The Mystery Corner Cupboard – Chapter 8
April 12, 2015
Soon I began repairs to the doors. The glass appeared to be original – amazing. Much glazing was missing, but I restored it. With other minor repairs, the doors were strong and ready for finish restoration.
Before beginning the exterior finish restoration, considerable thought and study went into deciding the best course for restoring the cabinet interiors. I found that the near-black finish wasn’t original, that the original was a warm buttermilk color milk paint. Apparently, only the inside of the top cabinet was painted originally.
Later, along with the top, the bottom cabinet also got the near black treatment. The near black finish appears to have been a varnish glaze, which presented problems for over coating. There had only been 3 finishes, so stripping was unnecessary. The glaze also ruled out re coating it with milk paint. The conservator’s goal of reversibility led to finishing with latex paint – reversible, good adhesion to previous finishes – and a good visual match for the milk paint. I matched the original color and sheen. Once repainted, the interior color nicely complimented the warm mahogany exterior.
Exterior Finish Restoration
Restoring the exterior finish began with the base cabinet. The considerable repairs required a good bit of touch up, but the finish wasn’t fire-damaged, so it mainly required only cleaning, touch up, and a coat of linseed oil.
The veneered mahogany doors though, had severe alligatoring which required a re-bonding coat of wood alcohol, followed by vigorous restorative hand-rubbing with amalgamator. A coat of linseed oil put it over the top to happy. That is, the gorgeous figured mahogany was able to shine through again.