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Thursday, November 7, 2013

Biggs Mahogany Pedestal Dining Table (ca. 1960)

The Completed Table
 A recent piece to come through the shop was a reproduction mahogany pedestal table with three leaves. The table was made by the Biggs Furniture Company of Richmond, Virginia. Biggs specialized in quality reproductions of antique designs and was in business until 1974 when the company was acquired by the Kittinger Furniture Company. 

The table was made primarily of solid Honduran mahogany. The top had an inlayed band of satinwood around the perimeter and maple was used as a secondary wood where the pedestals attached to the tops. The original finish on the table was a lacquer which had faded and yellowed with exposure to sun light over the years. The mahogany wood beneath had also faded, removing the red mahogany tones from the table entirely.

It was the customers desire to try to give the table a more modern feel and as we talked over options she suggested the possibility of ebonizing the table. We looked it over and decided that by maintaining the satinwood border, the table would have nice contrast and so we decided to go through with this. In addition, the customer requested that we remove the brass casters (which were tearing up her floor) and replace them with wooden wheels. The process of ebonizing the table as well as the novel way of replacing the brass casters (executed by Jesse Melton) are documented below.

These first few photos show the table as it looked when it came into the shop. Between the deterioration of the finish and the bleaching of the mahogany, the contrast between the mahogany and satin wood was barely visible.


This close up shows the satinwood inlay around the top.
 After the finish was removed and all of the repairs were made and the surface prepared by sanding, the satinwood border was taped off to mask it from the black stain used to ebonize the wood. The masked top can be seen below followed by a few other similar photos.


 The following photos show the base and top after the stain was applied.

The brass casters which were causing damage to the customers floor were removed from the housing that attaches them to the table. The brass shoe that attaches to the leg and the housing were kept. In place of the brass wheels, wooden wheels of the same diameter and thickness were removed from another set of casters and modified so that they could be attached to the table's casters. Below are a few photos of this process.

This photo shows a jig created to hold the wood wheel in place while the center hole was bored out. The following photo shows a wheel in the jig. The next photo shows the bored hole in one of the wheels.

In this enlarged hole was inserted an aluminum sleeve. The sleeve helped the wood wheel from rubbing against the axle and wearing. The two photos below show the aluminum sleeve being cut to the proper length.

After they were cut, the sleeves were inserted into the wheels and set aside. The actual axle used was a brass bolt which was cut to length as seen in the photos below. The brass bolt was inserted through the housing and the wheel and then a brass acorn nut was attached on the threaded side of the bolt to keep it in place. the bolt was locked in place with locktite to prevent it from un-threading when in use. The beauty of this was that the bolt could be removed if one of the wheels were broken or worn and we provided an extra set of wheels if this happened.

This photo shows the completed caster assembly. the next photo shows all of the casters with the brass cleaned and the new wheels in place.

Back to the table, this photo shows the table with the tape removed from the satinwood border. This photo was taken during the finishing process.
The remaining photos show the table completed with and without leaves. It was a rainy day so no photos could be taken outside, but it looked really nice inside as well!