Restore Along
#9
  
I really enjoy the build-alongs.  So to add a little variety, I thought I would show a restore along.  I didn't take many during photos but will include the few I have.
The item of interest is a Davenport desk.  This is often referred to as a Ship Captains desk.  The top is a sloped writing surface faced in leather.  The top slides forward to provide room for the user's legs (leg?).  The drawers open on the right, but I have seen at least one other where the drawers opened on the left.  The interior has two small  drawers, the bottom two the four are false.  The knob on the lower left is removable and has a pin that engages a sliding block attached to the pull out pen storage.  Some call it a hidden drawer, but the drawer is full visible on the right, it just locks from the inside allowing the owner to secure their pens.  So lets start with some before and after pics.

   
   

You can see some severe moisture damage to the finish of the spiral spindles.  There are some large areas of missing unobtainium veneer, particularly the curved base on the right.  I was able to get a hold of some the unobtainium for twice the cost of the desk itself ($40 for the desk.)

   
   

The right side shows that the desk is missing it rear casters, has additional missing veneer, a triangular prior repair, and one of the drawers is missing an unobtainium wood keyhole escutcheon. I turned a new escutcheon from a failed knob replacement, drilled the holes and filed them together.  Think forged in fire bolster.  As I square the ends of the original veneer I kept the slivers and used them in other places.  In fact I harvested a large patch from elsewhere on the desk and moved it to the missing central piece on the front.  This enabled me to do a better color and grain match in such a highly visible place.  The curved veneer patch was cut, then boiled for 15 minutes, the patch removed from the water and rubber banded around a conveniently matching mallet.  This dried for about three days, then I used liquid hide glue to attach, as I did with all the repairs.  You can also see the original finish on the sides were moisture damaged as well.  My method is to clean, hit it with some heat from a paint stripping gun on low, then lightly go over the finish with denatured alcohol.  The idea is to blend/move the original finish around.  I usually end with a very light pass with a less than 1lb cut of shellac to rejuvenate so to speak, then a light polish with OOOO steelwool and wax.  I did not turn new knobs even though some of them have chipped edges.  I figure that is part of the history and character of the piece, and is part of its 150-70 year history.

Well enough for now.  I will continue the tour around the Davenport desk shortly.
Train to be miserable...
that way when the real misery starts you won't notice.
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#10
  Re: Restore Along by jppierson (I really enjoy the b...)
Continuing the tour....  The back wasn't too bad, but the lower left corner needed repair and the base veneer was split from scooting around without casters  Just a general clean, a little DNA, and shellac then Bob's your Uncle.
   
   

The left side took a little more effort.  I turned two new knobs out of unobtainium wood.  I used an iron and almost completely flattened the wrinkled veneer on the writing slope.  I wasn't able to completely reactivate the underlying glue, it is now relatively flat but still noticeable.  Ah well more character, you would be somewhat wrinkled too after a century and a half.  I suppose I could have gone the fully monty and removed the slope's side veneer, but remember I'm working with unobtainium, and I didn't have large sheets of the stuff.  Have you ever tried to resaw really hard old unobtainium?  I left well enough alone, besides that is the side against the wall.....

   
   

So what think you all?  This was a fairly easy restore, I didn't have to rebuild a bunch of stuff.  I did replace a drawer runner, installed a missing dust shield, repaired the front right curved caster surround before veneering.  I will leave you with the remaining tour.

   
   

Here is a detail of the wood repair on the caster surround.  Luckily the missing piece came with the desk.
   
   

Here is a view of the dramatic change once the heat gun was used to drive the moisture out of the shellac.  I finished this off with a smoothing/cleaning using DNA and a light coat of shellac.
   


Attached Files Image(s)
   
Train to be miserable...
that way when the real misery starts you won't notice.
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#11
  Re: Restore Along by jppierson (I really enjoy the b...)
OK, this is the last of what I have.

Just some of the stuff used during the process.  As well as the obligatory tools in action shots.  That is a 5-1/4C [attachment=23302] and a small plow plane from my secret santa a couple years back.. I used these to build the missing drawer runner and then slip in the missing dust cover.  Sliding in the cover was not easy, since I did not want to remove the edge banding on the right side in order to remove the dovetailed drawer separators.  I did have to re-glue some of the dovetailed joints.
   
