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Refurb, Antique Walnut Table #1: The Problem

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Blog entry by Smitty_Cabinetshop posted 571 days ago 1524 reads 0 times favorited 23 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Refurb, Antique Walnut Table series Part 2: From the Bottom Up, Perhaps? »

The long and short of it can be presented in two words: Cracked Tabletop. But the table is old. Not a family heirloom of mine, maybe someone else’s at one time, but I only came by said table a couple weeks ago with one easy payment of $60 cash at a local auction. I recognized it as being made of walnut; it’s also what’s called a hall table, with a single drawer at one end. Drop leaf too. Couldn’t do without it, apparently, because I brought it home. So a few glamor shots.

Here’s a picture of the underside of the table, showing the wooden hinged drop leaf support and the glue block system holding the top to the aprons.

And a closer pic of said blocks, also showing the crack that is the problem that gives this blog entry a name.

From the underside.

From the top.

Lots to explore with this table. The legs have wheels I haven’t seen before. The top’s underside is scalloped; evidence of hand planing. Hand cut tongue and groove work on the drawer. And another construction detail that was a surprise to me. So, there’s exploration of the table as well as a solution to the ‘crack’ in the offing. I know, not a big deal for the pros on this site. But it’s a big deal to me, because I’d like to do a fix that allows the top to move (unlike the ‘glue it in place’ build style that didn’t figure for wood movement).If you’re interested, follow along. If not, no problem. Thanks for looking, more to come!

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive



23 comments so far

View Brit's profile

Brit

5107 posts in 1440 days


#1 posted 571 days ago

So the fact that they used pocket hole joinery and glue blocks to attach the top meant that they didn’t allow for movement and over time it cracked. Looks like you have to:

  1. Mark the location of each hinge so that you can re-assemble them correctly, then remove the leaves.
  2. Remove the drawer and unscrew the runners so you can get to all the screws securing the top.
  3. Tease off the glue blocks.
  4. Unscrew and remove the top.
  5. Joint, glue and clamp the top, taking care not to damage the rule joints.
  6. Re-align and clamp the top in position on the legs.
  7. Forget the original pocket screws and glue blocks and use L-shaped metal brackets with slots to allow for top movement across the grain.
  8. Re-attach the leaves in their correct locations.
  9. Give it all a good clean and polish and call it done.

Estimated time = 1 day.

Alternatively if the table is structurally sound, you could just throw a cloth over it and call it done. Just sayin’.

-- Andy -- Old Chinese proverb say: If you think something can't be done, don't interrupt man who is doing it.

View Jamie Speirs's profile

Jamie Speirs

4085 posts in 1453 days


#2 posted 571 days ago

Smitty follow I will
This is a great project that will make it an heirloom
for your family.
Jamie

-- Who is the happiest of men? He who values the merits of others, and in their pleasure takes joy, even as though 'twere his own. --Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

View Don W's profile (online now)

Don W

14611 posts in 1164 days


#3 posted 571 days ago

Hey Smit.
Another interesting restore. See if you can pop the blocks off the top(leaving then glued to the apron) maybe even use a flexible saw or saw all, just on one side.

glue the crack from the underside. Use air or a vac to get the glue through. Clamp using culls.

drill over size holes in the blocks. Screw with washers.

You can add some L brackets as Andy mentioned if you feel they are needed or the blocks split. You can also make some new wood blocks if you want to be more authentic.

-- Master hand plane hoarder. - http://timetestedtools.com

View Brit's profile

Brit

5107 posts in 1440 days


#4 posted 571 days ago

Of course if it was me, I would have to re-finish the whole table, but you already know that about me by now I guess. LOL.

-- Andy -- Old Chinese proverb say: If you think something can't be done, don't interrupt man who is doing it.

View Brit's profile

Brit

5107 posts in 1440 days


#5 posted 571 days ago

Looks like you’ll get some more turning experience too, making a new knob for the drawer. In fact you might as well make two, then you won’t have to worry about getting the new one to match the old one.

-- Andy -- Old Chinese proverb say: If you think something can't be done, don't interrupt man who is doing it.

