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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Renaissance Revival Walnut Library Table (ca. 1870) Part 1

Recently I have been working on the restoration of a Renaissance Revival Library Table made around 1870. The table is made primarily of American Black Walnut and uses Poplar as a secondary wood. The secondary surfaces are veneered with Poplar and White Oak and the secondary wood on the drawer is made from Mahogany. This is a very nice example and was made with some attention to detail. The carving throughout appears to have been executed by hand and great pains were taken to give this table a finished appearance throughout. One particular example of this that I found interesting was that the underside of the table was made up of a mix of Poplar and Quartersawn Oak. Where the Poplar boards were used they were veneered with Quartersawn Oak so that if one were to look at the underside of the table you would see all Quartersawn Oak surfaces. This certainly is a lot of extra work but again, the cabinet maker was going for the look of a refined piece where no part was left untouched. Likewise, the use of finished Mahogany as a secondary wood on the drawer is a nice touch where a lesser piece might have unfinished Poplar or Oak.

The table was in pretty bad shape when I received it. All of the joinery was loose and in addition, the stretcher assembly below was badly damaged. There were also several pieces of missing trim that needed to be made. The top surface was covered with a piece of Naugahyde that was badly damaged and not original to the piece. The customer decided to have new leather installed which I will cover in Part 2 of this post. The condition of the finish was pretty good, but it was buried beneath a lot of dirt and old wax. I decided that this finish could be restored once it was thoroughly cleaned.

Here is a photo of the table as it came to my shop.

This photo details the condition of the Naugahyde top.

As you can see in the photo below, the table had some very nice carving on it.the detailed finial below is seated at the midpoint of the stretcher. this photo also shows the condition of the finish.

As stated above, the stretcher assembly was badly damaged. A large section of this stretcher was missing and needed to be patched. Below is a photo of the damaged area.

After cutting a patch to cover the damaged area, the patch was clamped in place and a scribe was used to mark its location on the board below.

The next step was to carve away the wood so that it could receive the patch. Once this was done the patch was glued in place. The photo below shows the entire stretcher assembly being glued and the following photo shows the patch being glued in place.

This photo shows the patch glued in place after the glue had dried and the clamps were removed.

The last step was to carve the patch to fit the profile of the stretcher. after this was done the patch was sanded. Below is a photo of the completed patch.

As I stated earlier, the joinery of the entire table was loose. To glue the loose joinery, I had to first dismantle the table and clean all of the old glue from the joinery. Here is a photo of the parts disassembled and marked for reassembly.

After the old glue was cleaned off, the table was reassembled with fresh glue. Below you can see the table reassembled.

One last repair was to replace missing trim around the front legs. Below is a photo of the molding stock I made that I used to make the trim pieces.

This detail photo shows the replacement trim being glued in place.

Meanwhile the top had several areas with loose veneer. The photo below shows the veneer on the top being glued in place.

Likewise, the underside of the top had several loose areas as well. The pieces of wood seen in the photo below were tacked in place to hold the veneer while the glue dried. Wax paper was put in place to separate the blocks and prevent them from getting glued to the table.

The last two photos show the table with the cleaned finish and new finish added to the old. The next step will be to apply the new leather to the top surface which will be detailed in the second part of this post.

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