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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Bassett-Hooker Walnut Bedroom Set (Ca. 1924)

Recently I have been working on a bedroom set consisting of a full size bed, a chest of drawers and two end tables that were once two halves of a vanity. The set is veneered with book matched Walnut veneer accented with Birds-Eye Maple and Satinwood. The secondary wood used throughout is a mixture of Poplar and American Chestnut. On the back of the chest of drawers was a label that reads "The Bassett-Hooker Furniture Company. Martinsville, Virginia. Below the name is the name of the original owner stamped into the tag. This owner was the grandfather of the current owner.

When digging into the history of this furniture company I found a fascinating story. The Bassett- Hooker Furniture Company was started in 1924 by J. Clyde Hooker, Sr. Mr. Hooker was a 29 year old man with ties to the Bassett family who had earlier started the Bassett Furniture Company. Seeing that the town of Martinsville had fallen on hard times and that the town had high unemployment, he suggested starting a furniture company to help out the people of Martinsville. Land for the factory was provided by a local newspaper publisher while the capital to launch the business was provided by the community. The first line of furniture to be produced was a line of bedroom sets followed by dining room sets, etc. The company today is simply called the Hooker Furniture company and focuses mainly on imports.

When I first started to work on this furniture, I noted the fine veneers used on the piece, but I also couldn't help but to notice some odd mistakes and interesting techniques used to build the furniture. For example, one of the drawers of the vanity had the veneer misaligned so that the pattern was slightly skewed. At first, I dismissed these kind of oversights as shoddy craftsmanship, but after reading the story of the company, it was easy to imagine that the workers creating this furniture were new to the game and made a few mistakes along the way. There was another place where the inside of one of the vanity tables was veneered with Walnut showing that if a board could be re-used for another purpose, it was. The story of the early years of the Bassett- Hooker Furniture Company really helped to shed some light on these pieces.

As far as the restoration is concerned, I decided to remove the finish of all of the pieces. The bed had been refinished before and I felt that by replacing the existing finish with a French Polish, these pieces would look better than before. The bed needed new rails. The originals were missing and the replacements were in desperate shape! There was also some veneer loss and the vanity ends needed to be converted to end tables. Below are many photos of the work.

To start out with, here are a few photos of the pieces:

The end tables:
The chest of drawers (I forgot to take a photo of the piece prior to removing the finish!)
Here is the foot-board and head-board of the bed.

This is a photo of the tag on the back of the chest of drawers. Notice the American Chestnut it is mounted on. I hope to someday see this tree make a comeback!
The next few photos are of general repairs. The first two show the end tables getting their molding re-attached.

This photo shows some repairs to the foot-board.
Several of the drawers were loose, so I re-glued those.
Here is the Walnut selected for the side rails before it was milled.
Here are the side rails with the poplar slat supports being glued in place. They are also screwed to maximize the support.
As I stated before, the end tables are really two halves of a vanity. The connecting parts of the vanity and the mirror are long gone, and the customer has been using them as end tables for some time. To make that use permanent, we decided to patch the mortises in the legs where the center surface attached. Likewise, there was originally a backboard that fit into a recess in the tops. We decided to create new veneered back boards that were individual to each table. Below are the photos of this process.

The mortise on one of the legs.
the Poplar patch to cover the mortise.
The patch being glued in place. The same procedure was repeated for the other end table.
Here are the two back boards roughed out and attached to a board so that I can create the appropriate molding with a router.
After the molding was routed.
Book-matched Walnut veneer was then applied to each back board.
The next two photos show the veneered backboards.

On the foot board of the bed, the trim piece had a lot of veneer loss. rather than simply patch it, I decided to replace the Satinwood veneer for the whole piece. This first photo shows the damaged veneer.
This photo shows the application of the new veneer.
Here is the trim piece with the new veneer in place and trimmed
The hardware for the chest and the end tables has a Star of David surrounded by rococo c-scrolls. Her is a close up photo of one of the pulls followed by a photo of all of the hardware after it was cleaned.

Here are two photos showing all of the pieces during the application of the finish.

This last photo shows the bed set up. I set it up to fit new slats.
I will post photos of the completed set next week!

4 comments:

  1. I really love sculptor, I idolize them because of their amazing talent.

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  2. You are a true craftsman!
    I have a Hooker-Bassett #32 Cedar lined Robe armoire
    any idea on the age and value?
    Beau Clark 1peacefullwarior@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  3. Working on the same set myself minus the bed. I have the mirror for the original dresser if your interested.

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  4. Wow…outstanding service and products to meet our office needs. I Love all and the colors you choose are perfect. I want this furniture for my new house. Thanks a lot for sharing
    Dressing Table In Chennai With Prices

    ReplyDelete