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 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.
This close up of the side rails shows a missing section on the left hand rail.
The foot board.
This photo shows the condition of the original finish. The burl veneer on the headboard was obscured by the old finish.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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