Antique Secretary Cabinet Restoration

Secretary (supermodel Melanie poses)   by Kirt Blattenberger - Airplanes and RocketsSecretary with door open (supermodel Melanie poses)   by Kirt Blattenberger - Airplanes and RocketsHere is an antique secretary cabinet that was given to us by Melanie's parents shortly after we were married. As received, it was in fairly good shape, but the finish was very tired and stained, and most of the joints were loose. There was no glass in the door, and the beveled mirror panel was missing most of its silver backing. We used it for many years after just buying a piece of glass for the door.

Sometime around 1998, I decided to refinish it. At that point the decision was made to totally disassemble the entire secretary because all of the joints were so loose. It came apart like a puzzle with just a few whacks of a mallet. All the pieces were stacked in a neat, flat pile and ended up being moved twice until finally in Loveland, Colorado, in 2001, I got up the nerve to tackle the job of assembling and finishing it. After much chemical stripping and sanding, it was finally ready to be glued back together. Figuring out where some of the parts went was a bit challenging, since even the edge-joined long side panels had been pulled apart. After applying glue, squaring, clamping, and checking squareness again, the entire secretary was finally ready for finish to be applied. I used, for the first time, a water-based stain. I'll never do that again because it raised the painstakingly sanded wood grain terribly. A total re-sanding was done, and an oil-based Minwax stain was applied. Minwax clear polyurethane was used as a top coat. We found a 12" square beveled mirror tile at Home Depot that exactly fit in the original frame. All the original hardware was wire wheeled and lacquered. Is is now our prized furniture possession. Spring 2001.


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Posted June 23, 2017