Walnut Chest of Drawers rescued from a leaky shed

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Project by Roz posted 768 days ago 1172 views 0 times favorited 14 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I know….. I know…..this old thing looks like a million others we’ve all seen. This one was laid in my lap by my cousin who gave it to me when they started repairing their shed.

It was covered in old paint which must be the same thing they use on the Space Shuttle because it took over four stripping to get it off along with a lot of scrubbing and sanding. There is still a bit of it that can be seen.
I had to cut off the bottom ¼ inch because of water damage.
I installed blocks and small casters to restore its height and now it is hard to tell that any damage existed.

I find this piece particularly interesting. It seems to have been made at about the time automation was coming into wood working. The drawer joints are machined peg and loop. (What I call it) The sides and bottoms are cut on a circular saw from full width planks. The edges of the drawer bottoms are rabbet and all of this is very rough machined work. The cabinet seems to have been made largely by hand with hand cut joints in many places. The lid and base are attached with sliding dovetails. The handles are hand made and the decorative details on the drawers are as well. It looks like it was built in a time when powered machinery was still uncommon and manual work was relied on heavily. I suspect it was mass produced on a small scale.

There are several layout marks still evident on the piece and the drawers and slots are not all interchangeable, one being slightly smaller than the other two of similar size. The cabinet is made from a very good grade of Walnut with Pine, Poplar and maybe Willow as secondary woods. Drawers are guided by strips of wood . The only hardware in this piece is a few screws and nails.

The finish treatment I used was Minwax special Walnut stain, Lemon oil, and Clear Satin finish lacquer applied with a spray gun.
Thanks for looking. Roz

-- Terry Roswell, L.A. (Lower Alabama) "Life is what happens to you when you are making other plans."

14 comments so far

View Hawaiilad's profile


1846 posts in 1605 days

#1 posted 768 days ago

Great Save on the dresser. I was give an old desk and it sounds like it came from the same place…so much paint. I enjoyed making it new again, but I think next time I will start from scratch building new.

-- Larry in sunny and warm Hawaii,

View TrBlu's profile


357 posts in 1210 days

#2 posted 768 days ago

Great job!!! Glad you saved that beauty.

-- The more I work with wood the more I recognize only God can make something as beautiful as a tree. I hope my humble attempts at this craft do justice by His masterpiece. -- Tim

View CharlieM1958's profile


15623 posts in 2803 days

#3 posted 768 days ago

I would have thought that piece was too far gone to bother with, but you really did a great job with it. It’s a really interesting piece… I’ve never seen that joinery technique they used on the drawers.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View Oldtool's profile


1715 posts in 775 days

#4 posted 768 days ago

Amazing difference between “Before” and “After”. Great job, well done.
The last photo shows pretty bad feet, did you do anything with these?

-- "I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The point is to bring them the real facts." - Abraham Lincoln

View david38's profile


999 posts in 928 days

#5 posted 768 days ago

looks like new.

View Roz's profile


1658 posts in 2371 days

#6 posted 768 days ago

Thanks all. I dislike stripping and refinishing, prefering to build. This did come out well.

-- Terry Roswell, L.A. (Lower Alabama) "Life is what happens to you when you are making other plans."

View grizzman's profile


6703 posts in 1888 days

#7 posted 768 days ago

beautiful piece terry, you worked hard on this and i thing it was well worth the save, good hob …a side note, i really dislike stripping furniture, my dad many years ago, worked at a place the had a dipping tank, you lowered it in looking like world war 3 had taken place and it came out clean as a whistle…thats the way i like to do it…grizz

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

View DocSavage45's profile


4682 posts in 1427 days

#8 posted 768 days ago


Your efforts are a tribute to the people who built befor us? Thomas Moser did rehab and restoration in his early years which taught him a lot about wood working.

Thanks for showing us.

I appreciate too that you stayed as close as possible to what might have been original finish.

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View stefang's profile


12405 posts in 1919 days

#9 posted 768 days ago

This is a piece well worth saving Terry and you’ve done a nice job on it. I was especially interested in the what you call ‘peg and loop’ joinery. I recall (imperfectly) an article I read on the history of that machine joint. It told about the inventor, the machine, etc. It never enjoyed the widespread use of the dovetail, but it was a very clever machine joint and was used quite a bit for awhile. I would think that furniture with those joints would be somewhat hard to find and therefore rare. I’m sorry I can’t remember more about it, but maybe one of our members do. BTW it was an American invention.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View Beginningwoodworker's profile


13337 posts in 2257 days

#10 posted 768 days ago

Nice job, Terry.

-- CJIII Future cabinetmaker

View SirFatty's profile


469 posts in 797 days

#11 posted 768 days ago

Those drawer joints are really cool. Good job on the restoration!

-- Visit my blog at

View peteg's profile


2797 posts in 1407 days

#12 posted 768 days ago

What a restore Roz, fabulous job.

-- Pete G: If you always do what you always did you'll always get what you always got

View Roz's profile


1658 posts in 2371 days

#13 posted 768 days ago

Thank you guys! I really enjoyed the additional information you have provided on this old piece. My wife has already found a place for it.

-- Terry Roswell, L.A. (Lower Alabama) "Life is what happens to you when you are making other plans."

View Roz's profile


1658 posts in 2371 days

#14 posted 768 days ago

DocSavage, I appreciate your comments on my work. I have a love for preserving the work of those how went before me and cared enough to create something that has lasted this long, not to mention the owners how have valued and preserved the pieces until now. I occupy my thought with whom and how the old piece was made. I like to speculate which era, region or country the piece I am working on was made in by the methods and materials used in the construction. Thanks for being insightful.

-- Terry Roswell, L.A. (Lower Alabama) "Life is what happens to you when you are making other plans."

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