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Thursday, September 29, 2011

Ed Roos Cedar Blanket Chest Model # 5205 (Ca. 1930)

Sometimes a little detective work really pays off. I recently restored a blanket chest for a customer. The chest looked to be an early 1930's chest in a Jacobean style ( this style, especially with turned feet, was popular in the early to mid 1930's). The chest was void of any stamps or makers marks and I assumed it was probably a Lane chest form Altavista, Virginia. While working on the chest I discovered on the bottom of the chest the numbers "5205". I entered this number and cedar chest into Google and found out that this chest was a chest made by the Ed Roos Cedar Chest Company of Forest Park, Illinois. For more on the history of this company and to view some other examples, follow this link:


Here are links to some photos of the Ed Roos Factory:



The chest I was working was made from cedar, with poplar as a secondary wood and walnut veneer. It had some structural issues as well as finish issues. The legs were loose and one fell off entirely in the shop. The chest was also missing its front rail between the front legs. The finish was damaged in several areas and because of this (and the customers desire to have the piece a different color) we decided to strip the finish off. Below are several photos of the work and the finished product.

Here is a photo of the chest when it entered my shop.
This detail shot shows some damage to the finish on the top.

Here is a photo of the broken leg!

This next photo shows the base of the chest being glued in place.

A detail shot of the foot being glued back in place.

In this photo, you can see the new front rail being attached to the chest, as well as the gluing of some more loose joinery.

This photo shows the chest stripped and sanded, ready for stain and finishing.

The color of the stain chosen was based on a sample given by the customer. This photo shows the chest after staining.

The next three photos show the chest during the finishing process. This is followed by four more photos of the chest completed.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Eastlake Bedroom Set (ca. 1880) Part 1

Before getting into the details of the bedroom set which I am currently restoring, I thought it might be a good idea to shed some light on the Eastlake style in America. The Eastlake style of furniture is named after Charles Lock Eastlake (b.1836- d.1906) who was an English architect and interior designer and part of the larger arts and crafts movement in England during the second half of the 19th century. His book, Hints on Household Taste in Furniture, Upholstery and other Details, Published in 1872 took its inspiration from Gothic motifs and called for a return to hand made furniture using clean lines and largely rectilinear forms. Eastlake's belief was that Victorian furniture had grown to be overly decorated and that the designs demonstrated in the Rococo and Renaissance Revivals were too flashy, and that furniture design was being dictated not by artistic inspiration, but by what the latest machines were capable of mass producing in the furniture factories of the day. Eastlake and others like him called for a reform in furniture design which pointed towards a more "honest" look, which moved away from the curvy, floral, ornate designs of the previous decades.

The irony of this is that his designs called for straight line moldings and shallow incised carvings, both design elements which were easily produced by the furniture factories of the late 19th century. What resulted was an explosion of "Eastlake" style furniture in America during the last 20 years of the 19th century. While Eastlake himself distanced himself from this approach to his earlier designs, the furniture was widely accepted by the American public, and the major furniture hubs of the late 19th century produced bedroom sets, arm chairs, tables, and just about every other form of furniture in mass quantities.

The furniture I am presently working on is a bedroom set made in one of these furniture hubs during the late 19th century. The primary wood used is black walnut and the secondary wood used throughout is poplar. Each piece in the set employs fine walnut burl veneer as a focal point. What I find so interesting about this furniture style is that it is one of the earliest to be made entirely in a mass production setting and each element is produced by machine. Even the dovetails on the furniture are made by machine. The drawer joinery in fact, is not a dovetail at all, but is called a Knapp Joint. for more on the Knapp Joint, follow this link to an earlier entry on this blog:


The walnut used on these pieces has beautiful grain and the whole set has great potential. The repairs to the pieces were extensive, so I have decided to break them down into three sections, each section detailing the repairs made to one piece.

