Project Log -- Antique Sideboard

Unknown Sideboard
Oak/Mahogany Construction with Birdseye Maple insets
Hand carved pulls and detail
(Late 19th Century?)

I've said it before and I'll say it again, repeat customers are the best validation there is.  This particular customer has some beautiful and interesting furniture in her home.  This is a large and heavily built, apparently handcrafted sideboard.  The owner believes that it once had a marble top that is now replaced with two planks that are heavily aged.  The finish overall is heavily distressed with many stains, chips, screw holes and other markings.

  We agreed to not refinish.  Instead, I am going to repair the numerous minor (and major) issues and resurface the existing finish by gently and carefully cleaning the existing finish, leaving the distressed portions intact.  Then piece will then be top-coated and hand-polished.

The finish appears to have been redone at some point in the piece’s history as there are varnish drips and stain mismatches that indicate previous refinishing.  The veneer is largely intact, except for the facial of the lowest (hidden) drawer.  Other major issues are chips and missing segments of milled trim and problems with wear and alignment on the drawers.

On the lower right hand side of the piece, the bottom strip of trim is missing.  Replacing this piece will involve locating or milling a replacement piece, fitting it and finishing it to match.

The two pictures above show damage to the half round at the base and the missing sides of the drawer trim.  Again, I'll have to either find a match or mill/carve it myself.

The picture above is a close up of the lowest drawer (hidden) and the damaged face veneer.  This will have to be removed and replaced.

 The drawer below is torqued out of alignment.  I'll have to disassemble and rebuild this one.  Check out the carved pulls.  It's beautiful work.

 All of the drawers need work.  The back of the hidden bottom drawer is completely missing and a strip of the bottom at the back is also AWOL.  I'm looking forward to using my Dovetail Jig on this fix.


I started by hunting for the trim pre-made -- that quickly proved a waste of time.   I'm coming to believe more and more that this is a one of a kind piece.  I'll keep searching, but I still can't find one like it anywhere.  
Anyway, I decided to mill the pieces myself.  It took a lot of setup and some trial and error (more error than trial),  but it finally got the pieces I made close enough to dial in with sandpaper and small rasps.

I also mended the crack in the top piece.  Epoxy to the rescue.  I'm thinking that it's a replacement piece (not original), so I might recommend that I refinish this piece to smooth out that crack.

UPDATE 02/17/2014

Well, I had a long weekend, and I was able to spend a good bit of time in the shop.  Here's some progress pix.
Dialing in the color match on the replacement drawer trim.  I'm close, but there's still work here.

The next few pictures are focused on rebuilding the quarter round at the base.  I'm incorporating new and old material.  It's a bit tedious and color matching will be a challenge, but it will be worth the effort.

Also, rebuilding and refacing the bottom drawer.  The back is rebuilt and the veneer is on.

I had to hand cut the pins on the originally handcarved dovetail corners.  

 Finally, the veneer is on and rough trimmed.  

Update 03/09/2014
This project is just about in the bag.  I need to do a little polishing and buffing, but this puppy is looking good.  Matching the old patina with the new trim pieces and balancing the finish across the whole piece was a unique challenge.  The only thing I wasn't able to fix was the warped drawer.  The twist is in the face and it will require stripping, steaming and clamping and refinishing to fix. It works as is and in the interest of maintaining the integrity of the piece, I'm going to suggest it be left alone.

I was also able to reconstruct the entire bottom trim piece, and I'm pretty happy with the match on the veneer of the hidden drawer.  I also cleaned up and lubricated the locks.  I was able to find a barrel key that was close enough to a fit that I was able to use a Dremel tool to make some slight adjustments.

The next two are a look at the replacement for the missing side trims on the bottoms of the decorative frames.

I replaced the side trim on the bottom drawer on both sides below 

The top was pretty rough but I was able to get it cleaned up nicely.

Below is a look at the replaced veneer and bottom trim on the hidden drawer at the bottom.

                     BEFORE                                                    AFTER


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