Custom Hardwood Furniture & Accessories

  White Oak Dining Room Set - Restoration

     MountainHaven was asked to restore a seven piece white oak dining room set. The dining room table set was made some time around 1900 (early 1890s to early 1900s as best as can be determined). The original finish was cracked, chipped and flaking down to bare wood. The original finish had deteriorated to the extent that it was difficult to realize the wood was quarter sawn old growth while oak. Many of the joints in the chairs were popped and some chairs had missing rungs that had to be fabricated. Many of the structural joints on the table had also failed over the passing of a century of time.

     The restoration process did not repair the age marks (dings, dents, wear, burns, etc.) in the wood that had developed over the many decades in which the set has passed from one family generation to the next. However, where joints had failed, etc. repairs were made along with the repair of other damage that effected the structural integrity of the furniture. A new finish was applied to the set that was authentic to the period in which the furniture was manufactured as well as to the individual piece as it was made. This brought back the original beauty of the century old white oak while preserving the individual markings that make the set what it is: truly an heirloom collection that is once again being proudly displayed and used on a daily basis as the original craftsmen intended it to be.

     The image below shows the restored set in the home of the client. Only three of the six restored chairs is visible. The table has two expansion leaves that are not inserted in this image.




     The lifecycle chronology of the project is illustrated and described below. Click on any of the small images to open a full size view in a separate viewing window.


    This is the pedestal base from the set. The top has been removed. One of the casters has fallen out of its foot. A repair some time past was attempted that failed. The repair resulted in a second hole being drilled in the foot, offset from center. Part of the caster stem is broken off and lodged in the foot.  The broken metal will have to be extracted, the foot cored and a solid oak plug fabricated to fill the void. The foot will then be solid once more and the caster affixed properly.
    The table arrived at the shop with the top already removed from the base. The poor state of the finish of the table top is visible. The old finish is severely cracked, chipped and flaking off down to bare wood in may areas, not only on the table top, but on the base and chairs as well. The pedestal base can be seen next to the table top.
    This is one of the six chairs in the set. Again, the state of the failed finish is very apparent. Also, several of the chairs are missing rungs. New rungs will be fabricated using existing rungs from other chairs as patterns to ensure proper geometries. Most of the joints on all the chairs have popped loose, including the corner block joints.
    One of the leafs has been cleaned down to bare wood, stained and has been given one coat of tung oil finish. This side by side comparison shows the almost fully restored leaf laying next to a leaf that has not yet been touched by the restoration process. The leaf on the right shows the failed finish chipping away leaving bare wood and, in the lower right corner, one of the joints in the leaf is splitting open and will be repaired.
    The table top will be fully disassembled, repaired, reassembled and restored one half at a time. In this image, half of the table top has been cleaned, repaired, stained and given the first coat of tung oil. The other half of the table top has not yet been touched by the restoration process.
    This is a view of the pedestal legs, two of three leafs and one half of the table top. All the pieces have been cleaned to bare wood, repaired (except for coring and plugging one damaged foot), stained and given the first coat of tung oil finish.
    A repair was attempted on the foot of one leg sometime in the past. A piece of the broken caster stem can be seen in the original (center) hole. A second, offset hole had been drilled, but has since become so enlarged that the caster wouldn't stay in place.
    The foot has now been mortised, or hollowed out, to a depth of about 1 1/2 inches. A solid oak plug will be cut and fitted to the new mortise. Once in place, the foot can be redrilled, properly, to accept the stem of the caster.


  The insert plug has been cut and is ready to be inserted into the mortise in the bottom of the foot. Grain orientation of the plug matches orientation of the foot.
    The plug has been epoxied into place and is ready to be milled flush with the bottom surface of the foot. Once drilled to receive the caster stem the foot will be as good as new and the repair will not be visible without close inspection.
    The pedestal assembly of the table has been completely restored, casters reinstalled and the legs bolted back onto the column of the pedestal.
    A view of the restored table with all three leafs in place.
    A view of the restored table with no leafs. It is difficult to find white oak today with the beautiful graining of this century old oak.
    A view of the restored table from a more common angle.
    A typical view of one of the six chairs after having been broken down far enough to repair joints as needed. The old, failed finish has been stripped from the chair and all the pieces prepared to receive a new finish. After being reassembled, the chair will receive final prep and application of the new finish.
    A before and after view of two of the chairs in the set. The chair on the left has been fully restored. The chair on the right is in "original" condition and was above average compared to the other chairs in the set. The chair in poorest condition was restored first.
    A closer view of the two chairs.
    One fully restored chair.
    Complete set of six chairs restored and ready to be placed in home with the restored table.
    Complete set of six chairs restored and ready to be placed in home with the restored table.
All content, including graphics and images, copyright 2014, Ed Reasoner, all rights reserved.