Antique Furniture Rescue (Sort Of)

I have a special project going on.  One of my neighbors that I am friends with and that knows I do a lot faux painting asked me if I wanted an antique dresser to paint.  She explained it was in rough shape and they no longer wanted it.  It is called a 'serpentine high top' dresser and without seeing it I said sure that would be great.

Well the piece was literally falling apart.  Here are some of the pieces.

At first I thought hmm, this piece will never be usable again and might be better to chuck it.  But I am up for a challenge so I decided to take it on.  One of the drawers had totally fallen apart.  The other ones were all in bad shape and almost falling apart too.  Look at that great 'serpentine' front though.

Anyway I knew it would take a lot of putting back together so I have started on that.  You can see how the corners have fared.  They have been repaired a lot in the last hundred years.

The inside of the drawers needed some big help too after I got them all back together.

The back support planks had fallen off and the joints where too loose to expect them to stay together so when I put them back I counter sunk some screws on both sides of the piece to hold it together.  I had to do that in front and back.

You can see here how I have counter sunk and put screws in the cross pieces to hold them on.  They weren't even attached when I got the piece.

After I got the whole thing back together I sanded it all down.  I really like using my orbital sander for this kind of work.  It takes off the finish really well without damaging the wood.

Once I had it all sanded down I primed it with an oil based primer called 'coverstain'.  I like using the coverstain for this kind of work.  It seals really well and can be sanded as smooth as smooth can be.  I primed all the surfaces except the cavity of box itself.  In there I used a clear shellac to seal all of those areas.  Basically what I did was seal every part of the piece.  I didn't want any lingering hundred year old musky smells coming from it.  The white arrow in the next photo indicates the cavity where I used the shellac.

Once I had the drawers primed I took and caulked around all the seams in the inside of the drawers.  This is after I had glued them back together of course but I feel like caulking them really will hold them together from now on and also there were gaps and chips out around the seams that needed to be repaired.

So in the next step I'll paint a base coat of paint on it.  The piece was way too far gone to try and restore to an original condition.  Plus it is damaged so much it wold not be worth anything anyway.  It is way better at this point to paint in an artful way and use it like that.  I feel really confident that my repairs will hold the piece together indefinitely.  Maybe get another hundred years out of it, who knows.