Full Chisel Blog

March 31, 2009

Reversing Wear

This is a bureau or chest of drawers.  It has two glove boxes on top and those drawers are in good shape internally.  There are problems with the mahogany veneer on all drawers as well as the carcase.  The first part of the process is to replace all of the wood that has worn away over the years.

The top large drawer with the fancy double curved front has the most wear.  Here is a picture of the wear and the white birch used to fill in that which is missing.  I kept as much of the original as possible and only replace that which was missing.  I had to measure the height of the drawers to determine how much wood had been worn away.


This is the lacuna that has been glued in place.  After I shaped them, I used a toothing plane blade to score the surfaces to provide a key for gluing.  I also prepared the old surface with the tooth to flatten and remove any wax or soap that was used to lubricate the drawers.  This is an important step to get a good glue joint.


Now a couple of drawers had more significant damage but it varied.  This end had broken off at the groove in the drawer side that secures the bottom.


This end required I make a rabbit to secure the new piece.  The rabbet that forms the repair and groove had to be laid out and scored with a knife as it is angled.  I then used a chisel to remove a bit of wood, then used a rabbit plane to make the rabbit freehand.

I also had to remove some nails that were used to ‘repair’ the damage.  I would like to go on record to say that NAILS SHOULD NEVER BE USED TO REPAIR!  I will remove at least 20 ‘repair’ nails from this piece, already have nearly a dozen from the drawers.


The nail on the right missed the side so I could drive it out with a nail set.  The nail on the left did catch the drawer side, so I had to snip it before removing.


I could then remove the top part with needle nosed pliers and the lower section was now exposed so I could drive it out with a nail set.  Notice that the nail was also glued in place.


I also had to remove a bit of wood on a previous ‘repair’ to allow the larger nail to be removed.  This piece doesn’t get in the way, but I will remove it later as it overlaps the rabbit in the front.

In order to make the necessary rabbit for the new work to go into, I used a straight edge and knife to make the cuts with the grain.  I was able to remove all of the wood at once.  Marking out and planing the replacement piece took much longer.


Before I glued on the replacement piece, I removed all of the previous ‘repairs’.  I also had to make these wide repairs with dovetails on the front edge at the drawer front.

While I was working on the bottoms, I noticed that on a couple of corners they were cut off.


It might be difficult to see, but it is at the end of the rabbit on the bottom end of the drawer bottom.  The front is also has a rabbit to go into a groove in the back of the drawer front.


This is a better illustration of what was going on.  The corner was notched to prevent the end grain from splitting out.

This is a fairly involved restoration which I am doing for a friend of mine.  I am going to have to double up the veneer for repairs as the old stuff is much thicker.


1 Comment »

  1. Stephen,

    Very nice work I’ve got to say. I have never thought about doing such a repair on Wood Items.

    Then again, most of the stuff we have, are Cheap Ply or partical board, and not very easy to repair.

    But that’s eventually Going to change, spring is in, summer is around the corner, and wood will be in the house. I have Plans for a Duel Armoras with an entertainment center in the middle of them, for the bedroom.

    With handicapped accessibility, pull down Clothsing Racks for the higher Storage, Few Drawers, few lights for knicknacks, etc…

    Keep up the great work, Lookin forward to your other projects.


    Comment by Handi — April 1, 2009 @ 12:21 pm

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