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Restoring Arts and Crafts table

I just bought an Arts and Crafts end table that is approximately 100 years old. The top has NO finish left and is gray, bone dry, and has a few hairline cracks along the grain from years of being so dry. The rest is not too bad except the vertical boards with double dowel ends have pulled partly out of the holes in the legs. 

I want to reseat the dowels safely to strengthen the piece and restore the top. I'd like to keep it authentic to the time period (no polyurethane). Thoughts are first to use boiled linseed oil on the whole piece, but with repeat applications on top; use another type of oil, coconut, commercial furniture polishing oil; and after using oil, give it a traditional wax finish to protect it. Ideas on the best oil to use or avoid?  

I also could use suggestions on reseating and attaching the boards on the underside of the top to the legs. I'm considering wood glue and trying to find clamps to maintain pressure while whatever adhesive dries. I can only coat the sides of the dowels. They have not pulled out entirely and I don't want to pull it apart!!!  

Any suggestions are greatly appreciated. This is for me to keep til I croak, but I don't want to adversely affect its value by fussing with it too much. I know using modern finishes or chalk painting it would be sacrilege. I am appalled at the beautifully carved and detailed antique pieces I see covered with chalk paint. I have a modern piece with a damaged veneer top that I have to paint to make it acceptable, but its nothing special and I can't make it worth less!

Thanks in advance. 


Re: Restoring Arts and Crafts table

You do not want to glue the boards together. They are supposed to move. Wood will move with changes in temperature and humidity. You can try some long pipe clamps to get the boards to move a little closer together. I would sand it and use the oils that you have described above. If you plan to remove the top, use the same size dowels when you place the top back on the frame and legs.


Handy Andy In Mt Airy NC

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