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Cabinets, Furniture, Woodworks/Can low humidity caused shrinkage be repaired?

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Question
Hi.  We have two French antique pieces of furniture that have suffered significantly from the dry climate in Denver.  One is a 5ft round Louis Phillipe dining table circa 1860 with leaves to expand to 10ft.  The table without leaves in round set-up has separated at the sides about one-half inch.  The other piece is a 18th century French hutch.  There is significant separation on each end - about 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch.

Is there anything I can do to tighten them.  What if I get a humidifier, place it close to the shrunken areas, and gently clamp for a period of time?

Each piece is of walnut and quite valuable apart from the shrinkage issues.

Thanks

Answer
Hi Robert, typically this type of repair work is highly skilled, as some pretty extreme damage has occurred already..furniture will always acclimate itself to the surroundings, and one way to determine those surroundings is to purchase an inexpensive Hygrometer or two and place them in the rooms where you display these pieces. Observe the relative humidity in these spaces and then take corrective measures to keep them more hospitable...a tall order. Certainly the addition of some moisture to the environment is what we're speaking of, but you cannot force these pieces back into position and then expect them to stay after such cellular damage has taken place, unfortunately.....minute changes can be realized over time with due diligence, but it's difficult to even cause that on Antiques of this nature....repair and restoration techniques can be used to repair this damage, but there really is no magic reversal....please feel free to post back, but I am battling a health issue so please be patient with me- regards- Greg

Cabinets, Furniture, Woodworks

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Greg Scholl

Expertise

Questions on Woodworking, wood finishing and refinishing of all kinds, repairing furniture and wooden objects, Architectural details, Woodturning, carving, tool usage, product usage, some chemistry as it applies to woodworking and related interests,cabinet making and furniture construction/design, etc. I have experience with all manners of colorants, finishes, paints, stains, dyes, glazes, and coatings, wood species recognition and usage,tool recommendations, blade types and recommendation,techniques and methods for many Woodworking related issues, etc.

Experience

Fine furniture restorer and cabinet maker for over 30 years,serving high end Antique dealers, Interior designers, Collectors in the CT area. Consulting for area Painting/Decorating and Building contractors on non painting issues..(staining, wood prep.,clear finishing, floor restoration and architectural detail restoration and repair, etc.) Sold, built, serviced, setup Home, Industrial, and Commercial stationary woodworking tools for a major tool retailer in CT. for three years, sold hand and power tools , provided knowledge, parts replacement, service, and on site service, Trade show Demo, and training as well.

Publications
Published in Fine Woodworking Magazine (12/97), included on Fine Woodworkings first "Best of Fine Woodworking" CD-ROM (2002) ...("27 year compilation of expert know-how")

Education/Credentials
Art School at Silvermine Guild in Norwalk, CT., 9 year apprenticeship in a European run Cabinet and Restoration shop in CT., various classes on subjects having to do with the field. Seminars from major Tool manufacturers, Skil/Bosch, Delta, Powermatic, Ritter, Porter cable, Milwaukee, Dewalt/B&Decker, Performax.

Past/Present Clients
Many varied clients including work on Martha Stewarts' Westport, CT. show house, many fine Antique dealers and private collectors in and around Fairfield County and in Woodbury, CT. (the Antiques capital of CT.), Golden Age of Trucking Museum,Consulting for area Painting/Decorating and Building contractors on non painting issues..(staining, wood prep.,clear finishing, floor restoration and architectural detail restoration and repair, etc.), local Museums and Historical Societies. For the last two years I have been employed with Schwenke Auctioneers Inc.- Woodbury Auction LLC., as a staff photographer,IT tech,and doing restoration and repair work as well.

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