Here 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