The other day, I trashpicked two dishware cabinets with a lot of nice
features-- intact glass doors, nice finish, mahogany, curved doors, and
lots of other things. While I _currently_ plan to simply clean them up
and use them for now, I'm considering a full-scale restoration project
in the future.
Now, I've done some restoration in the past (see
http://www.briansiano.com for a Chest of Drawers refinishing project).
But this may require some serious disassembly and veneer replacement. So
I'd like to ask for some information.
The big question is the loosening of glues. I'd like to be able to
remove veneers without damaging them, and there may be some
mortise-and-tenon joints that need disassembly. Can someone point me to
a good web site with information on how to do this?
Thanks in advance.
Hi, Brian. Nice looking work on the website.
I have been doing finishing/refinishing for some time and have found
no products that will remove veneer without damage. I have removed
veneer unintentionally, but never on purpose. It isn't made to come
off, and the veneer was no doubt installed over a subpar surface.
Even veneer repair is an art. Small repairs are a challenge, but big
repairs simply don't work. And taking off a flitch that is probably
about 3/32" to 1/16" on most pieces if too much to be able to do
successfully. On small place where the glue sticks and you are
toast. A splintered or cracked edge in veneer will cause untold
repair problems in matching grains, finsihes, coloration, etc.
I have HEARD (not SEEN) that there have been successes in taking
dovetailed drawers apart by using a heat gun and carefully heating the
joint over a period of time, then tapping the drawers apart. If the
drawers are solid though, I don't know why you would do this.
BUT.... if you find any information on how any of these techniques you
ask of can be successfully employed, I hope you post some info.
Oddly enough, one dovetailed drawer is coming apart, but that won't be
hard to fix.
As for M&T joints... well, chances are, I won't have to disassemble any.
But it's sad that it means I won't be able to remove and repair/replace
a panel in a frame. I have a few doors in my house whose panels could
use some repair.
Still, if I _had_ to disassemble an M&T joint, I could probably cut
through the tenon and reassemble with a floating tenon.
Thanks for the word on removing veneer-- before I tried to do it, that
is. (Again, it's a disappointment, as I just acquired a dining room
table top with marvelous veneer, and it would've been a great source for
replacement veneer for other projects. Oh, well: live and learn.)
I have a lot of books on refinishing and restoration and they go from
easy to understand and use, to just plain silly in detail and work,
unusable because they are just impractical. The latter are rarely
If I were you, I would look at your local half priced or used book
store for books. I have found that I have a lot of books and while I
have read them all, after a point you are doing well if you pick up
more than a pointer or two from some of them.
That being said, a refinishing/restoring book is a good thing to have
as it covers everything from wood refinishing and stain removal, to
actual structure repair (like a chair or broken cabinet face) and
painting. But like I said, no one book seems to cover everything.
Here's a couple of pretty good books that are nicely done and cover a
lot of wide territory, but I don't know if they are in publication - I
got mine at the used book store.
"The Furniture Guys Book" - Joe L'Erario and
"The Weekend Refinisher" Bruce Johnson
After your project is stripped, you are now down to finishing. A must
in the library, an oldie but goodie, the one that started me thinking
outside of the box of thinking I was doing something special by
learning how to thin varnish:
"The Woodfinishing Book" - Michael Dresdner
(this book can be found cheap - it came out '92 and was so popular it
had something like three printings)
It has been followed by
"The NEW Wood Finishing Book" by the same author. Another great book
Another great book:
More Finishes and Finishing Techniques" from the Best of Fine
Woodworking Magazine. This book has discussions on dying, staining,
applying lacquer, application techniques, making your own finishes,
etc. With all the pictures in it, it makes the concepts easy to
understand, and I would put this in my must have finishing book list.
Another book that is odd, but really great is "Finishing, Methods of
Work". The editors of FWW let Jim Richey (credited as the author)
sift through 25 years of tips sent in by readers of all skill levels.
Some of the tips are absolutely ingenious. When you don't train
someone on how to think about doing something, they will come up with
their own solutions. Some tips are just one sentence, and others are
three or four pages. You will marvel at the useful, easy ways folks
have come up with to solve difficult problems. This book covers
everything from lighting in a finishing room to using an eyebrow
pencil for color matching when refinishing.
Hopefully a few denizens of this group will chime in with their
favorites books as well.
It takes practice to refinish well, but it can be really fascinating.
It seems to be going out of vogue again, but all that means is the
used book stores should have a bunch of books from time to time.
Hope you stay with it and let us know how you are doing.
These guys had a show on PBS that ran on Saturday just before NYW.
They guys approached finishing/refinishing/upholstery much like Norm
approaches his work, straight forward and simple.
Often thought they should have been brought in to do the finishes for
I watched their show, but they got a little too silly for me on
occasion. That was sad because their book reflects how talented they
really are. But I bought mine at Half Priced Books for less than $10
at the publisher's discount table.
I like Norm, I really do. It would be harder to find anyone that has
his breadth of knowledge and expertise.
But his weak point has always seemed to me to be his finishing and
woodturning. With his finishing, he could actually put on better
finishes in an easier fashion if he wanted. His finishing has always
been a head scratcher to me, my only conclusion has been that he
really belongs to another school of finishing than I do.
One aspect to the silly. One of my old traditions was to see Stanley
Kubrick's movies, first day, first show. When I went to see _Eyes Wide
Shut_, the Furniture Guys-- whose TV sketches showed a deep appreciation
for Kubrick's movies-- were sitting a few rows ahead of me.
They didn't like the movie.
Question is, How old is this pece of furniture. If it is old and they
used hide glue to asseble the joint. Then a heat gun blow dyer will
loosen the glue and it will come apart.. If it is newer then it will
be harder to take apart.
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