View terryR's profile

terryR

2969 posts in 905 days


#6 posted 570 days ago

$60, huh? walnut…

I’ll give ya $80 for it as is! After YOU repair it, the Worth will be over my head. :)

Looking forward to the re-build…

-- tr ...see one, do one, teach one...

View poopiekat's profile

poopiekat

3556 posts in 2331 days


#7 posted 570 days ago

Was this a single-board top, Smitty?
It might be easier to section-out the cracked areas, then reassemble. I’ve done two tables like this in the past, with identical problems. In both of mine, the apron to leg m&t joints were bad, so after losing the inch across the top by sectioning out the top crack, I re-cut the aprons to match. Result was a pair of nice antiques, which I sold right off the truck at an antiques show.

-- Einstein: "The intuitive mind is a sacred gift, and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift." I'm Poopiekat!!

View Bluepine38's profile

Bluepine38

2876 posts in 1682 days


#8 posted 570 days ago

Nice find, now do you put a contrasting piece of wood in the crack, put in a matching piece of wood to allow
the table to retain its original dimensions, or just narrow the top by gluing it back together. Lots of nice choices
on this table. Those look like the original wood wheels, no plastic available then, do you keep them, modernize
them, or eliminate them. You could put a matching drawer in the other end or not. Will wait patiently while
you decide and follow your preference. Those that do not like your choices could just build their own version
from scratch. Please keep up posted, thank you for sharing.

-- As ever, Gus-the 75 yr young apprentice carpenter

View Jamie Speirs's profile

Jamie Speirs

4085 posts in 1453 days


#9 posted 570 days ago

Andy I think the broken knob is a feature unless
it is unstable
Nice new Avatar

jamie

-- Who is the happiest of men? He who values the merits of others, and in their pleasure takes joy, even as though 'twere his own. --Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

View Brit's profile

Brit

5107 posts in 1440 days


#10 posted 570 days ago

Jamie – I know it would be a feature in Smitty’s eyes, I just don’t know if Mrs Smitty shares his appreciation of the ‘lived in’ look. :o)

Glad you like the new avatar. I was fed up looking at my ugly mug. Now I’m anonimous, I can be even more crazy when the mood takes me. [Andy laughs his evil laugh]

-- Andy -- Old Chinese proverb say: If you think something can't be done, don't interrupt man who is doing it.

View Don W's profile (online now)

Don W

14611 posts in 1164 days


#11 posted 570 days ago

The jokes on us Andy. Every time I see your new Avatar I still see your ugly mug.

Just kidding of course.

-- Master hand plane hoarder. - http://timetestedtools.com

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile

Smitty_Cabinetshop

9575 posts in 1215 days


#12 posted 570 days ago

Lots of questions, but I only have my phone and the time to address one: the knobs are mortised into the face of the drawer / won’t budge. I’ve tried. So the chip off one knob base is a feature unless I get radical…

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive

View Brit's profile

Brit

5107 posts in 1440 days


#13 posted 570 days ago

Don I spent ages this morning looking for a response I wrote to a comment someone posted on my saw talk blog. I scrolled from the beginning to the end of the comments looking for my old avatar before I realised I’d just changed it. Anyhow, here is something to remember me by.

Photobucket

-- Andy -- Old Chinese proverb say: If you think something can't be done, don't interrupt man who is doing it.

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile

Smitty_Cabinetshop

9575 posts in 1215 days


#14 posted 570 days ago

“Estimated time = 1 day.”

Funny guy.

Where’s the fun in hurrying glue to dry? :-)

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive

View Dave's profile

Dave

11141 posts in 1437 days


#15 posted 570 days ago

I was all good with this blog til I scrolled down to comment and THE EYE FOLLOWED ME!
AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!
OK
I have composure now.
Smitty I love ole furniture restores. Can we have close up pictures of the hardware when you disassemble.
Great price and I am sure it will be a wonderful save.

-- Superdav "No matter where you go - there you are." http://chiselandforge.com

showing 1 through 15 of 23 comments

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