Restoring Cedar

Hi, I'm new to the group, and I need some advice. My Dad was a very handy m an, and I picked up many good skills from him. However, I've not worked wit h cedar before, and I want to ensure there's not something important that I don't know about cedar before I proceed with this project.
I picked up a marvelous cedar wardrobe and hope chest at an estate sale for $100 total last week. (We're buying a house with less closet space and I'm improvising additional storage space.) The original maker signed his name on the bottom of each piece with a pencil, and dated it "May 1962". Any sug gestions or cautions on restoring these pieces would be appreciated, especi ally if you've worked with cedar before.
The wardrobe doors are made of several pieces of wood bonded together with glue. One of the seams on the right door has come apart, about 2 inches awa y from the hinges. I need to re-bond the two pieces together. I was told to use wood epoxy glue. Is that right?
The top of the chest has some smoky patches that look like surface wear. I' m hoping those will sand out.
Also, both pieces have several small scratches and dings. The challenge is the variegated colors of the cedar. Matching the colors with any kind of fi llers will be tricky.
Finally, I'll be adding shelves to the wardrobe, so we can store the stuff that we're now storing in our bathroom linen closet (which we won't have in the new house).
When all the repairs are done, I'll be coating the outside of both pieces w ith clear varnish.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 11/16/2015 4:36 PM, Gwen35757 wrote:

Welcome to the rec. Nice to see a fresh face ... and especially one who uses punctuation. :)
Photos of your projects and work are always welcome.
--
eWoodShop: www.eWoodShop.com
Wood Shop: www.e-WoodShop.net
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 11/16/2015 7:52 PM, Swingman wrote:

--
Jeff

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Monday, November 16, 2015 at 6:52:23 PM UTC-6, Swingman wrote:

with cedar before, and I want to ensure there's not something important th at I don't know about cedar before I proceed with this project.

I'm improvising additional storage space.) The original maker signed his n ame on the bottom of each piece with a pencil, and dated it "May 1962". Any suggestions or cautions on restoring these pieces would be appreciated, es pecially if you've worked with cedar before.

away from the hinges. I need to re-bond the two pieces together. I was tol d to use wood epoxy glue. Is that right?

f fillers will be tricky.

e in the new house).

Thanks for the replies. You can download JPEG pics of the project here:
https://app.sugarsync.com/iris/wf/D1291217_87634388_8147180
Thanks again, Gwen H.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 11/16/2015 8:19 PM, Gwen35757 wrote:

Excellent, that helps!
Since you're new, pay particular attention to the finishing advice offered by Robert, AKA "nailshooter41" ...
... or as some say, "Wobbit" (as in "Wobbit, you too esspensive!").
Not the only one here who's savvy on the issue, but for a lot folks here, our goto guy for finishing problems ... whatever he says, you can take to the bank.
Do this for a living and Robert's advice has got me out of more than one finishing bind.
--
eWoodShop: www.eWoodShop.com
Wood Shop: www.e-WoodShop.net
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Monday, November 16, 2015 at 6:52:23 PM UTC-6, Swingman wrote:

