Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Storage cabinet from the past

   Last week I mentioned the antique cabinet Sir Old Man was repairing.  He hopes to return it to life.....not restore it  by stripping and painting.  The scars and dings  are the history and tell the story of this old piece....that is still in pieces.


  About 25 years ago, sir Old Man's great uncle died leaving a 3 story row house in Philadelphia filled with items from the past.  We ventured up to help his Dad and brother go through stuff.  Little did I expect to walk into such a hoard of things that bespoke history.  Yes, there were antiques...some I have....and lots of just plain old stuff.
    In the front bedroom was a giant/tall/big old ugly painted wardrobe style cabinet.  It was massive and jammed into a space too small.  When we opened the doors, it was filled top to bottom with rolls of toilet paper and unopened packages of bed linens that had literally rotted with age.   Sir Old Man wanted to bring it home......all I could think of was how?  It was so big.


  I did not know that this wardrobe was probably one of the first style "knock down/take apart"  cabinets.  It literally comes apart in manageable sections and pieces.  You can see one of the inside of one of the doors.....note the wavy panel shows the hand planeing of the piece.   I tend to see it as a primitive style, he refers to it as a farm style piece.




 Once the doors came off,   the center support board and the top crown section could be removed too.  And thus the outer sides and back simply slide apart from the base.
    This board is a section of the back.  There are 4 or 5 of these that are chamford---tapered on the edges to fit into grooved sections.  Very much like  tongue and groove flooring of today. Interesting to note here.....each board is over 12" wide and a single plank of wood.......not glued together narrow boards, or today's glue-ups.   Also, the dark piece on the left, is one of the doors......it has the  aged patina of naturally crackled  layers of paint.




  Sir Old Man found some clues about age in the construction when he began the full disassembling.  Bolts......hand made bolts!  Each one varies as you can see in the thickness of the heads.  A good indication that this cabinet began life in the early to mid 1800s.









These 4 bolts actually hold the whole cabinet together.  Two bolts into the top and two bolts into the base.  In the center you can barely see the nut....it has been mortised into the base.  To the left of it, there is a head of a nail showing.  Sir Old Man has extracted one or two of these and discovered they are cut nails....not modern!





  The hand cut dove-tails were found on the base section.   You have to look really close to see the scribe line, as it is very faint.   Each one appears to be hand cut....no two alike.  And that fascinates me....getting those angles to fit just right and hold the pieces together.

 This is the good foot in the back corner.








The repair.......The back foot  on the opposite side was broken off.   It had been braced on a stack of books wedged into the corner of the room.   Sir Old Man made a new "foot" piece and cut out some damaged/splintered wood to insert a smaller piece.  The glue up and repair is done and just needs some paint to blend in.  Since it is in the back corner and will not be seen, he is not "re-storing" it to original, but rebuilding the damage.  


So that is where this project is......we are on the search for hinges for the front doors that must be replaced now.    So a visit to our one remaining old fashion hardware store is on the schedule soon.    Can't wait to see this one filled with quilts.....now I need to make some lavender sachets...big ones...to hang inside it.  The list never ends, does it?




  We had a massive storm rumble through the area last night.  At least a couple of inches of rain in a very short time.   And a  pond began to develop out front......my favorite area to take photos of doll quilts is under 2" of water.The water is lapping at the edge of the porch.  I gathered towels just in case it came over the edge.....but all was fine and the rain slowed enough for the drains to catch up.
   This morning it is sunny and steamy.....I think summer is here.

Happy stitching.

7 comments:

  1. Fascinating old cabinet! I can't wait to see the finished work installed and filled with your quilts. In my mind there's no way the new furniture can compare to the antique hand-made pieces.

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  2. This is a piece my Dad would have spent days running his hands over, planning, planning, planning and then setting to work in reviving. Maybe even trying to duplicate it with new wood (well old pieces of wood he collected).

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  3. What an incredible piece. I feel like I have just watched a segment of Antiques Roadshow (which I love). Interested to see the end result of this project.

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  4. What an amazing cabinet! I look forward to seeing more.

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  5. Yours is my most favorite blog! Each entry is so interesting, amazing & informative. I always feel like I'm in the presence of masters when I read what you two are up to. A Master Woodworker & a Master Quilter. What a wonderful combination you make. Thanks!!!

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  6. What a fabulous piece of furniture. I can see why you want to put it to use storing your quilts.

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  7. Such and interesting post Debbie. You and Sir Old Man seem to make up the dynamic duo, each an expert in their chosen field. Was he able to determine the approximate age of this piece yet? Looking forward to seeing what it looks like when it all comes together again, and holding your beautiful quilts. lv2bquilting2@comcast.net

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