Katrina Chiffarobe

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Project by RajinCajun posted 07-18-2009 06:32 PM 2024 views 0 times favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I don’t like restoration or refinishing, but this was an exception.
My brother’s house was flooded by Katrina. After the waters receded, I went to help gut the house and rebuild. There was only one piece of furniture worth any concern, and that was a chiffarobe from my grandmother’s house.
I drug it outside to examine it; it looked hopeless, having spent 2 weeks underwater. creepy crawlers coming out of it…mold. It was falling apart as I moved it. The BEST piece was the door, which is the first picture.
I was just about to kick the pieces to the junk heap when I spotted handwriting on what was a back panel. It was my father’s initials and a date (6-3-25), obviously written by him at age 8. CRAP, now I HAD to restore it.
I took every joint apart right there in the street (remember, this was 1 month post Katrina so the streets were deserted) and sprayed it with bug killer and disinfectant. Loaded it up and took it home (southwest LA, out of the storm damage area). Then came Rita! We survived, but the rest of the year was devoted to recovery and rebuilding.
I had to cut off an inch or two here and there where wood-rot had taken over. The mirror on the door was broken. I added as little non-original wood as I could. The entire frame and drawer fronts were saved. The side panels had to be copied.
I know its not of any value as an antique, as too much is not original. But it is a family heirloom, and made with enough expertise in the jointery that its ready for another 100 years of use.

-- Its a HOBBY...I already have a job.

6 comments so far

View Hix's profile


161 posts in 3245 days

#1 posted 07-18-2009 08:45 PM

It is a wonderful piece of furniture and even though you could not save all the wood, the fact that you could save any is a miracle. The new wood will not take away your father’s connection to it. The fact that it survived K will just increase it’s value to you.

The hard question is who gets to keep it now? you or your brother?

-- ---call me---- Mark

View SCOTSMAN's profile


5849 posts in 3553 days

#2 posted 07-18-2009 10:08 PM

That’s a decent restoration I am sure it will be as good as new now and should be a family heirloom for many years to come well done and good luck.Alistair

-- excuse my typing as I have a form of parkinsons disease

View a1Jim's profile


117063 posts in 3545 days

#3 posted 07-18-2009 10:11 PM

good work

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View MNWOODWORKER's profile


105 posts in 3553 days

#4 posted 07-19-2009 01:56 PM

You should be proud indeed, keeping the piece alive can be like keeping the family right with you. Great post, bad luck. Now just stay dry!!

View cc194217's profile


7 posts in 3204 days

#5 posted 07-19-2009 02:48 PM

try using GitRot on the wood… Jamestown dist carries it. use it on boats all the time… soaks into the wood and rebonds the wood fibers… you can finish over it… or they suggest drill small holes… and inject directly into end grain… just use it with plenty of ventilation…

View oltexasboy1's profile


250 posts in 1672 days

#6 posted 09-26-2015 12:15 AM

We have one almost identical to yours. This one also came from my wife’s Grandmother. It’s nice to fix the old stuff even when you know it is just an old piece of furniture not an antique. It had a great deal of value to the original owner, and a place forever in the heart of our wives. Good job !!!

-- "The pursuit of perfection often yields excellence"

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