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Forum topic by PeteMoss posted 07-23-2019 05:57 PM 399 views 0 times favorited 17 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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PeteMoss

214 posts in 3919 days


07-23-2019 05:57 PM

Topic tags/keywords: desk antique mahogany

Hey guys, I’m sorry if this doesn’t fit in this forum, but it doesn’t really seem to fit any of the forums.

I have stepped outside of woodworking for a bit and actually purchased an antique desk. It is massive thing from the 1890’s made out of mahogany. I would like to clean it up a bit and add a coat of wax. I figured I would use some Renaissance wax on it and maybe lube the drawers with some paraffin wax. As far as a cleanup first I wasn’t sure what to do. Should I leave it alone, use a damp cloth, something stronger? I don’t know what the finish actually is. I’m guessing on a factory piece from that timeframe maybe some kind of a lacquer. I don’t think it is shellac. If so it held up really well. Here are some pics.

Also, I am wondering what these small drawers are used for. They are kind of odd to me in that the opening is kind of from the back going to the front.

The other thing I was wondering is if anyone knew what these metal bars are for. There is one on each side on the inside of the rolltop verticals.

Thanks everyone.

-- "Never measure......cut as many times as necessary." - PeteMoss


17 replies so far

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Rich

4683 posts in 1038 days


#1 posted 07-23-2019 06:44 PM

That’s a really nice desk. Be sure to test on a hidden area, but naphtha is a good cleaner that won’t affect the finish. Try it somewhere it won’t show and see if you like the result.

-- My grandfather always said that when one door closes, another one opens. He was a wonderful man, but a lousy cabinet maker

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PeteMoss

214 posts in 3919 days


#2 posted 07-24-2019 12:01 AM

Hey Rich. The naptha worked really well. Thanks a lot. Just trying to get her all cleaned and waxed up now.

I hope someone on here knows what those weird drawers are for.

-- "Never measure......cut as many times as necessary." - PeteMoss

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JCamp

996 posts in 999 days


#3 posted 07-24-2019 12:18 AM

Back in the day folks use to send letters….. in envelopes. My guess is that’s what the drawers are for since they seem like the right size.

-- Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with all thy might

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Rich

4683 posts in 1038 days


#4 posted 07-24-2019 12:50 AM

Glad it helped, Pete.

-- My grandfather always said that when one door closes, another one opens. He was a wonderful man, but a lousy cabinet maker

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PeteMoss

214 posts in 3919 days


#5 posted 07-24-2019 01:40 AM

Yeah, JCamp. The drawers seem to fit tri-folded letter sized paper very well. I just don’t understand the thinking behind how they are loaded from the rear. It seems odd to me.

As for the metal bars, I’m just not sure at all. I had though that maybe they had some kind of an accessory, like an out and in box or something that would attach to them. If that were the case though it would seem that it would block access to the drawers.

-- "Never measure......cut as many times as necessary." - PeteMoss

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JCamp

996 posts in 999 days


#6 posted 07-24-2019 01:03 PM

I really don’t know what the metal pieces would b for. My best advice on that would be to find a older lady that use to be a secretary and ask her about those and the drawers.

-- Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with all thy might

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bilyo

774 posts in 1551 days


#7 posted 07-25-2019 01:48 PM

If you do a google search for antique rolltop desk, you will find some with those bars on the sides. Most I’ve see are made of wood. I haven’t seen an explanation for what they do but, maybe you could contact some of the dealers and find out what they are.
That is a beautiful desk. Glad you are getting it cleaned up and waxed.

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MrRon

5621 posts in 3692 days


#8 posted 07-25-2019 05:37 PM

That desk could possibly have been used in an office in the payroll department. The drawers would hold envelopes containing an employee’s wages. The bars could have been a place to store payroll envelopes. It could also have been used by Western Union

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PeteMoss

214 posts in 3919 days


#9 posted 07-26-2019 01:28 AM

Thanks everyone. Those are all solid ideas. I’ll try doing some research on antique forums or whatnot.

She’s coming along nicely. Lots of surface area to clean and wax though.

-- "Never measure......cut as many times as necessary." - PeteMoss

View Lazyman's profile

Lazyman

3671 posts in 1836 days


#10 posted 07-26-2019 05:22 AM

I suspect those bars may be for a slide out desktop similar to the one on this picture, though it is just a guess.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

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controlfreak

106 posts in 50 days


#11 posted 07-26-2019 01:26 PM



I suspect those bars may be for a slide out desktop similar to the one on this picture, though it is just a guess.

- Lazyman


I believe you have nailed it, the slots in the side appear to line up perfectly.

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PeteMoss

214 posts in 3919 days


#12 posted 07-26-2019 02:00 PM

Lazyman, yeah that totally looks like that could be it. It looks like those channels would ride right along the bars. Very interesting. Thank you.

-- "Never measure......cut as many times as necessary." - PeteMoss

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SMP

1304 posts in 354 days


#13 posted 07-26-2019 02:15 PM

Does the back side of where the drawers are come off? Similar to the “modesty panels” under the center. Some of those desks were designed to be out in the open.

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PeteMoss

214 posts in 3919 days


#14 posted 07-27-2019 12:02 AM

SMP, no, it is all one solid back piece covering the drawers and the modesty panel area.

-- "Never measure......cut as many times as necessary." - PeteMoss

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Richard

11291 posts in 3482 days


#15 posted 07-27-2019 04:41 AM

Very Nice Indeed Pete! Hav a great One!

Richard

-- Richard (Ontario, CANADA)

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