Small elm bedside stand, Part 3

You can find part 2 here and part 1 here.

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.

Doesn’t look like much now.

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).

After fitting the door and replacing the hinges and knob. The bottom apron still needs to be adjusted.

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.

One of the two back panels.
This was taken after I had tried flattening it under some weights for a week. I was going to try oiling it to make it more flexible but decided to replace it rather than put any more time into it.

Making a replacement rail was very straightforward. I used the original as a template and got out my plough plane to cut the groove.

With the new panels and top rail. I will work on the color later.

I have everything back together and after I adjust the bottom apron, I’ll be ready to start coloring.

Getting there.

My next post will likely be after I get started on the coloring and finish.

Small elm bedside stand, Part 2 “Scars to your beautiful”

Part one is here.

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.

The feathery grain is what makes elm so distinctive and beautiful.

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.

At this point I was really worried that the damage had gone too deep.
Put some alcohol down to see what the grain would look like after finishing. Still a long way to go.

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.

The damage to the left side meant that the edge was more rounded over than the undamaged side, so I just rounded over the undamaged side and called it a day. When I run my fingertips over both sides, it is not distracting, and you can’t really see that the edge is not as sharp as it could be.

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.

Leaving it alone for now.
Using the door to match the colour to.
Before and after.

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.

Now on to the rest of the carcase.

Small elm bedside stand, Part 1

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.

My first project of 2022. A nice little elm bedside stand.
Significant fire damage to the top.
Can this be repaired? Tune in next week, same Bat Time, same Bat Channel!
Can’t really see it from here, but the panels are severely warped. They are solid elm.

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.

Is the bottom worth keeping?

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.

Slant top secretaire restoration, Part 5 1/2

Just wanted to post a quick update on her foot surgery. The procedure was a success and she is already standing and using her new toe.

Before the operation.
With her splint.

All the major repairs and restoration are now complete and I’m now working on the sides and some of the egg and dart moulding. Very close to being done.

Slant top secretaire restoration, Part 5

So, even with all the physical repairs that I’ve done on this piece, the portion of the restoration that has taken the most time and required the most precision is the hardware. I have replaced the slant top hinges, the slant top lock, the large drawer locks, the front door hinges, and the front door lock. The front door hinges took the longest of anything because they require the most accuracy, with the slant top hinges a close 2nd.

When I started this project, I wasn’t even sure that I’d be able to find the hardware I was looking for. I began my search on eBay and found some great hardware (for future projects), but nothing that I could use on this project. I then went to Van Dykes Restorers and found some very good possibilities for the hinges, but eventually moved on to Hardware of the Past (before they closed shop) for the escutcheons and the lock for the slant top.

Slant top lock replacement.
New lock in situ.

The hinges for the slant top were worrisome on many levels for me because not only was I repairing damage from previous repairs, but I then needed to fit and mount new hinges.

Can’t really see it from this angle, but the damage to the slant top meant that the hinge screws were about to tear out.

I had thought about leaving the mortises for the hinges and just trying to find a hinge the same size, but that was a no-go. There had been quite a few repairs and I wanted to make sure that my repairs were on solid ground, so I mortised out a lot of the previous repairs and then laminated in patches for the hinges as well as the damage to the edge of the lid.

That looks a right mess there.

I wrestled with the idea of laminating a strip all the way across the lid, but that would have been an unnecessary removal of a lot of original material.

Fitting the hinges.
Waiting for the correct (flat head) screws and a couple coats of shellac.

I then moved on to the locks for the large drawers. After the comedy that was me trying to remove the original lock from the lid, the drawers were very straightforward.

Replacement locks for the large drawers.

The front doors were the most fiddly of the hardware because I didn’t use the hinges that were there (they weren’t the originals), the doors hadn’t been hung correctly, and I had to repair some significant damage to one of the doors where a hinge had been torn off.

Some damage to the door.
Wash, rinse, and repeat for the other door.
After fitting and coloring.

I mortised the hinges into the doors and into the sides and the doors now close with a wonderfully small and uniform gap all around and the astragal covers the gap between the doors beautifully. I don’t have a picture of that yet, but it’s coming.

After all of that fiddly stuff, the podiatrist is finally in and will fix my lady’s broken toe.

Tune in next time. Same Bat Time. Same Bat Channel.

Slant top secretaire restoration, Part 4

This is continued from part 3. I’ve made good progress on the secretaire, and I was going to say that it doesn’t look like it, but after going through my previous posts, I take that back.

