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Should Traditional Upholsterers Use Tacks Or Staples When Re-Upholstering Antique Furniture?

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The question of whether traditional upholsterers should use tacks or staples when re-upholstering antique furniture is frequently and, often, fiercely debated. So what are the two sides of this argument?

Those who are solidly in the Tack Camp argue that all re-upholstery should be authentic and true to the history of the piece of furniture. They argue that staples are a modern invention and should not be used on old pieces of furniture, as to do so results in an unhappy blend of different eras. Some even maintain that using staples will ruin the furniture. To them staples are seen at best as unthinkable, at worst as almost sacrilegious.

Those upholsterers who are in the Staple Camp maintain that one of the foremost reasons for using staples is to protect the wooden frames of the furniture, as staples cause much less damage to the frames. Without a doubt tacks create a much larger hole in the wood than do staples. Staples make two little holes. The pro staplers also maintain that putting in a staple is one hit to the furniture and the staple is home, where a tack require several hammer hits to knock it home. For fragile pieces of furniture the less hitting the better. It is also claimed that because the staple gun is placed in position before the staple is fired, there is no damage to the show wood.

I think that both sides of this argument have merit and that the ideal situation is a happy blending of both tacks and staples. In my work I do use both; though not always on the same piece of furniture.

Staples are in fact not all that modern. The first patent for a stapler was granted on August 7, 1866 for a device called the Novelty Paper Fastner. This device allowed a single staple to be loaded and it was used mainly to bind papers or books, but was also used on carpet, furniture and boxes. However, the earliest record of staples is from France in the 18th century. They were developed for the use of King Louis XIV of France and each staple bore his name!

Staples were not originally created specifically for use in upholstery, but the upholstery trade has a tradition of ‘borrowing’ materials from other trades. For example Calico, which is a bleached cloth used frequently in upholstery. Originally this was a fabric brought to the UK from Calicut, India by the East India Trading Company for use in the clothing trade. Very quickly upholsterers saw the benefit of this cloth to their trade and so Calico became a fundamental part of upholstery.

In practical terms often a long-nosed staple gun will successfully place a staple in a very tight area where a tack and hammer just won’t work. Recently I was asked to re-upholster a Victorian chair whose tacking rail was in such poor condition that the only answer was to use staples or else have the tacking rail rebuilt.

One drawback of staples is that they tend to be a nuisance to remove when stripping off a piece of furniture. They often snap leaving a small piece of staple left in the furniture. This though can be hammered flat which will cause no ill effect. Usually the staples can be removed by hand with a staple remover and a pair of pliers. This is beneficial to the frame since there is no banging as there is when using a ripping chisel and mallet to remove old tacks. If you are careful about the placement of the staples then is possible to remove them without causing any damage to the show wood.

Tacks still have a very worthwhile place in the upholstery trade. I think that it is right to try to use tacks on very old and / significant pieces of furniture.

From a commercial point of view though staples greatly speed up an upholsterer’s job and at the end of the day we are running a business. If it came down to making a choice, I would rather use staples than reduce the quality of my stuffing or webbing.

One final point to consider is that when re-upholstering any piece of furniture we should not try to hide the fact that the work has been done in the 21st century. After all this is another phase of the furniture’s life and in time it will also become part of its history.

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Greyhound Racing: What The Coloured Jackets Mean

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The typical greyhound race in the UK consists of six dogs. Each dog is identified by the coloured jacket it wears for the race. The colour signifies its starting position – in other words the trap number it races from – and helps you to identify the dogs as they are racing. The colours are standard so it helps to become familiar with them for your night at the greyhounds. Let’s take a run through them.

The red jacked is always worn by the dog starting from trap one. This is the starting position closest to the inside rail. Such animals generally have a preference for running along the inside of the track and are known to race goers as “railers.” A railer typically requires a good burst of early speed to hold its position in to the first corner and not get baulked by the opposition.

The blue jacket is always worn by the dog starting from trap two. This trap is also generally favoured by railers with such dogs seeking to get over to the rail in front of the greyhound in trap one.

The white jacket is always worn by the animal starting from trap three and the black jacket is always worn by the greyhound staring from trip four. Such starting positions are generally favoured by greyhounds who have a natural preference for running along the middle of the track as signified by the (M) notation next to their name in the race card.

The orange jacket is always worn by the greyhound starting from trap five and the black and white striped jacket by the greyhound starting from trap six. Such staring positions are generally favoured by greyhounds who have a natural preference for running towards the wide outside of the track as signified by the (W) notation next to their name in the race card. A potential advantage of wide running is that the frequent first turn scrimmaging can be avoided.

Trap position does make a difference and should be taken in to account when looking for betting opportunities. A greyhound running out of position can be harmful to its chances though usually for graded races trap preference is taken in to account by the racing manager and a wide runner will not be placed in to an inside trap and vice-versa.

This is to avoid trouble in running. For example if a greyhound which is normally a wide runner was to be placed in trap one its natural instinct would be to seek the outside rail and move right out of the traps. This could cause interference with other dogs in the race.

