old secretary

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Forum topic by rahja posted 06-04-2009 01:27 AM 1061 views 0 times favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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4 posts in 2787 days

06-04-2009 01:27 AM

Topic tags/keywords: question

Have been handed a project to restore a small secretary (desk) that was in a flooded basement. It is in my shop now and after disassembling it I am faced with about 100 pieces of oak to reassemble. Along the way someone thought it would be a good idea to antique it with some kind of brown paint. My question concerns the age of the piece. Are there things I can look for that might give me some idea of what period of time this small piece was created. I have this same concern for other pieces that people bring me…chairs, small tables, etc. THanks

-- roger l harmon

5 replies so far

View tomakazi's profile


684 posts in 2699 days

#1 posted 06-05-2009 06:45 PM

Hey Roger, I’m in the same boat. I was givin an old secretary that needs to be refinished. The owners of a stained glass shop gave it to me for doing so much work for them (a bonus ). They replaced the glass one piece is glass the way they used to make it- I forget what they called it- It has ripples and waves in it. The other piece of glass is a beveled mirror shaped like a piece of bread. They told me the glass alone was worth $600. What I’m gonna do is have it appraised by an antique dealer. Depending on how much it’s worth I might have it done by a pro. A lot of antique worth can be lost if you don’t know what you’re doing. With your project (being flooded) this probally doesn’t apply.

-- I didn't go to college, I was too busy learning stuff - Ted Nugent

View Gary's profile


8965 posts in 2849 days

#2 posted 06-05-2009 07:32 PM

When you lose the original patina, you lose some of the value. When you need to add new wood, some of the value goes. Painting it cut lots of value. Look at the drawers to see if the dovetails are hand done or machined. Look at the back. What type of wood is there? Dose it look kinda like scrap wood or is it ply? Does it have castors? Metal? There are several things to look for to know if it’s old, antique, messed up, etc

-- Gary, DeKalb Texas only 4 miles from the mill

View Al Killian's profile

Al Killian

273 posts in 3169 days

#3 posted 06-07-2009 01:37 AM

Look at the drawers, do they have ply for bottoms? What type of screws are used? How are the doors put together? Are there any marks under the cabinet? These can narrow down the age alot. Dont not worry about the value. Unless you plan on altering it, the value will not change much at all.

-- Owner of custom millwork shop

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1878 posts in 2977 days

#4 posted 06-07-2009 02:00 AM

Glass with ripples and waves would be sheet (aka drawn) glass. Most glass made now is float glass. Float glass is made by pouring it on a bath of molten tin resulting in a dead flat surface. Sheet (drawn) glass is made by immersing a bar into a vat of molten glass and pulling it upward slowly.

-- Joe

View tomakazi's profile


684 posts in 2699 days

#5 posted 06-07-2009 02:16 AM

Thanks joe

-- I didn't go to college, I was too busy learning stuff - Ted Nugent

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