Repairing an Accent Table

My wife bought an accent table at a local thrift store yesterday. She hesitated on buying it because it needed some work but I assured her that I could fix it quickly.

When we got it home, I examined how to repair the stretcher and make the legs not so wobbly. It seems that someone else tried to repair the stretcher in the past with no luck.

After popping off the glue blocks, I noticed that the only joinery on the legs was a dowel rod and some glue. It’s no wonder why they wobbled. I’m not sure how old the table is but it’s made from mahogany and the fasteners are straight slotted screws. My guess would be around the 1940’s but that’s just a guess.

If I was to restore this table properly, I’d used mahogany for the stretcher and make it similar to the original but I’m by no means a professional furniture restorer. If anything, I’m closer to the craftsmen you see on Flea Market Flip where people buy a $40 wheel barrow at an antique show, turn it into a coffee table and sell it at a New York City art show for $450. Except, I don’t do that dramatic transformation on pieces and don’t get anywhere close to those prices. (Personally, I think that show is fake). My wife will eventually paint the table so I just grabbed some scrap wood.

I grabbed some red oak and planed it down to 3/8″ then drew some arches on it with my french curve. Then it was onto my band saw and spindle sander to cut and sand the stretcher to shape. I just whipped this shape up in my head without much thought. I think it’ll do fine.

To break the edges of the stretcher and give it curves, I used my specialty scraper with various radius’s cut out and scraped the edges to shape using the 1/2″ radius.

Cutting the piece to proper length took a little trial and error, but I eventually got it to seat in the mortises with the legs being perpendicular to the top when the table was flipped over.

Then I grabbed some scrap pieces and glued and pinned hefty glue blocks onto the legs to hold them to the top better.

Here’s the table all glued up waiting for paint. My wife will paint the table either white, or black, or green, or duck egg, or whatever. I’ll have to wait and see which one she picks. I’ll throw a picture up when she’s done. Merry Christmas!

UPDATE 1-20-20; Anita painted it white with a stencil on top.

Empire Dresser Veneer Repair

I’ve been working the past couple of weekends on an old empire dresser my wife bought at an auction a couple of months ago. After we got the dresser home, we noticed that the dresser had some old repairs on it. It also had a poor stain job that looked like it was sprayed on with a paint sprayer since it was covered in orange peel. So I stripped off all of the stain with Soy Gel paint stripper and wanted to fix some the repairs.

At the top of the dresser was this veneer repair. What the original guy who repaired the dresser was trying to accomplish I’m not sure, but I believe that what was underneath this veneer at one time was a lock mechanism to lock the top drawer. The lock was long gone and we had no intentions of adding the lock back in, so I decided to fix this area of the dresser with a new piece of veneer.

The original veneer on the dresser was made from a piece of crotch mahogany. I didn’t have any mahogany veneer on me so I decided to fill it with a small piece of sapele. Sapele is often considered a poor man’s mahogany being about half the cost. Plus I really didn’t feel like buying an expensive piece of mahogany to fix this little area. The good thing about this repair is that it was dead center of the case so any new repair would still be symmetrical on both sides even if it didn’t match perfectly with the rest of the dresser.

I used a card scraper and ran a utility knife down the scraper scoring the veneer. I then pared away the rest with a paring chisel. After all the wood was removed, I flattened out the rest of the area as best I could so the new piece of veneer would sit flat.

After measuring the area, I cut a new piece of sapele from a scrap board and dried fitted in place. I gently planed across the face to level it with the rest of the veneer making sure I didn’t cut into the old veneer. After everything fit, I glued and clamped it to the dresser.

The piece fit but I wanted to match the color of the original mahogany veneer. I took another scrap piece of sapele and experimented with a few colors of water soluble dyes to see how well I could match it up to the original veneer. After a few attempts, I decided to use a couple of coats of Early Brown American dye with a very light coat of Mahogany stain.

The color turned out well. Not a perfect match but well enough. Once I get the drawers done, my wife will apply a few coats of hemp oil to bring out the natural beauty of the wood. I’ll post a picture when the dresser is done.

Removing a rusted bolt on a Stanley plane

I’ve cleaned up a lot of planes over the years and most of them come apart pretty easy. However once in a while I’ll get one that’s a bugger to take apart. 

This Stanley No 5 I bought was pretty rusted when I picked it up. In fact the only reason I bought it was because the rosewood handles were in nice shape. I as took it apart, one of the bolts that holds the frog down was seized. I sprayed it with BP Blaster several times and tried numerous flat-headed screw drivers to loosen it with no luck.

I knew it was lost cause to save the bolt so I ended up drilling a 1/4″ hole through the top of the bolt and then use a 5/16″ drill bit to widen the hole.

Once the bolt was weakened, I used a cold chisel and a hammer to smack the head of the bolt off and then I was able to remove the frog.

The only part of the bolt that remained was the bottom half that was still screwed into the bed.

I gently unscrewed the threads with some channel lock pliers making sure the threads wouldn’t break off in the bed.

I have a lot of spare bolts from Stanley planes I have taken apart over the years so finding a suitable replacement was a breeze. Not the prettiest Stanley No 5 but with a coat of black japanning, it would look a lot better. Since the body of the plane is so rusty and pitted, the blade will need to be replaced since it too is pitted.

Repairing a Desk’s Legs

My wife Anita won this desk at a local auction a couple of weeks ago. She loved the curves of the desk and wants to use it for sewing. What she’s going to sew I have no idea but that ‘s what she wants it for. It was in decent shape with a few spots where the veneer needed to be glued down and the leg needed to be glued back to the frame but that’s easy stuff to fix. What really needed attention were the two legs in the back that were missing part of their feet.

More than likely, sometime in the past the desk sat in some water and both back feet became unglued from their leg. I knew Anita was planning on painting it so I just grabbed some straight grain cherry about 1″ thick and glued it onto both back legs.

Once the glued dried, I started filing away the wood trying to recreate the swoop of the pad. Since the bad legs were in the back, it wasn’t entirely necessary to make perfect matching feet with the ones in the front since no one would really see them while the desk was against the wall but I still wanted to give it my best shot.

I used a variety of rasps and MicroPlanes to shape the curve into the foot. I’ve made cabriolet legs before so I had a basic understanding of how to shape them. Once the general shape was created, I drew the bead onto the blank and used my Dremel to carve it in.

After shaving was completed, 80 and 150 grit sandpaper finalized the foot. I was quite pleased with the results.

One foot down, one to go. It took about 30 minutes for me to finish one foot listening to the Bengals game on the radio.

After I was done with both feet, I flipped over the desk to see how it looks. Not too shabby. Once the desk is painted no one will know that the feet where redone. Anita was impressed as well. She didn’t think I would have been able to match the two in the front. I guess I’m good for something.