I got a laugh out of that one! No kidding... on all accounts. Welcome, Gw en!
I have a different slant on things from my experience. I have done a lot o f restoration and repairs and my approach is to be as minimalist as possibl e when repairing. You will probably get a lot of good advice here, but onl y you know your comfort level with your skills and what you are looking for as an end product.
When I restore for a client and it is a piece that is valuable to them, I t ry to keep the original design as original as possible, especially if it is a fine old piece (50+ years old!) made by hand. My approach would be to t ake the door down, clamp it and see of the old glue joints will close with some pressure. If they will, I clean out the joint with an Exacto style kn ife to clean off as much old glue and dirt from the surface as possible. I f possible, glue it, clamp it, and done. I use a quality yellow glue. Epo xy won't give you much more holding power in this instance as the inside of the joint will no be clean and not provide a completely bondable surface.
There are other techniques you could use. If you can close the joint but y ou are afraid the joint won't hold with glue alone, you can surface mount a cross piece of cedar and glue it across all the vertical members and screw the ends. Add coat hooks, and no one will be the wiser.
I have also filled cracks with epoxy if they aren't too big. You can color epoxy with artist's paints and do a pretty good job of hiding the joint. I have a real aversion to tinkering with someone's original work (as oppose d to a mass produced piece)and am just not personally comfortable with too tinkering or adjusting to a piece. If the rest of the joint is solid, you can fill the joint with epoxy, sand it down, and then finish as normal.
The smokey patches are most likely from being finished with some kind of ol d oil finish that has degraded for any manner of reasons. Incorrect cleani ng (furniture polish, furniture cleaners, furniture restoring products) and old age will make areas where the finish was applied more thickly discolor . After 50 years, it could be anything. You could of course check with al cohol for dissolution (indicating shellac if it melts), or lacquer thinner to see if it is lacquer. If you are going to sand it off, it probably does n't matter.
I never fill dents, scratches, bangs, etc., when restoring something like t hat. Those are signs of a good life, good use, and the piece looks to be i n pretty good shape so that means it meant something to someone, enough tha t they took care of it. So I lightly sand to knock the hard edges off the defects, then apply finish. No filling.
For a finish, apply what you are most comfortable using. On a piece that si ze, unless you are spraying lacquer or shellac would certainly require a bi t of skill to get a satisfactory finish. Since by design it dries rapidly, multiple coats mean multiple opportunities for problems.
You can search this group for different ideas. Some spray (me!)lacquers, p olyurethanes, varnishes, etc., and some have much better luck padding or wi ping finishes. Certainly if you have any questions about finishing someone here can help.
As a last bit, when I refinished a cedar chest for a friend that was a fami ly heirloom from the 20's, I renewed the inside of the cabinet with a disti lled cedar oil product. I used this brand
http://www.homedepot.com/p/Giles-Kendall-8-oz-Cedar-Oil-OIL008/203522859
At the time I bought it I had to get it online, but it was worth it. THE O NLY WAY to apply that stuff is to buy a sacrificial sprayer at the dollar s tore and spray the surfaces. If you brush, pad, rag, or do anything else t o apply it you won't get it on evenly and worse, you will run out in no tim e.
Hope all that helps. No doubt, more good thoughts coming your way!
Robert
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
snipped-for-privacy@aol.com wrote:

I agree with everything Robert said and would like to add that you may be able to lift dents by dampening them. If that doesn't swell them out, try steam via a damp cloth and iron.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

These are good points. If the wardrobe was built in 1962, it's probably glued with yellow glue, not hide glue or some other odd adhesive, so cleaning and re-glueing would be a good approach.
Treating epoxy as a crack filler in this case, rather than an adhesive, is also wise. I wouldn't use it if the joint can be closed with light clamping. But if the joint won't close or has to be forced closed, probably better to leave it open and fill it with epoxy. Sawdust(*) can be used to thicken the epoxy to a putty if necessary, to stop it running out of the joint. Note that epoxy will almost certainly be darker than the adjacent wood.
(* Lew will say "use micro balloons", but if you're not a boat builder you're unlikely to have ready access to them, whereas everyone has sawdust/sanding dust available).
John
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 11/16/2015 5:36 PM, Gwen35757 wrote:

So forget the fillers. Unless they are big holes, or deep scratches. Let the history shine through, or sand it down.
What you haven't said is what kind of cedar, and you may not be able to tell us.
Are you planning on stripping and refinishing, or just trying to touch up the look?
A picture of the overall shape, and a pic. of separated wood will help to ascertain the extent of repairs.
Please show pics somewhere and link them here. Just not facebook or instagram please. I don't use them and I'm sure many others here don't; and I'm sure some do.
I recently rebuilt a cedar chest from just the old slabs. It was coated in shellac , and because I built it for my son I needed a way to keep the beer and whiskey from removing the shellac, so I coated the top with lacquer. The point is that shellac may prove to be all you need, and is very easy to work and dries super fast. It will be fast enough to avoid the dust nibs often encountered in long drying oil based varnishes. If you use waterbased varnish the cedar will look very bland. Shellac and oil based finishes enhance the beauty of the wood.
see it here : http://woodchucker.imgur.com/
--
Jeff

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Thanks for the replies. You can download some JPEG pics of the project here :
https://app.sugarsync.com/iris/wf/D1291217_87634388_8147180
Thanks again, Gwen H.
On Monday, November 16, 2015 at 4:36:13 PM UTC-6, Gwen35757 wrote:

ith cedar before, and I want to ensure there's not something important that I don't know about cedar before I proceed with this project.

