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Antique Furniture/Need help ID'ing antique oak Craftsman pedestal table

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QUESTION: Dear Mr. Klein -

This past week I bought what I think is a great find at a local antique shop. It is a 54 round split-leaf quarter sawn oak dining table, with a square pedestal. It's obviously been somewhat neglected, and one of the legs (not shown in the pictures) has the upper buttress split off and missing. I knew when I bought the piece that I would need to do some work, but I enjoy woodworking and am looking forward to getting into this piece. There are also several cracks that I will need to address. My question for you before I start is actually two-fold - what is the age of this table, and who made it? I can find no stamp or mark on it, other than some large cursive lettering in pencil on the underside, which MIGHT say "odd top", though I can't be sure. The square pedestal is unique to me, I've never seen any other than round ones and an occasional carved traingular configuration, like in a French piece. It's constructed with tongue&groove oak strips. The top attached with square nuts. Oh, also - the lever to engage/disengage the leaf lock has a rotating wooden knob handle.

The piece looks like it may have sat in someone's basement or barn or garage for some time, which is a shame since it's a beautiful table! The flake in the top appears to be large. I can't wait to see how it will look once I'm done, I'm sure it will be handsome. I'm not sure what it's worth, maybe not much, but certainly the $85 I paid for it. But before I do ANYTHING to it, I'd like to know more about it, and whether I SHOULD restore it (?)

I'm attaching as many pictures as I can. I will email addiotional ones, along with a copy of this post. I look forward to your thoughts on this item. Thanks!

ANSWER: Mission, Arts and Crafts, Craftsman pretty much mean the same thing, a bit of difference but pretty slight.  there are those who would argue but for our purposes it is like arguing whether a tomato is a veggi or berry or fruit.  

Table will take a lot of work but it should be done.  I dont know your skill set with restoration of furniture so do not take ofense if it seems like i say the obvious in the following test.

First, decide your course of action, only think.
I would do this:  Take lots of pictures during the process as you will thank yourself when you put it back together.

top;
with a screwdriver, mark a I on the end of one slide, a II on the other slide.  exactly next to that do the same on the table so when removed they will go back in the exact same place.  If the glue blocks are holding the slides, mark them and the slide then take a chisel and get under one end (end grain end not side)of the glue block and rap it with a hammer to loosen it from the underside of the table.  The glue used will be hot hide glue and judging from the condition of the table it should come loose easily. Save the screws from the slides and put them back in the same pockets in the slides and put blue tape over the entry hole of the pocket in the slide so they do not fall out. set aside glue blocks and slides.  Remove the locking mechanism, look closely to see if there is a patent date on the metal.  set it aside with the screws, tape them in place.

Now you have a pedestal and two top halves.  inspect to see if any of the top boards are loose, there is a difference between separation at the ends and loose.  Expect separation at the ends, this is from wet and dry conditions.  if all the boards are tight then dont worry with the separations at this time.  Net thing I would do is glue the separation at the ends of the aprons where the plys have separated.  Use hot hide glue.  If it is not you friend now is the time to make its acquaintance.

base;
mark and remove feet from the central pedestal.  check for looseness in the pedestal.  check for looseness in boards of the legs.  Let me know what you find.  at the very least you will have to reglue the corner glue blocks or remake ones to glue in.  You will clean where they will glue in and use hot hide glue and a rubbed joint (look it up when you are learning about hot hide.  You will use 251 gram strength hot hide glue.

Next you will strip the old finish off all the wood.  Use a methylene base stripper, it works and if you are in a ventilated area it is fine in spite of what the gubermit says in their infinite wisdom.

Do not scrape but you can use maroon scruffy pads or a nylon bristle brush- the kind sold at the grocery store shaped like an iron.  Use lots of stripper and less effort.

hollar at me when you get this far and before you use any sandpaper or anything that looks or acts like sandpaper.  do not buy any polyurethane you will not need any, do not buy any stain yet.

the square base is not unusual and it is the style of the feet, from very plaine to more elaborate that sets them apart.


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thank you for your excellent and detailed advice, Robert - sounds like I have my work cut out for me, but that's great, I love projects like this. I do confess I have not restored anything before, but I have done lots of wood projects over the years and really have fun with it. I have a couple of follow up questions though, mainly from my inexperience with true restoration work and cabinetry joinery. I have always used aliphatic resin (carpenter's wood glue) for my wood projects, and haven't had any experience w hide glue. I did some reading about it after receiving your reply, and understand it's a traditional material and held in high regard by woodworkers. What are it's advantages over aliphatic resin? It sounds like more work to use, which I am not afraid of, just wondering about it vs. the A-R. Also, I take it that you can't make a determination as to the vintage of the piece yet without further info, correct? And the corner glue blocks you reference, are those the ones inside of the pedestal that buttress the interior corners of the pedestal, where the leg attachment studs pass through and are nutted?

Answer
I have always used aliphatic resin (carpenter's wood glue) for my wood projects, and haven't had any experience w hide glue. I did some reading about it after receiving your reply, and understand it's a traditional material and held in high regard by woodworkers. What are it's advantages over aliphatic resin?

bk>
there are many advantages, read more!
The first site (don) is a friend and mentor of mine, the second is a student of Don.

http://donsbarn.com/my-favorite-set-up-for-using-hot-hide-glue/
http://www.vanedwards.co.uk/glue.htm
http://www.popularwoodworking.com/article/hide-glue-in-liquid-form


It sounds like more work to use, which I am not afraid of, just wondering about it vs. the A-R.

bk>
hot hide glue has a higher tensile and sheer strength than pva glues.  the properties are better, (goes from liquid, to gel to hard).  it is the original glue used on the table.  it is a necessary skill in restoration.  If it more trouble, yes at first but once it is your friend you will thank me.


Also, I take it that you can't make a determination as to the vintage of the piece yet without further info, correct?

bk>
vintage/age; around 1900-1915

And the corner glue blocks you reference, are those the ones inside of the pedestal that buttress the interior corners of the pedestal, where the leg attachment studs pass through and are nutted?

bk>
yes, on the inside corners there should be at least three glue blocks on each seam, the glue blocks will look like the ones on the slides, triangular cross section about 3-4 inches long.

send me an email and I will send you a paper on adhesives.  

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robert klein

Expertise

Regarding American antique, vintage, and collectible furniture I can help with wood identification, styles, age, periods, historical coatings, materials, techniques, repair, restoration, refinishing. Please read instructions for posting.

Experience

I have been in the antiques furniture and restoration business and in the sales of American antique furniture for 40+ years and have continued my education in the trade attending workshops and seminars through several organizations.

Organizations
Professional Refinishers Groop, Int., AIC, Antiques Dealers Association

Education/Credentials
BA Florida State University BA University of West Florida 1971

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They deserve privacy, sorry.

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