Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Late 1700's Dresser Gets an Overhaul

This piece was bought back East and damaged when it was shipped out
to Los Angeles.

It's an antique dating back to the late 1700's, made
out of pine, has a veneer top to it, and the finishing coat on it is
shellac. There were several scars on the top from previous wear.

Pine is a light, porous wood, and tends to "breath" when it goes
through humidity changes. Enough direct sun light, and the wood will
perspire. This moisture will actually work its way up through the
wood and then up through the shellac, creating small bubbles.

I repaired the piece first, re-gluing the broken legs, then, with the
one leg that had a missing section, I simply stained it to match the
rest of the leg. Because the stain is dark, the missing piece is not
even noticeable.

I replaced the back entirely with a new piece of
1/8" plywood. The top had some veneer pieces that had chipped off.
I glued those down, into place. There were a few missing pieces that
need to be replaced, but matching today's veneer with that of two
hundred year old veneer can be frustrating, if not impossible, so
like the missing leg piece, I opted to stain it to match.

Not one tool touched this piece when it came to removing the
shellac. Shellac removal is a long laborsome process, using a
solution of alcohol mixed with lacquer remover, and then rubbing out
the finish with a lot of elbow grease.

Once I got all the shellac off, I gave the dresser two coats of
stain. The sides were easy. They got a Mahogany Stain to match,
followed by a coat of Amber Shellac.

As for the top, the trim is American Walnut, and the center is
Golden Pecan.

I wanted to use the Amber Shellac on the top.
It would have given it a rich look, along with removing some of the
flaws and scars, but because the piece was going to get some direct
sunlight on it during the day, instead I went with Marine Varnish.
Not something I would normally use, but given its new location, I
thought this would be the least problematic. Each coat (3) was
sanded down with 400 grit sand paper. For the final coats (2), I
thinned the finish down with Mineral Oil by half, using 1200 grit sand

The owner wanted the pulls left alone.

And there you have it... a pine dresser from the late 1700's restored
and sitting in a Century City high rise.

No comments:

Post a Comment