Repairing an Early Victorian Table

We found this early Victorian table at Mary Catherine’s in the Short North of Columbus, and had to bring it home. It looks like mahogany, but the top was water stained, and one of the beautiful brass brackets on the lower shelf was missing screws; but the price was right, and I  was pretty sure I could get the wobble out with a little work.

Once home and flipped over, I found the aprons had come loose all around under the top. A little wood glue and clamping pulled those back together easily. The pieces slid right out, with a little careful effort, and keeping the glue only on the tenons will prevent splitting as the piece moves with changes in temperature and humidity.

Brass screws are a pain, but matching the parts is important to the look of the piece. Replacing the missing screws with new round headed brass screws means pre-drilling the holes to keep from breaking off the soft screws. You have to be careful driving them in, mahogany works nicely, but is a tough wood.

The last fix was a surprise, I found one of the screws had pulled out of the top. Nothing too difficult to fix though. I drilled out and plugged the old hole in the top with a 5/16″ dowel rod, glued it in, and replaced the original screw, good as new!

Sanding down the top was a tough decision, but the water marks were pretty unsightly, even though they don’t show up well in the pictures. A light pass with some 220 grit on a random orbit sander took down the remaining finish and water stains. I didn’t sand too far though, those scratches and divots are part of the character in old furniture. Nothing old should look new, the age is a sign of beauty!

Just a light coat of natural colored Danish Oil and a polish with finishing wax brought the color back to a beautiful shine. Now, I just need to come up with an appropriate medallion to patch the gap in the molding. It wasn’t part of the original design, but I think a little embellishment here would add another interesting detail to the table.

In the mean time, we put this table to use, in to our living room, holding up a jade tree… at least until we decide to keep it or sell it!



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