now usual it was beige affair, but did look a bit more interesting than most of these modern plastic-bodied machines.

Briefly wondering what the HK meant, took a closer look and saw it was actually 44K in a 'funky' 80-ies typeface. The typenumber was preceded by the characteristic 'H' logo of the HEMA store - well, the stylised 'H' they used back in the eighties. The HEMA is a Dutch chain of 'standard price' stores that is still ubiquitous throughout the country - probably similar to what Woolworths was in the Anglo-Saxon world half a century ago.

Although beige, the machine does not look cheap and has quite distinctive styling. Especially the bulbous back seems more about styling than function.

It looks like a store-branded Olivetti machine - although no idea what model this is. Also at the back it merely stated it was a 44K (perhaps a different color ink has faded?), but otherwise it is clean with no manufacturing origin or any other information. The whole machine was very clean; it looked brand new and unused - very much a mint specimen of a quality typewriter.

It was however completely outside of my collecting-domain (and showed zero tinkering potential), so was left there. Somebody will buy him/herself a very good typewriter!

Further down the aisle however was something completely different.

We'd been looking for a lower/larger specimen of these plant-tables. After a quick-check with home - modern times, sending a picture and getting back the 'ok' within minutes - lifted off the vase and took the table to the check-out. Although it cost only a few Euro, the top was warped and the wood clearly hadn't been waxed in decades - after getting it home, it was also rather more wobbly than first assumed. 

Luckily these little oak plant-tables can be revived. Watching 'The Repair Shop' on the telly gave confidence and ideas on how to tackle the warped top. (Thank you Will Kirk.)

Before anything else though, it was given a soak in petroleum (kerosine) against the woodworm and then left for a few days to 'ooze out' the smell. (Petroleum, benzine, spirit etc are confusing in translation, all existing with different meanings in different languages. The Dutch petroleum would be kerosine in English. I think. Dutch kerosine however is the term for aviation fuel. All very confusing...)

To fix the table, the top was removed - woodblock buffer and gently hammering up. The frame was firmed-up by gluing the legs to the side-supports one side a time. I.e. PVA applied in the mortice, clamping and leaving overnight to set. After four days (nights), this completely solved the wobble. 

Next challenge was to lessen the warping of the table-top. Unfortunately didn't take pictures of the flattening of the table-top (too wrapped-up in the process), so making-do with a description. The top was sanded down to bare wood, opening up the wood. Then the top was covered with a wet cloth and ironed. The ironing helps the water to get into the wood, moistening and heating (steam!) the wood-fibres to allow them to bend. Again ironing the covered wet top whilst it is clamped flat. The wet cloth also prevents any scorching of the wood, limiting to 100 ÂșC. Then leaving the top clamped flat overnight to dry and make the fibres set in the new position. This first stage lessened the warping, but still some spring-back.

Doing the process a second time and then clamping it with a slight curve the other way to correct for the spring-back then worked to get top nearly flat again. Re-mounted with four new nails in pre-drilled holes - to avoid any splitting. Not completely flat, but definitely better :-)

To finish the table and remove water-stain damage, the whole thing was very lightly sanded down with fine-grit sandpaper. Starting with 280 and finishing with 400. The table-top had already been completely sanded down to bare oak, also sanded smooth with fine-grit sandpaper. The very satisfying next step in the finishing is to apply the wax. Regular bees-wax with a brown stain applied all-over with a rag; trying for a thin, even layer all-over. Re-applying wax to the top a few times to darken and colour-match to the rest. After giving the wax a few minutes (or a few hours) to settle (the solvent to evaporate), the surface can be polished to a shine with a soft cloth. A clean, soft cloth is key. Polishing with a light pressure, the wood gets again a mirror-like finish.

In a few weeks, the top will get another waxing to further even-out the colour. Still some spots where the stain isn't yet quite even - very satisfying to do.

Fixed and finished, again a stable little table that is good for use again - now awaiting its potted plant :-)

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