It can be a fun night out and need not break the bank as entry is not expensive. Many race goers like to enjoy a meal as they watch the racing from the comfort of the restaurant. A few minutes familiarising yourself with the different coloured jackets, the starting position and if your chosen greyhound has a noted preference for trap position can aid your enjoyment when going for a night at the greyhound racing.

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How Do YOU Measure Success

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It was in January of 1962 when Barnsley P. Wentworth III told his father that he wasn’t going to be a doctor: he was going to be a clown. Without hesitating his father replied, “Then you will never amount to anything. Consider yourself a failure.” That was the moment Barnsley P. Wentworth III fell from his father’s grace, changed his name to Juggles, and became a clown. It was his greatest joy. It was his greatest passion. And he never made more than $50 a job.

It was a hot afternoon in July and Juggles was driving back to his hotel after working all day at a county fair, when he took a wrong turn into a trailer park and saw the mailbox covered in balloons – the calling card of a child’s birthday party. He sat there for a moment, looked at his watch, shook his head, sighed, and grinned from ear to ear as he put his rubber nose back on and jumped out of the car. He saw a little red head peeking through the flowered sheet curtain followed by piercing squeals as the door burst open and children rushed at him like excited puppies finding food. He would never forget that sound or the shocked look on the mother’s face as she whispered thank you and started to believe again. Or the sheer adoration on the birthday boy’s face as Juggles signed his cast and he solemnly vowed to never wash his arm again as he hugged Juggles’ striped leg and that moment was branded into his memory as he whispered thank you and started to believe again.

Juggles never stopped being a clown. Day in and day out. It stayed his dream and remained his passion. Even when his hair fell out and he was too weak to honk his nose – even from his bed, when what little fans that were left had to come to him. It was March of 1998 when Juggles died, wearing a big red nose and a contented smile. He never made more than $50 a job.

How do you measure success?

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When Do Interns Have to Be Paid? Revised FLSA Test May Create New Unpaid Internship Opportunities

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Did you know that the Department of Labor recently changed the test used to determine whether interns are employees under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)? Though mostly overlooked, this development may significantly affect the manner in which employers provide internship opportunities. It may also encourage other employers to start their own internship programs.

In January 2018, the Department of Labor clarified that going forward, a “primary beneficiary” test will be used to determine whether interns are employees of “for profit” employers under the FLSA. Why is this a big deal? The FLSA’s minimum wage and overtime pay requirements generally apply to employees, not interns.

Educators and employers alike agree that individuals can benefit greatly from properly designed unpaid internship programs. Unfortunately, since interns are not entitled to compensation under the FLSA, they may be exploited by employers who use their free labor without providing with an appreciable benefit in education or experience. The DOL began issuing informal guidance to prevent this kind of abuse in the late 1960s.

In 2010, the DOL published a 6-factor test to distinguish between interns that don’t need to be paid under the FLSA and employees that do. One factor in particular proved to be a nearly insurmountable obstacle. “The employer that provides the training derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the intern; and on occasion its operations may actually be impeded.”

Since all six factors had to apply, many believed this test was too rigid, including some federal appellate courts. These courts instead opted to apply a “primary beneficiary” test that:

  • focuses on what interns receive in exchange for their work;
  • gives courts the flexibility to examine the economic reality of the intern/employer relationship; and
  • acknowledges the uniqueness of internships in that interns agree to perform work in exchange for educational or vocational benefits.

In January 2018, the DOL essentially adopted this “primary beneficiary” test to eliminate unnecessary confusion and provide increased flexibility to holistically analyze internships on a case-by-case basis. This test includes seven factors to consider when determining whether an intern is actually an employee under the FLSA.

  1. Expectation of Compensation. The extent to which the intern and the employer clearly understand that there is no expectation of compensation. Any promise of compensation, express or implied, suggests that the intern is an employee-and vice versa.
  2. Training. The extent to which the internship provides training that would be similar to that which would be given in an educational environment, including clinical and other hands-on training provided by educational institutions.
  3. Education. The extent to which the internship is tied to the intern’s formal education program by integrated coursework or the receipt of academic credit.
  4. Academics. The extent to which the internship accommodates the intern’s academic commitments by corresponding to the academic calendar.
  5. Duration. The extent to which the internship’s duration is limited to the period in which the internship provides the intern with beneficial learning.
  6. Displacement. The extent to which the intern’s work complements, rather than displaces, the work of paid employees while providing significant educational benefits to the intern.
  7. Promise of Employment. The extent to which the intern and the employer understand that the internship is conducted without entitlement to a paid job at the conclusion of the internship.

Unlike the rigid six-factor test, the primary beneficiary test is intended to be flexible. No single factor is determinative and additional factors may also be considered on a case-by-case basis when appropriate.

The FLSA’s “internship exclusion” was quite narrow under the old six-factor test. Whether this changes under the new primary beneficiary test remains to be seen. Nevertheless, employers should proceed cautiously when evaluating and determining whether someone can be treated as intern under the FLSA, rather than an employee.

The risk of employment-related claims goes up whenever laws and regulations change. Employment Practices Liability Insurance, which may include limited wage and hour coverage, can protect employers in the event of an inadvertent violation.

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