Furniture Restoration Update – and your help needed!

Hello my lovelies – I thought I would share with you an update on my furniture restoration adventures.

Sadly my 10 week class is over now, (sob!) so no longer on a Wednesday night do I go skipping off into London as all the tired good working folk are coming out of London and spend a happy 3 hours chiselling and hammering and glueing. *wistful sigh*

But – I must share with you the latest news on the door I have made for my Japanese parquetry cabinet.

If you have been reading this blog for a few weeks you may remember my post about starting my furniture class and the project’s I was undertaking.

japanese parquetry cabinet

Japanese Parquetry Cabinet – with door missing.

As you can see, this cabinet was in a bit of a pickle. The door was missing from the right hand side, and the bottom drawer was both missing a handle and stuck so it wouldn’t open. The pretty metal corner was missing but hiding inside one of the drawers, and a back panel had fallen off along the bottom.

It comes apart in two pieces so I took the right hand side to class and cleaned it up. My tutor Shaun, helped me free the sticky drawer and plane and sand it down to fit – he also helped me make a new handle. It was hugely exciting opening the drawer that had been stuck for goodness knows how many hundreds of years…maybe there would be some interesting papers inside, or some bank notes… or pieces of Japanese gold wrapped delicately in a goat’s bladder?

Well no… it was empty. But it did have something written on the bottom. A treasure map? The signature of a hugely famous historical figure?

Well not quite… but it did say this:

bottom of stuck drawer

Any suggestions what this says?

British Red Cross – and then something I am not too sure what it says? Any suggestions? Something Oaks? And 1942.

I wonder why someone wrote that on the bottom of the drawer? I wonder what the red cross used it for? Interesting…

my other little box

Look at the work on those doors! Click for larger view.

Anyway – back to the door… the biggest problem was the missing door. How were we going to fashion a new door? Now if you remember I had a smaller similar Japanese cabinet too which had two lovely doors on it so I had an idea of what kinda thing we were looking at. Shaun had a cunning plan to use some wood and blacken it with blackboard paint and look up some authentic pictures to paint on them from Stalker & Parker. Which I must say I was well up for and quite looking forward to a bit of painting with some gold paint.

However, back in the real world I accepted that anything I painted was not really going to look very authentic, and while researching pictures to copy I stumbled upon two lacquered framed pictures for sale on eBay for about £20 one of which weirdly was almost exactly the right size and shape that I needed for my door.


What a find!

I ran the idea past Shaun at my next class and he said go for it! And seemed very pleased with the idea, so go for it I did. And took one in the following week and we lovingly made a frame for it out of pine, and routed out a groove all the way around the edge to insert the picture, and then I glued it and spent an age sanding and planeing (is that a word?) it down to exactly the right size and shape to fit the cabinet and painted it with several coats of black shellac and sanded it down with very very fine paper and et volia, bob is your uncle:

finished box with new door

Pretty good huh?

Well ok… perhaps it didn’t happen quite that easy… you see the big trouble was the hinges. After I had spent a very nerve wracking hour one Wednesday night carefully chiselling out a groove in my nice new frame to drop the hinges into, and then carefully marking out the holes and clipping down the size of tiny screws so that they wouldn’t poke through the very thin wooden edges and screwing them in lovingly… I then hit upon a snag… if we were going to hide the hinges inside the box so that only the knuckle was showing and I countersunk the hinges into the door (all as instructed by Shaun who I trust implicitly!) Well then we are going to have a problem aren’t we?

hinge problem

Almost perfect door

hinge problemhinge problemhinge problem

Can anybody see what the problem is yet?

Yes that’s right… the drawers aren’t going to open are they?

How gutted was I – when, having got to this stage and called out ‘Shaun Shaun… please come help I think we have a problem here…’ Shaun comes over and agrees that this is indeed a bit of a problem and say’s don’t worry – just fill in those grooves (that it took me a hour to lovingly chisel and put screw holes in…) and we’ll think of something else.

So… some wood filler, some shellac painting and some searching google for hinges later… I am still not entirely finished. We agreed that the best solution was to put the hinges on the outside so the door swings out clear of the drawers – which we ought to have realised in the first place as this is where the holes are from the original hinges… doh!

I have searched high and low for some proper authentic looking japanese cabinet hinges that are very small, as the width of the frame is less than an inch. I was hoping to find some like I have on my other mini cabinet above but it seems that nice brass decorative hinges are hard to come by. If you ever see any – let me know!

So I bought a couple of options neither of which I am in love with, but either would do the job. Problem I have now is terrible indecision about which one to use. This is where you lovely people come in. Have a look at the picture below and let me know in the comments box below which hinge you think I should use? The top one or the bottom one?


decisions decisions…

Then I can screw them on and will be all finished. Then I just need to find a useful purpose for it in the house, or find a sneaky hidey hole for it where my husband never goes so that he doesn’t realise I have not sold it as was the original plan. I’ve become quite attached to the old fella now. (and the cabinet – ho ho…)


4 thoughts on “Furniture Restoration Update – and your help needed!

  1. Top hinge – its more angular which seems right to me looking at the shape of the box and the other bits of metal straps on it.
    And whats all this hiding stuff away from me and worse quipping about my age! Tsk.

    The husband x


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