Dressers and Chests

Units like these are called case goods be-cause they are built like cases. Each unit usually has a hardwood frame to which the top and sides are attached. The back is set in a rabbet (a groove in the side panels) and fixed in place with a nail. The frame is constructed so that each drawer has its own framing members. In the best pieces, there will be a dust panel (a light sheet of wood or hardboard) separating each drawer compartment and attached to the framing members.

Some cabinet or case pieces are made without a frame. In these cases, you'll find solid wood sides joined by wood framing members called stringers.

To begin disassembly these types of units, remove the drawers and look inside. You can see the type of construction immediately — either framed or solid sides.

Look to see how the top is attached, by glue blocks to the frame, or by screws driven up through the framing into the top. Remove the glue blocks or screws and remove the top. Next, locate the nails, usually at the bottom, that hold the back in place. Remove them and slide the back panel out of its rabbets. Back panels usual ly are not glued in placc. hut sometimes an enthusiastic repairer, hoping to strengthen the piece, has glued them. Tapping the glue should loosen it, if this is the case.

Good frames are assembled using dowels or tenons, which usually can he tapped apart. Not-so-good frames may be held together with screws and/or metal corner braces. Good frames may have quite a bit of glue block reinforcement, so look for the blocks and remove them before tapping the frame apart.

Case goods are constructed around a frame or with stringers Remove all glue blocks. Remove the top, then the bottom and the back

PREPARING THE After reducing the FURNITURE FOR piece to its compo-REPAIRS nent parts, spend a little time cleaning the old glue off the pieces and out of the holes. We have found that the best tool for this is the thin-bladed pocket knife. Use it to scrape the glue from exterior surfaces. Because the

The work begins with removal of hardware, including casters; place in aluminum trays.

This marble topped dresser dates back to the 1850s. To renovate we must reglue much of the frame, drawers, replace veneers on the front, and refinish the entire piece.

The holes under the casters were made to hold the necks of the original casters.

This marble topped dresser dates back to the 1850s. To renovate we must reglue much of the frame, drawers, replace veneers on the front, and refinish the entire piece.

glue is brittle, it usually flakes away easily. Insert the blade into mortises and other

The work begins with removal of hardware, including casters; place in aluminum trays.

The holes under the casters were made to hold the necks of the original casters.

PREPARING THE After reducing the FURNITURE FOR piece to its compo-REPAIRS nent parts, spend a little time cleaning the old glue off the pieces and out of the holes. We have found that the best tool for this is the thin-bladed pocket knife. Use it to scrape the glue from exterior surfaces. Because the cavities to get the old glue out. Just be careful in both operations to cut or scrape away only the glue. Leave all the wood or the joint won't fit when you reglue it.

Now repair all broken parts, so that when you reassemble the piece, it will be sound. Check the list you made of parts to be repaired and locate those parts. Examine each one to see just how you can repair it, or whether it is beyond repair and needs to be replaced. In the paragraphs that follow, we will tell you how specific types of repairs can be made. Refer to these as you need them. Remember that there often are

several ways to do the job; you may even be able to invent some methods yourself. The ultimate goal is to return the part to usefulness, make it look like it has never been broken, and join it to other members as successfully as it was joined when the piece was new.

The newly glued crack can now be clamped for drying Wipe the excess glue from the surface as soon as those clamps are in place

Now we must reglue any frame members that need it. using a brush to apply the glue that has been squeezed into the aluminum dish

Once sanded, the original base plates are re-glued to the dresser We find that a % inch brush is the easiest way to apply glue

The newly glued crack can now be clamped for drying Wipe the excess glue from the surface as soon as those clamps are in place

The square nails are now hammered into place as the baseplate is reglued Two clamps hold the plate as the glue dries

The base plate wood is sound, but looks bad These old square nails were used rarely after 1890 and not a! all after 1895

The upper part of the back frame had a long crack in it Using a brush we put glue into the full length of the crack

Now we must reglue any frame members that need it. using a brush to apply the glue that has been squeezed into the aluminum dish

Here is another view of the frame of the dresser, showing how the joints were reglued Clamps of various sizes were required.

This frame member is tapped firmly but gently into the dresser with the rubber mallet Do not damage the wood as you work.

Clamps and more clamps! Every pint we have glued must be firmly clamped, which we think is the true secret of successful gluing

Here is another view of the frame of the dresser, showing how the joints were reglued Clamps of various sizes were required.

A router throws a lot of chips and sawdust, so always wear safety glasses

Sides are wider than the back because the drawer bottom must slide past the back

Cut sides for each drawer, we used 1 nch oak. The bottom fits into a groove at the bottom of each side, cut this with a router and a 'A inch dado bit Trace dovetails on drawer fronts

Cut a blind dovetail joint with a jib and a router holding a dovetail bit Drawer side is at jig back; drawer back is in front of the jig

The bottoms of each side are broken and severely worn; drawer bottoms are warped and cracked We will reuse the fronts only

The original dovetails on the drawer sides were hand cut and irregular in shape They are now quite broken and worn.

The drawers ot the dresser are coming apart and need work First they must be disassembled, using a rubber mallet

HOW TO Drawers, especial-

REBUILD ly large ones, take a

DRAWERS beating in regular use and so tend to be loose and wobbly after awhile. Sometimes you simply need to take them apart and reglue them. In other cases, a bottom or one of the sides may have to be replaced. If you intend to use new hardware, the old hardware holes may have to be filled and new ones drilled. If the drawer is very old. look closely at the drawer runners, or the bottom edges of the sides, on which the drawer slides. They may have become quite worn, signalling the need for new sides.

Good, plain hardwood is fine for drawer parts. Save walnut, cherry and mahogany for places that show.

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