The Bed

The finish for all three pieces had deteriorated to the point that I decided to remove it. The upshot of this is that the stain that was in the finish would also come off, showing off the natural color and grain of the walnut.

There were also several repairs that needed to be made to the bed prior to the new finish being put on. Below are some photos of the bed as it came to me and the repairs made to the bed.

The head board.
The side rails.

This close up of the side rails shows a missing section on the left hand rail.

The foot board.
This photo shows a broken section on the foot board.

This photo shows the condition of the original finish. The burl veneer on the headboard was obscured by the old finish.
This photo shows the same veneer after the finish was removed.

This photo shows some molding which had fallen off of the side rail being glued back in place.

The next series of photos show the repair to the missing section of the side rail. Since I had one complete side rail, I was able to make a template by tracing the existing rail onto foam board. After that I cut it out to make the template below.

After I figured out how much of the template was necessary, I traced the pattern onto new wood as seen in the photo below.

This photo shows the template and the new wood cut to shape

Here is the new wood being glued into place.

This photo shows the finished patch after sanding.

As seen in an earlier photo, the foot board was missing a portion of the molding.

This shows the molding cleaned and squared off to receive a patch.

here is a photo of the patch being glued in place...

...and the patch ready to be carved.

This photo shows the head board during the sanding process.

Here is the bed set up to check for loose joinery. The whole bed was tight and the slats were numbered for the best possible fit. The bed is also sanded in this photo and ready for the new finish.

The Chest with Mirror
 These first two photos show the chest and the mirror as they came to me.

In order to refinish the mirror frame, it was necessary to remove the mirror back and glass. When I did this I found this piece of paper glued to the inside of the back. The paper shows the names of several towns in Ohio and their population numbers. Below is a photo of the paper followed by two detail shots that are pretty legible.
The secondary wood in the mirror frame had cracked and warped behind the veneer causing the veneer to tear. This photo shows this section being repaired.
The interior runners for the chest were severely worn .the bottoms of the drawers were also worn. the next few photos shows the repairs made to the drawer runner system.

This photo is of the interior runners removed from the carcass of the chest.

The wear was due to the bottoms of the drawers rubbing wood away, so once the interior runners were removed, the worn wood was cut away and replaced with new wood. Below is a photo of the new wood before it was glued in place.

This photo shows all of the interior runners having new wood added to them.
While the glue was drying on the interior runners, I turned my focus to the drawer bottoms. To display the amount of wear on the drawer bottoms, I put a square up to a drawer side in the photo below. The bottom of the drawer should run parallel to the square and perpendicular to the drawer front.
I removed the damaged area of the drawer by standing the drawers up on end on the table saw. the next two photos show this process. The saw was stopped for the photo!

Once the worn wood was removed, I glued new wood in it's place. This process was done for the chest and the wash stand. Below is a photo of all of the drawers being glued up.

The photo below shows the interior runners with the new wood in place. It is hard to believe, but all of the wood in this photo is poplar. the new wood was stained to match the old.

The next  two photos here show the interior runners being glued in place. I use pieces of wood wedged in place to "clamp"  the interior runners in place while the glue dries.

This photo shows the drawers after the new bottoms were glued in place.
Here is the mirror frame after the sanding was completed.
And this photo shows the chest after sanding with the repaired drawers in place.

The Wash Stand

The wash stand got the same treatment as the rest of the pieces, but the least amount of photo documentation! I did make several repairs to the doors and  the drawers, but I only have a few photo to show for it. One change I made to the stand was to remove an inappropriate glass knob that was attached to the door. I had a suitable brass turnbuckle which was fitted to the chest and looks much more appropriate.

This first photo shows the wash stand as it came to me.
This detail shot shows some loose joinery on the door which was repaired.
This photo shows the wash stand repaired, sanded, and ready for finishing.

It should be noted that the chest and the washstand have marble tops which are not pictured in these repair shots. They will be displayed in the photos of the completed pieces. My next post will show the finishing of these three pieces.