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  • Fred

I'm a desk-fixer-guy.

My sister-in-law has this antique secretary desk that needs some work. Who ya gonna call? Fred.

The flip-down front cover serves as a writing surface -- in theory. In its previous state, the flip-down front cover is a floppy, noodly mess. One of the main reasons is that the hinge point on one side was badly cracked. It was a DEEP crack and it appears to have happened a long time ago. When you have a crack in wood, it's best to repair it right away while the wood will still match up and push back together. After a while, some of the fibers break up and dirt gets in there and it just doesn't match up any more. That's what we have here.

So what did I do? I snapped that thing off!

Look at all that dirt and grime in there! I used a brass brush to clean it up and get it ready to glue back together.

Glue it up. Clamp it up and let it sit.

Looks better already. So, it stays clamped up for a couple of hours and then I sand it all smooth.

I'm finishing this with Danish Oil. Danish Oil is a combination of oil finish (either Boiled Linseed Oil or Tung Oil) and varnish. It dries hard and has a durable finish. Because I had to sand the area where the damage was, there's a bit of discoloration. The picture above is the bare wood, the picture below has three coats of Danish Oil.

I'm also replacing all of the hardware with new brass hardware. The hardware that was on the desk was not original. The previous owner seemed to just put a little bit of this and a little bit of that to kind of get the whole thing in one piece. Nothing matched and the whole thing was pretty rickety.

The new hardware is good and solid and will solve a lot of issues, but it looks really, really new. Luckily, brass is a nice soft metal that I was able to reshape the screw heads to make them look more period appropriate. Here's what some of the screws looked like straight out of the package.

After some time on the belt sander, they look like this.

I did some hand sanding to smooth them out a bit after this picture was taken. Obviously, shiny new screws don't fit in on antique furniture. To add some patina to the brass, it's soaking in a mason jar with a shallow bath of white vinegar and salt. I'll post some pictures of that tomorrow.

This is a very interesting job with lots of technical details.

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