1912 Sideboard Restoration

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Project by HorizontalMike posted 09-01-2012 03:20 PM 3082 views 1 time favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This sideboard restoration project is a bit different than most restorations in that major components were completely missing and had been missing for decades. I had to decide how to design and build these missing parts sight unseen.

I apologize for not having a complete photographic history here, as I got too involved and forgot to take many images. That said, here we go… The LAST image in the above set is the only BEFORE image I could find of the sideboard. Notice that the bottom doors are missing completely and that the top back splash above the mirror is also not present. The problem—We never knew what they looked like originally.

After searching online for days/weeks I found only one or two examples that were similar enough to be considered when designing the missing components.

Checklist of existing problems with missing and wrong parts/hardware:

  • All drawer pulls were wrong and large drawer had been ‘drilled’ with BIG wrong hole
  • All keyhole escutcheons were missing
  • Missing cabinet doors—had only old hinge holes and latch pins (on center stile) as references
  • Top back splash had been missing for decades and we had no clue what it should look like
  • Finish had been stripped ~35-years ago, but poor job refinishing and nothing known about what was used. Existing ‘orange ochre’ stain permeated much of the piece and was not removable.

We knew this dated back to the early 1900s but not much more, until I actually started the restoration and found the manufacture date on the back of the mirror. When I took the mirror out to stain and refinish the upper portion of the sideboard, I was pleasantly surprised to find a date stamped on the mirror. It took some forensic type font matching, but I was able to decipher the year of manufacture that had been smeared when it was stamped. This matches a known timeline that Leslie shared with me. This sideboard was her Aunt’s parents and was acquired just a year after her aunt was born and three years after her aunt’s parents were married. I keep telling Leslie that she needs to ask her aunt if my restoration looks anything like what her aunt remembers of the sideboard. Leslie’s Aunt Zelda is now 101 years old and still living in upper Michigan. I would really like to know if I did this piece of furniture justice after 100 years, you know?

I had to create and build the doors from scratch for those that were missing. All I had to go on were the old hinge holes and the latch pin on the center post. Images I found of a similar sideboard showed simple panel inserts. I chose to try using a raised panel insert, having never done so. I used my tablesaw set at ~5 degrees and ran the panel through vertically along the fence to create the raised portion of the panel. I was a bit careless here in that I did not build a tall auxiliary fence to safely hold/guide the vertical panel. I got away without, but thinking back I will build such a tall fence for any future projects of this type because it is just a bit too dangerous not to.

Believe it or not, my 30 year old freebie jig saw still worked and I was able to utilize it when cutting/carving the trim of the splash. My very biggest complaint about this project relates to just how difficult I found it to match the stain and finish of the original piece. Geez, I spent whole days trying to mix and apply combinations of Walnut, Cherry and Golden Oak stain until I was FINALLY able to get everything reasonably close to matching. This also required me to set pieces out in the summer sun with temperatures around 100F for several hours at a time, in order to get the heavy coats of stain to harden/cure. Of course, and I knew this at the time, I was using the Minwax Stain system incorrectly but I needed to get things darker than the stain would have done on its own. Live an learn… ;-) NEXT TIME I might try some other products, however it is my hopes NOT to be refinishing furniture. I would rather build it from scratch and leave THAT to the next generation.

Much of the hardware and wooden appliques (carved and embossed) that we decided on, came from Kennedy Restoration Hardware ( ). The best part about all of this is that all these hardware components match the time-frame/period to a tea.

More images/details here:

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

9 comments so far

View HorizontalMike's profile


7852 posts in 3590 days

#1 posted 09-01-2012 05:06 PM

Thanks guys. Still have another piece of furniture to post, plus a simple jig I made for an upcoming project.

Hey Steve, being the hot weather wimp that I am, I have been waiting for Late September or so before starting the next project. Looks like that will be that Shaker 7-drawer Lingerie chest that I mentioned over the phone a while back. I promise to try and keep more in touch this Fall. Hope things are going well for you.

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

View Roger Clark aka Rex's profile

Roger Clark aka Rex

6940 posts in 4111 days

#2 posted 09-01-2012 05:20 PM

Simply awesome, exceptional.

-- Roger-R, Republic of Texas. "Always look on the Bright Side of Life" - An eyeball to eyeball confrontation with a blind person is as complete waste of Time.

View MonteCristo's profile


2099 posts in 2865 days

#3 posted 09-01-2012 06:12 PM

You did a fantastic job !

-- Dwight - "Free legal advice available - contact Dewey, Cheetam & Howe""

View Ken90712's profile


17831 posts in 3865 days

#4 posted 09-01-2012 06:17 PM

Mike great job and what a great piece !!! So worth saving!!!! Always great to read about stuff projects you tske on.. Hope all is well!

-- Ken, "Everyday above ground is a good day!"

View Gshepherd's profile


1727 posts in 2878 days

#5 posted 09-02-2012 02:04 AM

Excellent Job Mike, You did this piece justice for sure…..

-- What we do in life will Echo through Eternity........

View Willardz's profile


59 posts in 2986 days

#6 posted 09-02-2012 02:11 AM

Looks Great!

-- I have Carrie, food, shelter, and wood to turn. What else do I need?

View clieb91's profile


3788 posts in 4611 days

#7 posted 09-02-2012 02:51 AM

Mike, It looks awesome!! Really loving the carving on the doors.


-- Chris L. "Don't Dream it, Be it."- (Purveyors of Portable Fun and Fidgets)

View HorizontalMike's profile


7852 posts in 3590 days

#8 posted 09-02-2012 01:18 PM

The “carvings” on the door are actually embossed wood appliques, pressed using the original dies that are over 100 years old and date to this same time period. I love them too, as I think they are perfect for my current use as a “Bar.”

The Devil made me do it! ;-)

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

View cutworm's profile


1075 posts in 3470 days

#9 posted 10-04-2012 11:48 PM

Very impressive job there mike. Beautiful piece.

-- Steve - "Never Give Up"

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