The Mahogany “Patrick” Desk Restoration

In honor of Hurricane Florence, which is due to hit the east coast in a few hours, I thought I’d start to work on the Mahogany desk that was rescued from my uncle’s shop, The Wagon Wheel, in Ellicott City. This was a victim of the May 2018 flood, and it decided that it wanted to separate all of its pieces at once. The drawers basically disintegrated when I brought it home and cleaned it. Even all of the separate pieces they glued up to make wider boards for the drawer sides all just came apart. I thought I should start this before the next rains come, because frankly, I’m afraid for Ellicott City.

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I like a challenge. Most of the veneer had separated from the substrate of the serpentine drawer fronts, so I removed all of the remaining veneer that I could. One front is missing large pieces, so I guess I’ll learn how to do veneer work this Fall! Plus, I have to figure out how to put all this stuff back together. I dumped out the bag of pieces, small and large, and started figuring out which ones go where. So these photos are the first ones being put back where they belong. As you can clearly see in the photo below, I don’t have nearly enough clamps.

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Surprisingly, the hardest part of this so far has been getting the hardware off. The handles are brass, but the screws are steel, so they rusted and jammed themselves up real good. I used PB Blaster, which is automotive penetrating spray, and that worked for all but two screws. The drill took care of one of those, but I still need to get the screw out of the handle.

Once I get these fronts sorted, I’ll figure out the best way to reattach the veneer. I’ll make new backs out of poplar, and new drawer bottoms (those were really gone). I contemplated cutting off the dovetails from the drawer fronts so I could add bare wood and re-cut them. But on second thought, I will either hand-cut them, or I’ll custom make a template for the dovetail jig. Either way, the process has started. . . Stay tuned!

 

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