The client called and inquired about the possibility of repairing a desk that had been damaged and I asked her to send some pictures. The photographs I received showed a lower frame of a desk with the front rail and one leg detached from the balance of the frame. There was also some evidence of damage to the veneers on the desk, but all in all it looked like it was worth saving. What did concern me was what I could see of the joinery – it looked damaged and weak by design. Only closer examination would reveal if this could be saved.
Fortunately, none of the earlier repairs had included the use of modern glues or epoxies and I only had the original hide glue to contend with. Likewise, the finish was all shellac, also reasonably easy to repair and restore. In the picture of the apron tenon below, you can see how a finish nail was driven into the joint to try to repair the table.
A split in the leg had to be repaired before I could address other joinery issues, and all of the mortises needed to be cleaned out.
Once all of the joints were cleaned and the tenons on the lower rail were reconstructed, I could glue the table base back together using hot hide glue.
I also began to repair loose veneers in the case sides, door fronts and drawer, again using hot hide glue.
On the edges of the desk top, the veneer had peeled away on about 75% of the surface and needed to be replaced. This was replaced with new veneer, trimmed to fit and colored using shellac and dyes.
When I took the desk apart to examine it, I found some old papers stuck in the hollow space behind the desk drawers. An old life insurance bill from the early ’40s and what appeared to be a drivers test with both questions and answers typed out. Looks to be from the ’20’s or ’30’s. These papers will be given to the client along with the desk.
This demilune table draws its inspiration from the Federal period with the delicate inlay and stringing on the legs and the shell paterae. Beautiful walnut crotch veneer radiates out from the center with the pattern continuing onto the front apron. Genuine Gabon ebony borders the top and the apron.
Displayed at The 20th annual New England Fine Furnishings Show in Pawtucket, RI, this piece was recognized as “Best in Show”, traditional work.
This solid cherry bookcase is set for delivery to its new home tomorrow.
Designed as a companion piece to a desk recently completed for the same client (Cherry Desk) it is just about 6 feet tall, 32″ in width and a foot deep.
The book-case features columns that flare at both the top and bottom and a full round over on the outer profile. Along with the gentle arcs on the upper and lower rails (also featured on the desk) these curves soften the harsh lines so often seen in bookcases and give the bookcase an elegant and contemporary look.
The shelves are substantial in thickness to accommodate the clients legal volumes without sagging over the 32″ width of the case. Four of the shelves are adjustable with a fifth fixed shelf. The back of the case is solid cherry joined with a ship lap joint to deal with seasonal movement, and each piece has a small chamfer providing a subtle detail.
The bookcase has been finished with an oil/varnish blend and wax, hand rubbed in to a soft luster.
I enjoy working with a variety of woods both domestic and exotic timbers and it is always a joy to see the natural beauty of the wood come alive as we prepare and finish the surfaces. There are many woods that are known for beauty they exhibit when finished including the curly maple that I showed in a recent posting of a students work (“When Students Become Friends”). Many of the more exotic species which we pay dearly for also have a spectacular appearance and can sometimes overwhelm the design of the work itself.
Beautiful materials don’t have to cost a fortune and they can be readily found right here in New Hampshire. The cherry used in this recently completed desk is a perfect example. It has a warmth and glow to it that is just beautiful and even though I didn’t pay premium to source “curly cherry”, careful selection of the materials at the supplier yielded some wonderful material to work with. Upon completion of the desk, I finished the piece with a number of coats of Waterlox oil/varnish blend. After allowing the finish to cure it was rubbed out with abrasives and pumice. No stains, no dyes, no chemicals in this case, just the natural beauty of some American cherry.
Over the last few weeks I have had a student coming into the shop from time to time working patiently on his first significant furniture piece. Jim is an accomplished pianist (http://jimrobbinspiano.com/) and has always had a strong interest in woodworking and as his music and writing will attest to, a very strong creative side.Continue reading When Students Become Friends and Lessons Learned→