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Collectibles-General (Antiques)/pigeon holes Cutler desk


pigeon holes
pigeon holes  
pigeon holes
pigeon holes  
QUESTION: Hi Robert, It's Vince from Down Under again.

I need to disassemble the pigeon holes on my desk so I can strip the dark/old varnish off and re-varnish anew.

I’m a bit nervous about this because they may not go back together rigidly.

Pigeon holes are currently held together with small panel pins/nails and I think glue.

I don't want to break anything taking them apart, so what’s the best plan of attack Re: Disassembly and reassembly?...regards..Vince

ANSWER: i can see them better now.  also can see that these did not have a full interior-meaning that all the holes were not filled with drawers.

dont take them apart, your will loose the integrity and stability of the pigeon holes and probably turn gray and have your hair fall out.

mineral spirits, then lacquer thinner.  you may remove the back from teh frame-CAREFULLY.

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

QUESTION: Hi Robert, I 'hear what you're saying' and I am already grey and a bit thin on top...hehe.

I didn't expect your answers and to be straight with you, I will probably try to disassemble the pigeon holes because the remainder of the desk will be stripped of varnish.

My local antique restorer Tony says this and I quote:

Start quote :I pull it apart one piece at a time.  Clean the piece and reassemble it as i go.
Pull the top off and clean it. Then pull off the next easiest piece to pull off, clean it and attach it to the top. Keep doing that til you're done.
I find that's the easiest way to do it so you don't end up with a jigsaw puzzle at the end - end quote

Whats your opinion on the above Robert?...cheers...Vince

If that is what you want to do then go for it.  Respectfully, you know my position on it.  Take the back off the pigeon holes, clean with mineral spirits then lacquer thinner coat with shellac in the spray can, rub smooth and be done with it.

If you are determied to strip then take the back off the pigeon holes, get a brush used for cleaning spoke wheels, they are shaped like a cone, use that to strip the holes with the unit intact, sand lightly with your hand using flexible paper or scruffy pads, green or gray.  spray can of shellac.

I will look forward to seeing the desk completed and in use.  

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robert klein


In regards to American antique, vintage and collectible furniture I can help with wood identification, styles, age, periods, historical coatings, materials, techniques, repair, restoration, refinishing, and value. I do not study mid century and later furniture nor do I deal in lamps, and other smalls. You may ask for values and I will give you current market values, I will not give you 'feel good' values. Understand that there are many factors that contribute to market value. If you want a feel good, unrealistic number, please call a local inexperienced appraiser. It is my desire to help you and in doing so I increase my knowledge as well. For that I thank you.


I have been in the antiques furniture and restoration business and in the sales of antique furniture for 40+ years and have continued my education in the trade attending workshops and seminars by various organizations, institutions, and private collectors.

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

BA Florida State University BA University of West Florida 1971

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