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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Chicago Table Works Oak Extension Table (ca. 1890)

The table in the photos below was made by a company called the "Chicago Table Works" around 1890. It is an Oak Extension Table with 5 Leaves, but I think it originally accommodated 8 Leaves. I couldn't find out a lot about the Chicago Table Works, but I did find that it was operating in the 1890's at 351 Canal St. in Chicago, Illinois. The business was taken over by the Newark Ohio Furniture Company of Newark, Ohio around 1900. It would be interesting to find out why this move was made, because the distance by car between these two towns is about 6 hours. I did find reference to The Newark Ohio Furniture Company taking on the former employees of the Chicago Table Works. Whether this was the upper management or the Labor force I am not sure. For a look at the history of Furniture Manufacture in Chicago, take a look at the link to this article:


This table has had quite a life in its 120 year history. It came to me completely dismantled and also stained black. Prior to the staining, this table saw a lot of action which is shown by scratches an stains beneath the black stain. The entire table is made of oak with the exception of the apron which is pine with a Quarter Sawn Oak Veneer. here are two photos of the table as it came to me:

The first step was to remove the finish and black stain from the table. After this messy job was completed, there was still residue left over from the stain on the surface of the table. I am now in the process of sanding the table to remove this and bring it back to it's natural color. The photo below shows the table with the finish removed.
before the sanding could be completed, there were many repairs to be made. The most significant was that the top, which should be two sections, had come apart at the glue joints making a total of 5 sections. Below is the top with witht he glue joints scraped and ready for gluing.
The process of gluing up a round top is a challenge to a restorer because of the lack of edges for clamping. When the top was originally made, it would have been glued up square and then the circle cut out once the glue had dried. My answer for this was to create a clamping system which involves a simple jig for clamping on a curve. I start out with two saw horses with kerfs cut into the 2 x 4 surfaces set parallel to each other. These are seen in the photo below.
I next set some bar clamps into the kerfs. the blue tape on the clamps is to separate the iron from the Oak. When Oak contacts iron with moisture involved (from the glue) the result is that it turns the Oak black. the blue tape prevents this from happening and also prevents the top from adhering to the clamps!
Here is the top set in place.
This is where the jig comes in. the jig is comprised of a long board with two triangle shaped 2x 4's attached with one screw. One of these are set at either end and the clamps are atached to the blocks. the long board keeps the blocks from spreading apart and the one screw works as a pivot point to allow the triangle to fing a good surface along the curve. below is a photo of the jig.
Her is a close up of one end showing the triangle shaped block and the screw for the pivot point.
Here is the jig in place clamping on the curve. as the clamps are tightened, the table comes together. I then attach other clamps to prevent the top from buckling.

This last photo shows the table top being glued with a wide array of clamps. If you were wondering, I did not glue the two ends together so the table can continue to function as an extension table.
Here are two other repairs. The first shows a loose section being glued on to a foot and the second show a leaf being glued up where it had split.

I will post more photos as the project progresses so stay tuned!


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