With her new bling, but still a broken toe.

I’ve made progress on several fronts (and backs). The back frame and panel is finished. I used some 3/4 inch pine for the frame and 1/4 inch plywood for the panel. I cut the pine into 2 1/2 inch rails and stiles and then got out one of my plough planes with a 1/4 iron.

The plough plane (and 1/4 inch iron) I used to cut the channel for the plywood.

A couple of fun facts about the planes to the right in the picture above. The one with the wormholes I got while on a project (my day job) in Georgia. A co-worker and I were driving to the project site when we saw an antique store and had to stop. I found this toothing plane and even though it’s pretty holy, the blade is in great shape. I’ve used it once (I do not collect tools, I use them. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.) but I don’t work with thick veneers – yet – so I haven’t had a chance to really put it to use. Next to it are a pair of match planes from Sweden, made in the 1880s. I had been drooling over them at Allen Snyder’s booth at Midtown Antiques in Stillwater for a while, but then forgot about them when they weren’t there any more. Holly had got them for my birthday present.

Back on topic. The frame and panel for the back was pretty straightforward, so I was able to knock it out in a day. The coloring took another couple of days.

Trimming it down to size.
The water based colors that I use. I learned how to use these while at school and have been playing with colors since.
The back-facing side is almost ready. I just realized that I didn’t take any pictures of the front-facing side.
Ignore the shiny fasteners. I haven’t dulled them yet.

I made the back-facing side darker, to match the back that was on here. The front-facing side, I matched to the color and tone of the case.

I also finished the hinges for the slant front and the damaged portion of the lid.

Splicing in the repairs.
The gaps along each side match.
You can see that I haven’t colored the repair here yet.
Edge view of the damaged area.

The next thing I’ve started on is the front doors. You can see the beautiful bevelled glass that I got from my local glazier, Tom Huisman https://www.huismanglass.com/

During my first fitting of the front doors. I’ll have better pictures of the glass later.

I’ll have more pictures of the glass in the doors in a later post. Right now I’m making repairs and replacing the hinges. There had been several repairs of the doors which ended up with a large mortise cut into both doors.

Deep mortises had been cut into both doors for previous repairs.
Damage as well as the deep mortise.

Because of the deep mortises that had been cut into both doors there was nearly an inch gap between the doors when they closed, so the lock could not reach the other door.

Original (non functioning) lock.

I cleaned out the mortises and spliced in some oak.

I then shaved it down with a block plane, spokeshave, and sandpaper.

Next steps will be to fit the new hinges and color the repairs.

I’m really getting close to finishing this piece, and I’m very excited. Once the front doors are done, I’ll finish my touch-ups of the slant top, as it has become something of a distraction. I’ll have better pictures of the hardware in my next post and talk about where I got it.

Slant top secretaire restoration, Part 3

I mentioned in my previous post that the hinges for the slant top portion of the desk would be the most involved part of the restoration. The hinges had been replaced a few times and the hinge shape had changed as well. This not only left random holes but large shapes carved into the shelf and the lid.

It looks like these replacement hinges were a bit of a rush job. The mortise that the hinges are set in is too large for the hinge and the person doing the restoration may have used one chisel to remove the material. It also looks like the hinge may have been installed incorrectly, which then caused a portion of the lid to break off when the lid was opened. This is all speculation, but I like to put myself in their shoes and see if I can find explanations for the things I find.

As you can see there are a couple of different sizes carved into this piece and that along with the damage done to the edge of the lid told me that I need to repair these and not just put new hinges in there.

This is where the project gets challenging because I have to remove material and then splice in new material to make the piece stronger. In this case, I need to remove a section where the lid broke and also remove the material around the old hinge mortise. I then splice in the new material. When I cut these pieces I have to pay attention to grain direction, grain orientation, grain consistency (is it clear straight grain or curvy). In the case of the broken lid portion, I saw that the edge showed the flat sawn side and the flat top showed the quarter sawn. For the hinge pieces, I looked at how the quarter sawn grain ran and oriented the new pieces to mimic that.

Here you can see the flat sawn “cathedral” grain along the edge. This picture was taken after I had shaped the new material with a block plane, spokeshave, chisels, rasps and sandpaper.

In the picture above, you can see that I cut the mortise along the grain and oriented the patch so that the grain followed the surrounding grain. Once the piece was glued I then used a block plane and then sandpaper to bring the material down to level.

In my next post I’ll show the rest of the process of cutting in the new hinges and coloring and blending the repairs.