Restoration Of A Shapland & Petter Mahogany Coal Cabinet

This Barnstaple based company manufactured some of the finest pieces of furniture in the Arts and Crafts style.

The coal box was missing it’s pierced splashback

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Four of its spindles were missing

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To make the missing spindles I glued together between newspaper, billets of mahogany the same diameter as the original spindles, this enabled me to separate them later in the process.

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The profile was then planed and sanded on both sides.

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The billets were then separated and re-glued with newspaper between each one again and the process repeated.


Finished spindles ready to be separated with a sharp knife

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 Sanded and ready to polish


For the splashback, corner brackets and moulding I used a piece of  reclaimed timber that was already polished the same colour.  The design for the pierced hearts I took from a similar item of Shapland and Petter furniture of the same period.



The top had water marks on it and was meths stripped and re-polished.


Any digs and scratches were filled, touched in and finally the whole piece was waxed.


Finished Coal Cabinet



Restoring A Picture Frame


As you can see from the picture below, the mouldings on the top of the frame resemble a roller coaster, due to the frame having got damp in the past. One corner motif and a couple of pieces of moulding were missing. Some pieces were previously glued using contact adhesive (nightmare) and the frame had been brush coated with a green/gold paint.

CIMG4378Where the moulding was rocking from being curved I put pressure on each end to snap it, thereby straightening it and gluing it back into position. Once I had a good straight line of moulding, using dentists amalgam I made an impression of the moulding, blocked off both ends with modeling clay and filled with resin mixed with dental plaster. (This gives a harder casting with no air holes). When dry the casing was removed leaving a perfect copy of the moulding.

CIMG4374The moulding was then bedded into place in plaster. Left to dry then trimmed to fit and papered with a fine grade Lubrasil. When papering any mouldings or cavettos use an object of the same shape to wrap the paper around (I used a piece of plastic tubing ) as finger papering will just follow the bumps.

CIMG4381 CIMG4384The missing corner motif was built up using plaster and diluted PVA.  When semi dry it was carved to match. While the plaster was workable I filled as many large gaps as possible between the mouldings and damaged outside edges and corners to the frame.

CIMG4382Once all the plaster work had been done I gave the whole frame a wash coat of Antique Gold Finger mixed with shellac polish and a touch of grey umber.

CIMG4389a When touch dry I dusted some rotten stone (ground pumice powder) with a paint brush around the frame to give the frame an aged look.

CIMG4386I then made a small dry pad and using Antique Gold Finger I went over the surface lightly highlighting all the high spots, motifs, mouldings etc.leaving the grey rotten stone in all the depressions.

CIMG4388When dry the slip and the painting were pinned back into position and the frame was rewired.


Please note this frame had been previously ‘Painted over’ I would not have used this technique on a gilded frame. I would touch in small spots but would not have gone over the whole frame.

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)


As Featured on BBC’s Antiques Road Show

This lovely late 19th Century Inlaid Chest of Drawers was featured on BBC’s Antiques Road Show at Hartland Abbey last summer and was brought into my workshop earlier this year for restoration.

The chest is inlaid with Ebony, Ivory, Abalone Mother of Pearl and Horn.  There were over 200 missing pieces of inlay which I had to create individually and fit by hand.

19th Century Inlaid Chest of Drawers (Restored version)

Close up of the drawers

Side view

Top of inlaid chest of drawers

Restoring an Antique Picture Frame

Welcome to my first post! This is how I restored an antique picture frame in need of some tender loving care …

A Picture frame missing some mouldings and damage to the inside edges

Making the mould

Filling the mould

Pieces of mould ready to fit

Matching the pattern and fitting to frame

Patch inside edges

Touching in with Gold Finger and pigments

Ready to wax

Finished article

Eh Voila! Before and after.