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Thursday, April 8, 2010

Repairing an Old Pine Chest Of Drawers (ca. 1840-1860) Part 1

The old pine chest pictured below dates to somewhere between the years 1840-1860. The top of the chest is marble which I left with the customer. The construction is all done by hand and the chest is made almost exclusively of pine. The presence of Poplar as drawer sides and backs indicate that this was a piece built in the south, due to the fact that Poplar grows in abundance south of Pennsylvania. The glass knobs are most likely replacements and the finish is a mixture of old paint and shellac. This piece has had several coats of paint on it which have been removed over time. The customer and I decided to leave the finish as is but to repair the abrasion around where the knobs only.

The real problem with this piece is that the drawer runner system has become unusable. The runners on the sides of the drawers have been worn down and in some cases broken entirely. The interior runners have deep gouges where the drawer has had contact and are in some cases incomplete and all were held on solely by the cut nails. The glue had completely given way.Below is a photo of the chest and following are the repairs to the runner system.Here is a photo of an interior runner on the right side of the chest. It's job is to support the drawer and guide it into place. If you look at the end of flat board you can see the unevenness. that should be flat. this has been created by years of the drawer sliding in and out on top of the board. Here is a picture of all of the interior runners removed.Here is another shot of the damage. If you look at the right side of the board you can see how much it has been gouged out.I like to save as much original material as possible in the restoration process. some people would simply discard the old interior runners and build new ones. I chose instead to cut away only the damaged area and to replace it with oxidized pine that is glued in place of the damaged area. Below is a photo of one of the runners with the damaged area removed and the board used for replacement on the left.After I ripped the new board on the table saw the two were joined. Here they are before joining.Here is a photo of all six interior runners being repaired.Below are two photos of the sides of the drawers. you can see the damage to the lower sections (also called runners). In the first photo, The Runner is broken and in the second there is a section missing. Two of the three drawers needed to be dismantled to properly fix these drawers.
The problem area was removed by ripping the board on the table saw, creating a flat surface to glue the new runner to. Here are the four drawer sides, each getting new runners attached to the bottoms.A close up of the installation of a new runner.


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