   
   
   
   

I hope you enjoyed the restore along.  My wife really likes the desk, and I am really happy that she no longer uses the kitchen counter as office storage.
Train to be miserable...
that way when the real misery starts you won't notice.
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#12
  Re: Restore Along by jppierson (I really enjoy the b...)
Beautiful job!  I know I have neither the skill or patience to do such work, especially where shellac is concerned.  How many hours do you have in the project?
Mike


If you're the smartest person in the room, you're in the wrong room!

But not today...
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#13
  Re: Restore Along by jppierson (I really enjoy the b...)
(01-21-2020, 06:44 PM)gMike Wrote: Beautiful job!  I know I have neither the skill or patience to do such work, especially where shellac is concerned.  How many hours do you have in the project?

gMike said it all. Fantastic work, thanks for sharing.

g
I've only had one...in dog beers.
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#14
  Re: RE: Restore Along by gMike (Beautiful job!  I kn...)
(01-21-2020, 06:44 PM)gMike Wrote: Beautiful job!  I know I have neither the skill or patience to do such work, especially where shellac is concerned.  How many hours do you have in the project?

Thanks! I bought the desk in June and completed it in October.

I didn't keep track of the hours, wasn't in any hurry, but I it took probably 30 days to get all the veneering done. These weren't 8 hour days by any stretch. I would veneer a few pieces, clamp/tape and wait 24 hours, then do it again. When applying new veneer, I made the veneer thicker, then pared the patch to match the adjacent area. I ended up basically stripping the base molding while doing the repairs. So to blend colors I used some red-brown dye. I tried bleaching the new veneer to mimic oxidation of the old stuff but found it didn't make much difference. After sanding I cut through most of the oxidation, and the dye did a great job of making it all match. I didn't work on it every day either. Most days the veneering process was only 1/2 to 1 hour. Don't be afraid of shellac. It is a really easy finish to apply and work with. Shellac isn't the most durable finish, but most furniture isn't exposed to liquid. Shellac is easy to repair, and if needed adding another french polish thin layer really makes a repair disappear. Additionally, the new shellac is period correct and actually becomes part of the original finish. The leather top was also in poor shape. The lower right corner of leather as worn almost totally through to the substrate. I cleaned the old wax off then sanded the rough area lightly with 220. Then I used DNA to wipe down the top and move the original finish to the exposed unfinished leather. I applied additional shellac to smooth things out. I believe the top as worn through due to cuff links of previous right handed owners and tells the story of over a hundred years of use.
Train to be miserable...
that way when the real misery starts you won't notice.
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#15
  Re: Restore Along by jppierson (I really enjoy the b...)
Excellent. Restoration is an amazing art form. I have accused a member on another forum of having Elves that live in the shop walls and come out at night to do magic the recovery is so dramatic. I think you must have a few living in your walls as well ;-)
When I was young I sought the wisdom of the ages.  Now it seems I've found the wiz-dumb of the age-ed.


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#16
  Re: RE: Restore Along by GeeDub (Excellent. Restorat...)
(01-22-2020, 11:04 AM)GeeDub Wrote: Excellent.  Restoration is an amazing art form.  I have accused a member on another forum of having Elves that live in the shop walls and come out at night to do magic the recovery is so dramatic.  I think you must have a few living in your walls as well ;-)

I wish I had some Elves in the basement. Perhaps they would work for scotch and cigars. I would task them to clean, sharpen and organize between shop visits. I think one of the most dramatic changes is just cleaning, strip the old wax containing dirt, and apply new wax. I don't consider myself a renovator, more of a delayed maintainer. A few years back my wife and I attended the Saratoga Springs woodworking show and attended Joshua Klein's classes on finishes and restoration. I really liked his attention to doing work that uses the same tools and techniques of the original, to celebrate the history of the piece. I'm not a restorer or patina freak (is that too strong a term?) the stuff I work on isn't destined for a museum, just re-entry into the house where it can continue to be used.
Train to be miserable...
that way when the real misery starts you won't notice.
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