Paul gives us thousands of words in just a few pictures.
In for repair is a fairly prosaic draw leaf table, with the detachable top
showing light signs of wear and damage. What work are we commissioned to do?
The top has two panels set into a frame construction, with a split running the
length of one panel where stress in the shrinking panel had been relieved
probably due to the shrinkage of the panel being constrained by glue.
Additionally, shrinkage in each panel has caused one panel to sit skewed in its
housing, and the other to exhibit a parallel shrinkage gap
The colour (color, Paddy) is really the least of the problem.
First off is to make a judgement on
1) Repair / close the split
2) Repair / close the skewed gap.
The rest of the piece seems to be sound, so we’ll stop there.
A) dismantle the top, correct all issues, reassemble and re-colour.
B) fill the splits, refinish.
A) Dismantling a sound top is a huge commitment. You say ‘Hide Glue’ which is
better than, say, epoxy or a PVA, but is still not to be undertaken lightly.
Attempt to remove the wedges, soak the joints, apply destructive levels of
pressure, wait, re soak, drill into the joint from below to apply spirit hoping
to break the glue line - let’s not go there.
Alternatively - can we saw it open, then build it back up? Conceivably yes.
Sawing through the M&T joints horizontally would enable you to pull it apart,
free the panels, and eventually re-glue after cleaning the joint line. Run a
profile through the glue line right round the table top using a scratch stock -
just a small something that would look right - a tiny V in cross section. This
would leave the appearance of the ends looking sensible. Could work. Or you
could saw through the M&T following the existing joint, but rebuilding would
leave a witness on the end grain.
Then what - free the tops in their grooves, maybe add back a sliver of veneer to
close the gaps. For the split, clean out as best as possible, then apply glue
and clamp closed. Re finish the top, disguise the veneer, and the split maybe,
or leave it as patina.
B) the simpler way to go is to consider the ‘value’ of the piece and look for a
minimal intervention. Personally, if I could stabilise the split, I would, then
allow it to exist, but filled with coloured wax as a bit of the history of the
item. The skewed panel is harder. If I can devise a way of rotating it so that
there is an even shrinkage gap with parallel edges, then I’d be tempted to do
that. Maybe by glueing blocks to the bottom, or screwing blocks to the bottom,
then applying pressure to re-align the board. If they are indeed hide glued in
place, then you could apply spirit to the joint line, or steam, in hopes of
breaking the glue joint as this proceeds.
If or when you can re-align them, you can choose to fill with veneer slips, or
again, just leave and incorporate into the new finish.
Then we get to re-finishing.
There appear to be an additional two leaves to it. How do the top of those
compare to the bleached top of the centre? You need to re-finish those as well
to get a match. And as the legs also appear to match the bleached out
appearance, how will you treat the rest of the carcass? - full strip and re-
finish, or just the top surfaces.
As someone said - test the bottom surface. Prepare a couple of areas, and try
staining with something rich and something bland. When you have your decision,
clean the top surfaces appropriately and apply.
Still - your table, your choice.
My caveats being that it’s a tricky job. and I’d be looking at doing the least
work consistent with returning it to service, so a final coat of something
varnishy then maybe wax for that subtlety of sheen. As a family piece, revel in
the backstory and the witness marks.
and FWIW - I believe it would be good with new clothes of a rosewood type stain,
but that would make it into an entirely different looking item, and som eof its
charm is likely to be in the washed out colour as it is.
recently shamed by all the restoration items not restored awaiting attention,
and some abysmal application of wax to our everyday tables.
in the most northerly county, farther north even than Yorkshire