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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Quarter Sawn Oak Buffet (ca. 1900)

One of the most recent pieces to be restored in my shop is a quarter sawn oak buffet from around 1900. Before getting into the photos, a couple of notes on terminology!

Quarter Sawn- When I refer to quartersawn lumber that means that the log was sawn into quarters. If  you imagine the end of a log, the circle would divided up into four quarters, rather than sawing it into horizontal boards from the top down. subsequent cuts are made in a similar fashion so that the long face of each board is a radius of that original circle. The reasons for this are two fold. First, the growth rings on the end of each of those boards is basically going straight up and down. This means that the board is more stable and less likely to cup or twist or whatever. Second is the fact that in all woods this method of cutting wood exposes sections of the wood containing what are called medullary rays. These rays are often small and somewhat inconsequential to most people, but in certain woods they are quite pronounced. One such wood is Oak. If you take a look at the second  photo down you will see lighter wide bands passing somewhat diagonally across the grain of the board. These are the medullary rays or simply rays. This type of cut was used extensively in America in and around the turn of the 20th century. Two period styles that employed the use of this wood are the "Golden Oak" period and the "Arts and Crafts" period, of which Mission furniture is a part. With the decline of Walnut use in the latter part of the 19th century, Quarter Sawn Oak quickly became the wood of choice in factory made furniture in America.

Buffet- What is a buffet? When is a piece a buffet and when is it a sideboard or server? The term buffet is a french word used to describe servers and the form was brought to refinement in 18th century France. The term is synonymous with sideboard. So why did I call this a buffet and not a sideboard? Typically, I use the term sideboard when referring to larger items and something about this piece just says "buffet". It can easily and correctly be called either. Just to back up my claim, The 1897 Sears & Roebuck catalog refers to similar pieces in oak as Buffets (and sideboards). One other note from the catalog, A similar piece new at the time would set you back between $14.00 to $24.50. I guess there has been a little bit of inflation between then and now!

This buffet had some damage to the drawers and doors    
This detail shot of the top serving surface shows the medullary rays, as well as some damage to the top.
This photo shows one of the drawer bottoms being glued back together.
The edges of the veneered doors had become loose over time and needed to be glued again. The next two photos show this process.

This photo shows the joinery of the long drawer on the bottom being glued.
A loose piece of trim was reattached to the back splash in this photo.
All of the clamps attached to the case are holding down new stops for the drawers. Once the stops were glued in place they were stained to match. the case.
these next two photos show the top after it was stripped and sanded to remove rings and scratches, and then stained to match the case.

these last photos show the fully restored buffet. There are also some detail shots of the carving on the back splash.

1 comment:

  1. absolutely gorgeous!!!!! lovely work, love the pics of the process. are you selling this, or was it done for a client?