I’ve started my next restoration projects so I’ll begin here by introducing you all to the one that’s in the worst shape. The elm stand as a whole is not in terrible shape, but the top has substantial fire damage. I’m not yet sure if the top can be repaired or if it will have to be replaced. I’m hoping I can save it.
It will get new hinges, pulls and knobs. I’ll also be replacing the casters, which are missing, with good brass and wood-wheeled casters.
The bottom is pine and is heavily warped. I doubt that I’ll put much effort into this part and will probably just replace it.
There will be some minor repairs to the feet and legs, but nothing to write home about. My next posts will cover the repairs in detail.
Even though I didn’t start working on the top first, I’m going to talk about it here first because the biggest decisions I had to make about the restoration were related to the top.
First, a couple more pictures of the damage.
A few observations I made right away were that the damage was deep. I wasn’t sure how deep, but I would soon find out. The second was that the boards that make up the top were very different and there was no attempt to arrange them in a way that blended the grain. That is just a lost opportunity with something as beautiful as elm. The feathery grain is distinctive and makes it one of the most beautiful of all the woods.
I did also notice that the sides of the piece also showed the lost opportunity as the boards were not arranged for either side. I’m pretty sure this piece was made in an automated shop. Either that or the assembly line that the workers were on didn’t allow them the time to make these types of decisions.
As I looked at the fire damage, I had a couple of options running around in my head. If it was too deep I could take enough material off of the top to make it flat and then laminate some new elm on top. I could also take out material just from the portion of the top that was damaged (the left 1/3 of the top) and then laminate new material in. I dismissed this last one right away because that would have left a long line down the top where the new and old wood meet. I decided that I just did not want to introduce any new material to the top if I could help it, so I got out my hand plane and my scrapers and got to work.
After working on the top for a while, I really started to worry that the damage had simply gone too deep and that I would have to laminate material on to the top. But I did actually reach a point where I felt that the damage was not the first thing you would see.
I don’t have a lot of pictures of the colouring process, because it was more of a matter of colour matching the different boards than it was to match the top to the rest of the piece. But eventually, I got to a point where I could leave it alone and work on the rest of the piece.
I’m happy with how it’s turned out so far, and any further tweaks I feel need to be made can be done with wax.
I’ve made some progress on the bedside stand since last we met. I’ve taken the piece apart to clean the joints and make them stronger.
This stand is actually a great example of an older piece that has some pretty interesting “quirks”. Many of the joints were pretty loose and I could see that in a couple of spots the glue was used to fill the significant gaps between the tenon and the mortise. I also noticed that the bottom had been replaced and the new bottom could not be fit into the slots made for it, so a small piece of wood was scabbed onto the front so the bottom just sat on it.
There are also some mortises that are not in the same place on the matching stiles (crooked). That said, this piece has lasted a lot longer than some of the modern “disposable” furniture, and once I am finished with it, it will live on much longer again.
The fire damage was not just to the top but also damaged the leg.
I have scraped away much of the fire damage here and have filled the split. I’m not sure if I will do anything else to it or not as it’s barely noticeable.
One of the more fiddly bits with this piece has been fitting the door. This because the sides are not square and the bottom apron is quite loose and will need to be squared to the bottom of the door. When I removed the door I knew I would not be reusing the screw holes from the previous hinges, so I plugged them with dowels and drilled new holes for the new hinges (nice brass hinges).
Now onto the back of the stand. The original panels were extremely warped and split so I replaced them. As I was getting into this, I noticed that the top rail was also very warped and twisted so I replaced them all.
Making a replacement rail was very straightforward. I used the original as a template and got out my plough plane to cut the groove.
I have everything back together and after I adjust the bottom apron, I’ll be ready to start coloring.
My next post will likely be after I get started on the coloring and finish.