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Woodworking/old spool cabinate dry and split


front of chest
front of chest  

top of chest
top of chest  
I have inherited this spool chest which has been out in the shed for years. I am reluctant to do much. My father, now passed, was an advocate for raw linseed oil and I remember him soaking old towels in linseed oil and maybe something else and wrapping the item, letting it sit for weeks to absorb the oil. Everything I read does not advocate this. I don't want to ruin this keepsake. what do I do?
Thanks for all your time and help.

spool chest
spool chest  
Hi Ann, that's in pretty bad shape, and yes I also would not do anything with linseed oil for a variety of reasons, especially raw linseed oil which does not dry.(and is a spontaneous combustion hazard on rags)'s a nice little chest and a professional Restorer could likely bring it back, remove and re-glue the top, and do a complete restoration on the rest, and refinish...but that depends on the budget,(likely a few hundred dollars), and the "look" you're after. It looks to me like its got large nails driven through the top,there are stains, the bottom drawer appears to be missing the front piece (hard to tell from the photo), and the overall condition is not it's pretty far gone, condition wise. Some people like the "original" look of such a piece, and therefore you could just accept it in the condition it's in, and clean it as best you can, lightly sand it with some fine sand paper, (320-400 grit),vacuum it off with a brush attachment, and then apply a proper oil finish (a drying oil), like WaterLox or Formby's Tung Oil finish. 2-3 coats applied as per the directions...let dry for a week or so, then paste wax it, maybe with a dark colored paste wax which would give it a bit of patina and accentuate the age and wear. Feel free to post back, it really depends on what you want it to look it's Hey Day, it was really a piece of well crafted furniture, and would have had a nice finish on it, no cracks in the top, polished hardware, etc...very, very far from it's current condition....I've enclosed a picture of one in better shape that I recently cost the customer about $185 to have me do the job, BUT it was in quite a bit better shape than yours to start.Regards, Greg  


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Greg Scholl


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,usage,etc.


Fine furniture restorer and cabinet maker for over 30 years,serving high end Antique dealers, Interior designers, Collectors in the CT area. 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, and offered instruction on use and care as well.I even have some Trade show Demo experience.

none at this time.

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"),Multiple times in Family Handyman Magazine, local newspapers as well.

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 by Major tool manufacturers, Delta, Powermatic, Performax, Porter Cable, Skil/Bosch to name a few.

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.)
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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