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Cabinets, Furniture, Woodworks/1940s-1950s chifferobe


QUESTION: Hi Eileen!
I recently brought home a chifferobe that belonged to my grandparents.  I am guessing it was made in the 1940s or so.  I am not particularly concerned with the value, but I would like to know what I can do to repair some of the damage to the outside.  I can provide pictures if this would help.  The inside of the closet space is cedar.
I am not sure where to even start!  Any help would be so appreciated!
Thank you so much!

ANSWER: Hi Danielle
Nice to hear from you.
Yes, if you could send a picture or two I could likely offer some help.
I suspect the veneer is damaged but I need pictures.

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QUESTION: Hi~!  Thank you for getting back to me.  I am sending a couple of images.  Yes, the veneer is damaged.
Thank you

ANSWER: Hi Danielle
The pictures are fine.
This is a nice old piece.
If this was mine, I would refinish it but most folks are not up for that.
The first picture shows the veneer has simply come loose. This repair is very easy but yoy will need a bar clamp. The clamp must be long enough to extend the length of the drawer.
Then you simply get glue under the loose veneer and apply pressure with your clamp until the glue dries. Ensure the glue is spread to cover every inch of the wood under the veneer.
This can be done using a thin knife blade as a spreader.
Protect the drawer face veneer using a thin piece of wood under the clamp or the clamp will mark the surface.
For the rest of the dresser I would clean it down using mineral spirits and fine steel wool pads. Drying as I go with clean rags.
Then a nice waxing.
Get back if needed

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QUESTION: Hi Eileen!
Could you give me an idea about what it would take to refinish this piece?  There are sooo many scratches, dents etc.on the veneer it might be that I need to go ahead and refinish.  I am not working on a full tine basis, so time is not so much an issue.  
Another interesting feature of this piece is the wheels appear to be made out of wood.  I am assuming this was common when this piece was made.  I have looked all over the piece trying to find some kind of identifying mark, but since I have not found anything I assume this was ordered from some place like Sears.  I wish I had asked my dad when Paw-Paw got this.  I wonder if it could have come from my great grandparents.

Thank you for your help!

Hi Again Danielle
If you have the time, a good ventilated area to work and some patience you can certainly do this. But keep in mind, if you start, it has to be finished as such pieces do not do well left half stripped in a damp garage.
I am sending you the stripping info.
All repairs must be made before any stripping. And don't worry if a bit of glue residue gets on the piece during repairs as the stripper will easily remove it.

The first thing you must do is assemble the material to do the job.
The stripper is the most important item.  
I am hoping you can get "CIRCA 1850" brand paint and varnish remover in your area.
Here is a link
If its not available ask for an mc stripper.

MATERIAL LIST For the stripping stage.
1 gallon stripper
3 boxes of Bull Dog steel wool in medium grade.
One 3 inch oil based paint brush.
Rubber gloves (like you do dishes with), and a pair of cotton gloves inside the rubber ones.
People react differently to stripper. A lot of people feel heat through the rubber gloves, but I feel cold. Have no idea why.
An empty large coffee can. (for the stripper)
A couple of old tooth brushes.
Lots of old rags (I like t-shirts or cotton but for this first stage whatever you have)
Lots of newspaper to protect the garage floor
That's all you need to get started.
First remove all handles, knobs and door hinges.
Work in sections.
Brush on the stripper with the brush. Stripper will quit working if it dries, so keep it wet till the finish softens.
Then take a rag and wipe this mess off.
Then another coat of stripper, rag off again, then while the wood is still wet, take the steel wool and rub with the grain till the wood is nice and clean.
Depending on the material you are removing, another coat of stripper is often needed but you will know this as you progress into the job.
Use the toothbrush in crevices.
Thats all there is to it ...move to another section and continue.
No other prep is necessary...and DO NOT SAND
When the stripping is complete, stain with Minwax oil stain applied with a rag, then 3 or 4 coats of low lustre tung oil also applied with a rag.
Please let me know if anything is not 100% clear.
Don't worry about the dings and scratches you refer to.
You cannot sand veneer enough to remove them and will in fact damage the piece beyond repair.
This is an art deco style waterfall front piece.
This type of furniture is quite common and I see lots of it at auction here in Canada.
Unfortunately prices have dropped badly here for vintage furniture.
But the craftsmanship of these pieces always impresses me.
Get back whenever necessary  or for clarification.

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Eileen Cronk


Hi..I can answer most questions about the repairing,stripping and refinishing of all your old furniture and wood items(the things we call antiques)I can give advice about what to buy/avoid at auctions/flea markets. I do not give appraisals on antiques.


I have been refinishing antiques for the past 30yrs. While I have taken several courses over the years,I have found that "hands on" learning is the best teacher. Perhaps I can help you avoid some of the mistakes I made while learning.

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