Restoring a Biedermeier Tambour Desk Part 3

Staining and Polishing

As you can see from the picture below, the interior of the desk retains the original deep red mahogany colour, whereas the exterior has been  bleached extensively in direct sunlight. I tried using a polish reviver to bring back the colour with no success, so the next step was to meths strip the exterior. I used meths rather than a paint stripper as this still leaves the grain fairly full.



The next step was to mix up a water based stain to match the interior. I applied the stain with a cloth following the direction of the grain, working quickly to avoid patches and streaking.


After leaving to dry for 24 hours I commenced polishing. As you can see from the picture, a couple of coats of polish brings out the true beauty of the curl veneers.

(Curl or crotch veneers are usually cut from where the tree forks or branches.)


Fitting the leather

Originally a skiver had been fitted to the desk, after consultation with the client it was decided that we would fit a good quality hide in a plum colour with an antique finish and a gold border.  I then had to rebate the ground work out in order to fit the thicker hide. It was then sanded to a smooth finish as any imperfections would show through the leather.


Cutting the leather

The leather was lined up and cut with a scalpel to fit and was then pasted using a lap paste. The air bubbles were removed using an ivory boning tool which has the same effect as a wallpapering brush, to ensure the leather goes down flat and smooth.


The Fitted Leather


The client had owned this piece for some years and had been unaware of the fact that by pulling a spring under the slide, the slide came forward revealing three secret compartments.

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The end result

The whole piece was then waxed using finest quality beeswax and a lot of elbow grease.



Restoring a Bierdermeier Tambour Desk Part 1

Restoring a Bierdermeier Tambour Desk Part 2


Restoring A Biedermeier Tambour Desk Part 1



This Biedermeier desk came into the workshop for restoration.

The tambour needed relining, the feet were missing and there was damage to the left hand side of the plinth. There was some patching needed to the veneers and a new leather was required. The finish to the desk was badly faded and stained in places. After discussion with the client we decided what shape the missing feet should be,what kind of leather (skiver or hide) and what style of border they would like.

As you can see from the picture below it was missing its spindles and rails from the gallery.

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The handles were removed as they were added at a later date, these pieces didn’t usually have handles fitted and relied on keys to open and close them, which is why they often got damaged around the key holes.

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Relining The Tambour
As you can see from this picture, the bottom slat  was broken in the middle  and had come apart from the rest of the tambour necessitating relining.


The back panel was removed and the tambour released. It was then cramped to a flat board on the bench to keep the slats square and prevent them from springing.


The old canvas was removed and the surface sanded.


New calico was glued in place.


After 24 hours the canvas was trimmed at the edges.

Restoring A Biedermeier Tambour Desk (Part 2)