|The Completed Cabinet|
Recently I worked on a piece that is a bit of a mystery. It is an Oak cabinet that was made sometime in the early part of the 20th century. The cabinet has a large door that opens to reveal six drawers. The drawers all had bottoms that had holes drilled in them every three or four inches in a grid pattern. There is also a shadow of some pieces that cris-cross the holes in a x-pattern. The owner of the cabinet thought it might have something to do with an old record player, like a Victrola. The thing that first came to my mind when I saw it was that the holes had dowels in them at one time and that these dowels received bobbins of thread that were not in use. If this were true than the bobbins would have to have been pretty large in diameter and height and also the cabinet would have had the capacity to store many bobbins. If it was used for this purpose, it was likely used in a commercial setting.
All of that being said, I really have no idea what this cabinet was initially used for. The cabinet was made from Oak and portions of the case were veneered with book matched panels of Quarter Sawn Oak with a very pronounced grain pattern. If it was used in a commercial setting, I wonder why the manufacturer made it look so good?
The cabinet was in pretty rough shape when I received it. The finish was cracked and the top was marred with scratches and rings. In addition, the cabinet was missing a portion of the bottom of the case as well as two feet (one a carved lions foot) and it was also missing a drawer. Below are some photos of the restoration of this mysterious Oak cabinet.
The first thing I did was to remove the finish from the cabinet. Once that was done I set about the repairs and also making the drawer and the missing feet. To make the drawer, I disassembled an original drawer so that I could make copies of each individual component. The photo below shows the drawer disassembled. The blue tape shows me the orientation of each board for reassembly.
The front edges of the two side boards were dovetailed into the front of the drawer using a half blind dovetail. This means that the ends of the dovetails on the sides are concealed by the front of the drawer. These original dovetails wer produced by machine and so I faithfully reproduced the originals using my router. To do this I built a cross cut sled for my router that allowed me to move the edge of a board across a moving bit. I then set up the router in the table with a dovetail bit and cut my dovetails. Below is a close up of this operation folllowed by a shot taken from further back.
To create the carved foot, I traced the profile of the original (seen above in the photo below) and cut two sides of the block. The block is seen after the cuts were made in the photo below.