'm improvising additional storage space.) The original maker signed his nam e on the bottom of each piece with a pencil, and dated it "May 1962". Any s uggestions or cautions on restoring these pieces would be appreciated, espe cially if you've worked with cedar before.

way from the hinges. I need to re-bond the two pieces together. I was told to use wood epoxy glue. Is that right?

fillers will be tricky.

in the new house).

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 11/16/2015 9:18 PM, Gwen35757 wrote:

glue line. I would have to see the glue line personally to know whether it was hide glue or an aliphatic.
Do you have an handplane, or block plane?
If so clamp the door pieces together I may have to show you using pics if I can not articulate it well enough. Let me know if I fail.
first remove the piece from the hinges.
Then place the door and 2" piece on a workbench, saw horses or floor together.
Fold back the small 2" piece and align the previously glued edges . What you have done is given yourself a wider base to either hand plane, or sand. And by folding the piece you have complimentary angles, so even if you are not 90 in your planing, the complimentary angle will still create a flat door.
clamp these pieces together at both ends. find a way to support the board, and keep the edge oriented up. You want to be able to hand plane the glue off and leave a fresh clean piece of wood. If unable to handplane, you can put some 80 grit on a block of wood, and use that for the first few passes to remove the old glue. Then move to 100 and finally 120 or 150 grit.
Now you are ready to see how your new glue line will look after gluing. unclamp and arrange the door normally. If the glue line is nice and aligned great, lets move to glue and clamping. If not try to clean up the joint by repeating. It's ok if the middle of the board does not touch slightly. That's called a spring joint. In humid areas you want this. In Arizona it won't matter as it is always dry. wood dries first at the ends, so a spring joint keeps the joint tight and prevents the ends from splitting during dry times where the wood dries at the ends and therefore shrinks first.
if it's even or sprung it's good. If the ends are not joining, you need to correct (as for the reasons described above).
If its ready for gluing, glue it using aliphatic (yellow, or white elmers). Clamp as many clamps as you can to pull the joint , protect the wood with either cork protectors, small piece of soft wood, even pieces of leather or vinyl, anything to prevent the clamps from leaving their mark on the door. Oh before you tighten everything up make sure the glue has not allowed the pieces to shift. Use a block of wood and hammer on the block to coax the pieces into alignment. So work the clamps, first firmly tightened, then fully after coaxing the work. Check again while tightening. Clamping should be done one facing up , next facing down, next up. And figure about every 4-6 inches depending on clamp type. If you are using pipe clamps, put some packing tape on the clamp once adjusted to size so the glue and black pipe don't cause rust.
When the glue is starting to cure it becomes like rubber cement balls. this is a good time to use a chisel, or spackle blade to remove the excess glue. it will not leave a stain at this point and comes off nicely. If you try washing it off while wet it will smear and possibly create a bigger mess.
That's all there is to the door repair.
I'm sure when I re-read this tomorrow, I'll go what!!!!. But others will probably correct me or offer some other advice.
--
Jeff

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Thanks so much for the helpful advice! I appreciate it so very much. I will let you know how it goes. Hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving.
Best wishes, Gwen H.
On Monday, November 16, 2015 at 4:36:13 PM UTC-6, Gwen35757 wrote:

ith cedar before, and I want to ensure there's not something important that I don't know about cedar before I proceed with this project.

'm improvising additional storage space.) The original maker signed his nam e on the bottom of each piece with a pencil, and dated it "May 1962". Any s uggestions or cautions on restoring these pieces would be appreciated, espe cially if you've worked with cedar before.

way from the hinges. I need to re-bond the two pieces together. I was told to use wood epoxy glue. Is that right?

fillers will be tricky.

in the new house).

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Related Threads

HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.