Saturday, March 29, 2014

Upcoming Projects - Inlaid Maple Desk & Antique Walnut Secretary

Those of you who've been following the blog for a while will remember that I've been tolerating using a rickety old card table as a temporary computer desk since I moved here in 2010. I hate this setup, but I've been looking for a nicer table for a while, and nothing had turned up until recently (a month or two ago).

This little table, probably from the 50s or 60s was in the nearby Salvation Army Thrift Store, and was priced at 30$, so I couldn't resist buying it. It wasn't exactly what I had in mind, but was good enough for now.

What attracted me to this particular table was the inlay on the top, as well as the size (which is exactly the size I wanted for the room).

The large centre panel of veneer appears to be 1/4 sawn maple or beech, with a beautiful band of ebony, walnut and maple around it.

As-is, the table has two leaves on the ends that pop out on an unusual spring loaded mechanism. Although the leaves could be handy to have, I really hate how sloppily they sit when not in use, and how incredibly bulky they make the top of the table look.

I'm planning to remove the leaves and mechanism, keeping just the plain top, but this will leave me with two holes on each end board (photo above). I'm not sure if I want to just patch them with "removable plugs", or completely eliminate them by sawing off the top halves of the end boards and adding new maple boards there (and sanding/finish to blend it). I kind of hate to permanently modify the table. I may just end up keeping this table temporarily (I still want a fancy mahogany one with 2 drawers).

Here's how the table looks without the leaves (everything just unscrews):

The table will obviously need to be refinished, and the little drawer also needs new runners (one is broken, and the other is questionable).


I also have a small update on the beautiful old walnut desk/secretary. I was able to find some reproduction handles in a very similar pattern to the originals. These come in very limited patterns and styles (Eastlake/Victorian ring pulls) and they generally sell for around 6-12$ per handle. I did some extensive internet sleuthing and although these same handles are sold by dozens of hardware companies, some did not sell to Canada, and some had overly inflated shipping charges. In the end, I was very fortunate to come across one company that had them on clearance, and they were around 2$ each, with very reasonable shipping to Canada. All told, the set of 9 (they had only 9 in stock, and I may or may not need one for the drop down lid) cost me something around 40$ total!

The back plates are the same size as the originals, but the rings are larger. They also happen to be solid brass, which is even better than the brass-plated originals (but the originals are definitely staying). Once they darken, they will look great!


  1. Hola JC, espero hace días que colgaras algo nuevo en tu blog, pero no creía que fuera tanto, como sabes te sigo hace tiempo y en un comentario anterior te dije que espera tú restauración de este bureau/secretaire del finales del siglo XIX o de principios del XX; ahora veo que te has hecho con unos tiradoress similiares a los de los cajones del interior, estas haciendo un buen trabajo de restauración, sigue con ellos, saludos Valentín.

  2. $40 for nine drawer-pulls is a sweet deal. Hardware can be outrageously expensive. I love that desk, particularly the veneer.