Thursday, April 7, 2016

Restoring Antique Furniture

Antiques have always fascinated Cathey and me. We started collecting antique furniture right after we were married, mainly because we couldn’t afford the high prices of new furniture at the time. We would visit flea markets and find a piece that needed some work and refinishing, bring it home and turn it into a treasure for our house. We were told early on by antique dealers if we changed the cosmetics of the pieces that it would decrease the value of the furniture. The decrease in value didn’t brother us because we wanted something that looked nice and could be restored close to its original appearance. At times we would find a gem in antique shops that needed work and get it at a reasonable price; which was the case of the chester drawers/chest of drawers we found in a Murfreesboro Tennessee antique shop back in December of 2015.
I knew this piece had age but didn’t realize the age range until I got it home and did some research through Google. Sorry I don’t have an image of the appearance of the chester drawers when we bought it. The structure of this piece was good, but the dark aged varnish, broken pieces of veneer on the top and drawer fronts, really turned customers off. This is what it looks like now after I sanded it back to its original wood at the time it was built.
Some work had to be done to get the drawers to fit back flush around the drawer rims, but that was minor compared to getting all the broken veneer off the piece.
Lots of wood species were used back in the early days of furniture building. Poplar, pine, ash, and maple were the woods that were used together most often to construct a piece of furniture in the early days. As is the case here in this piece, pine was used for the drawer fronts, and poplar was used for the top, sides, legs and drawers rims for this chester drawers. Walnut, oak, mahogany and cherry were seldom used together in construction of furniture in the early days.
I didn’t realize the beauty of the top until I removed all the dark varnish. It was solid popular in excellent condition, now back to its original appearance at construction.
What really attracted me to this chester drawers in the antique shop when I saw it were the joints used for the construction of the drawers? I knew these dovetail joints were used in early furniture construction, but didn’t realize they dated back to the late 1700’s. This is not your common dovetail joint which was commonly used throughout the 1800’s and even in today’s furniture construction. This dovetail joint was the first used in furniture construction back in colonial days; quite a find for fifty bucks!!!
Stay tune for its progress as stain and a finish is applied. 
 Image of the same type dovetail joint of a drawer constructed in 1700's

 

12 comments:

Kevin Frank said...

I wish I had the patience and skill to do that stuff. I know I'd mess it up.

thedeadfisher said...

Nice chest Bill. Norm Abrams from The New Yankee Workshop would tell you that's called a blind dovetail.

Howard Levett said...

Hi Bill! I really like this post. Sad to say that antique furniture holds a very strong interest with me. My wife and I don't do it as much as we use to, but many dates ended up in thrift/antique stores. There are some real hidden gems out there looking for someone to find them.

Bill Trussell said...

Kevin
Don't sell yourself short on restoring a piece of old furniture. A good varnish remover, sandpaper, stain, and a satin finish and you are in business. Start with something small---thanks for the comment

Bill Trussell said...

Fisher
This is one of the reason I blog, to learn, thanks for giving me the correct name of the dovetail joint. The dovetail joints is what caused me the pay the 50 bucks for the piece. Thanks for the comment

Brk Trt said...

Working to restore items as that chest is a real specialty.
I can't wait to see it finished.

Bill Trussell said...

Kevin
Don't sell yourself short when it comes to restoring dated furniture; start small and work your way up to larger things as you get accustomed to the process. Thanks for the comment

Bill Trussell said...

Alan
Agreed, it takes time to restore pieces like the chest; the way I handle it is working on it between fishing. Thanks for the comment

Walt Franklin said...

My mother had an antique/restoration business once upon a time, and it was fun to help out a little. It's easy to understand the fascination here, and it's importance in the scheme of things. Thanks for giving us an interesting view!

Bill Trussell said...

Walt
I hope to have a stain and finish on it soon to share with all you. thanks for the comment

penbayman said...

Looking forward to the finished 'product"

Bill Trussell said...

Pen
Hope to have it finished before the spring fishing get really hot!!!