My client like the last conversion so much, they want to do another, this time an old oak icebox but with structural issues that need to be addressed first.
It seemed like an interesting project, so I took it on with a caveat; if I could fix the cabinet defects, we could carry on from there. This was my concern(s):
The failed joints in the door(s) didn’t concern me to much and replacing the swinging toe panel was a slam dunk. The failed glue line in the top had me concerned because the previous restorer had screwed and nailed the top down on the topmost side rails with failed tongue and groove joints (or had caused the failure). The glue line on the top was “bondo’d” in an attempt to hide the 3/16” gap.
I had hoped to just build a new top, but the client wanted to retain the existing top with it’s holes, dings, and scratches to retain its “patina”. Ok, there seemed to be a lot of patina to go around. I popped the oak plugs, unscrewed and gently pried off the top. After cleaning up the old glue joint, I attempted to re-glue the top but found that in order to close the joint line on the top, there was about a 1” concavity in the top. I reduced the concavity to ~3/8” by leaving less than a 1/16” gap on the top mating surface (by adjusting the pressure on the clamping cauls). Not wanting to pull out the residual 3/8” concavity with the 4 corner wood screws, I plowed a 3/4”x3/8” stopped dadoes on the underside of the top to fit over the now repaired side stiles. Using a cabinet scraper, I flushed off the ridge on the new glue line and added some stain to blend into the surrounding area. I also added some minor puttying to the deeper nail holes and gouges and called it good. Well maybe not good, but adequate.
The splits in the side stiles were pulled together with clamps and “toe nailed” with #8 FH screws, all hidden below the top. It didn’t completely close the split, but reduced it significantly and hopefully will retard the further development of the split. Plus, I retained some of that patina stuff.
Oops, I see some glue squeeze out I need to clean up on the door.
If this effort is acceptable to the client, I plan to suggest the following design to convert the icebox into a wine cabinet. Not wanting to permanently alter the icebox, both wine racks will fit into the existing openings and the shelf on the left side just lies over and covers the opening where the block ice was placed to hold glasses and cork screws, and/or other accoutrements.
Thanks for look’in in, and I wish you all a blessed Fall.
-- Greg, No. Cal. - "Gaudete in Domino Semper"