Furniture: Napoleon III style Secrétaire

  • Material: Oak, Mahogany, Brass / Veneer: Mahogany, Ebony

A writing desk with ebony and brass inlay. A cylinder cover slides open when the table is pulled out. It had splits on the surface, some inlaid ebony and brass were loose or missing, and parts of mahogany veneer had also broken off. The movement of cylinder was stiff.

I removed old polish layers, and replaced missing veneer and brass strips. I filled splits with massive mahogany, took care of the movement of the cylinder. I polished it again with shellac.

The cause of splits on the surface of veneer lies in the wooden base which is restricted in movement until splits relieve the stress. These splits affect the veneer surface too.

Inlaid metal can loosen from veneered furniture because of less bonding strength between wood and metal, and lesser capacity of movement than wood.

There is a difficulty to inlay metal because of heat conduction which deforms thin sheets and strips of metal while animal glue is used hot and clamped with heated block. Moreover, friction heat by sanding makes the metal warm and reactivates the animal glue, resulting in the metal inlay to come off again. There is an alternative animal glue which has a very high glueing effect; fish glue modified for cold use.

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Furniture: Empire style Commode

  • Material: Oak, Mahogany, Brass / Veneer: Mahogany

The veneer had huge damage on all drawer fronts and carcass rails. It all had to be removed. It was also hard to pull out the drawers because of wear and tear of runners. I needed to re-shave the drawers as well. There were splits on side panels and drawer bottoms.

I removed the polish layers and veneer. I prepared new veneer for the full length of the front surface and laid them out successively according to the pattern of grain. 7 drawers show continuously a whole grain of Mahogany. I replaced the damaged runners by new runners and shaved drawers in order to regain the function. I filled splits on side panels and bottoms of drawers with massive wood, and polished brass mounts. I modified the colour of new veneer by using dichromate and applied French polishing.

Removing the remaining old polish layers is in general the first thing to do on restoration projects. Except in the case of a partial restoration or when the value of the antique depends on its patina.

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Furniture: Swedish Salon Chair

  • Material: Tiger Wood

This seat rail has a veneered surface.

I removed former varnish and replaced missing veneer pieces. I glued the loose crest rail and back post anew and modified the colour. French polishing was applied.

Furniture: Round Cabinet

  • Material: Pine, Cherry, Oak / Veneer: European Walnut, Oak

A veneered cabinet in walnut containing 4 oak pillars, a marble table top and inlayed “rose des vents” (compass rose) on round surfaces.

I removed old French polishing layers and replaced missing veneer. I removed blisters and glued loose veneer. I finished with French polishing.

Additional information about veneered furniture: animal glue is used to glue veneer. Animal glue was the traditional adhesive before white glue. There are some different kinds of animal glue. To glue veneer, hide glue is chosen because of its elastic bonds. Wood will always keep moving according to atmospheric relative humidity, and hide glue has the flexibility to follow this movement. Recently, the regulation of room temperature by heating systems is responsible for super dryness in winter, resulting in splitting wood and perishing animal glue.

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