Thursday, November 3, 2016

Before and After: Antique Full Mantel

By Gretchen Sawatzki

At our shop, we do a lot of furniture restoration projects of all shapes and sizes so when large projects walk through our doors we are ready for the restoration long-haul. When an 8-foot 3-inch antique Renaissance Revival style full mantel monster arrived in a pile of parts at our shop we discovered we had quite the challenge at hand!

Antique full mantel parts and mirror upon arrival at our shop.
Image by Charles Wiesner.
First the mantel parts were sorted to determine what existed and what did not. Several parts arrived completely intact including the mantel mirror and lower mantel piece. The upper cabinets along with the overmantel, columns, and carved details suffered from minor damage and missing elements which required intervention.

Mantel before restoration. Image by Charles Wiesner.

The mantel piece arrived in great condition with a few missing wooden elements around the lower blocks. The wood had a heavy stain and years of dirt and grime, so much so that it was hard to initially identify the species of wood.

Mantel cabinet before restoration. Image by Charles Wiesner.
The cabinets were stained on the exterior and painted white on the interior. The glass doors had been removed, and the cabinets had missing wooden elements, nicks, scratches, and stains. The remainder of the overmantel suffered from dozens of lost carved elements.

Stripping the mantel of its original finish. Image by Charles Wiesner.
After discovering what were working with we started the restoration process by stripping all of the existing wooden elements of their heavy stain. It was only after stripping the wood that we discovered that the mantel was made of oak.

Upper cabinets after the finish had been stripped. Image by Charles Wiesner.
After all of the parts were stripped of their finish, a number of molding and carved elements required re-gluing. The cabinets suffered several losses and required about two dozen elements be custom made to replicate what was missing.

Mantel reassembled, minus the mirror. Image by Charles Wiesner.
Once all of the elements were re-glued and tacked into place, the mantel parts were sanded and carefully reassembled. After 30 hours of work, the mantel is now standing in its raw wood form ready for a new stained finish.

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