Sunday, December 13, 2009

The chest that couldn’t be repaired – or could it?

I was recently contacted by a customer who had a cedar chest she wanted repaired. It was her mother’s hope chest that has been in the family for over 60 years. She didn’t want it cleaned up or refinished, she wanted it re-veneered. She spoke with several woodworkers about the job and they all said the same thing. Because of the curved top, it couldn’t be done. Then she called me.

I went to their home, looked at the chest and said “I’ll do it”. I must say the chest looked a little worn and had a few repairs that needed to be un-done.

The first step was to remove the old veneer. Some areas just flaked off, while others need a hot air gun, a putty knife and lots of patience.

Once that was done I used a chisel and a palm sander to smooth out the surface. There were several digs and tears in the cedar that needed to be repaired. A little wood filler and some final sanding and it was ready for the next step.

Using a mahogany veneer and contact cement the new face was applied. Special care was used on the curved top and the book-matched front. Some light sanding and it was time to re-assemble the chest.

Some custom mixed stain to match the original chest and I finish it off with several coats of urethane. Finally it was delivery day. Both mother and daughter were overwhelmed with the finished piece, especially after being told several times that the job could not be done.
Some pieces are too far gone to repair, but often times the repair is a matter of finding the correct craftsman. In this case the furniture was structurally sound and just needed some cosmetic work. A family now has a second chance to enjoy an heirloom piece.


  1. Outstanding craftmanship to be able to resurrect what was once a piece of a family's history and [in their eyes & many 'experts' eyes as well] ready for the junk heap. This type of wood working expertise is genuine and hard to find in todays' 'throw-away' world. Good to know somebody really know's their craft. Great work Dave. You are the very best at your craft.

  2. Absolutely outstanding! Good craftsmen are few and far between!