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Exceptional, this cabinet carved in the tradition of Finistère! From old doors found in an attic, Jean-Paul Cousinou has built a piece of furniture faithful to the regional style.

Rebuild an old cabinet

Level: confirmed
Achievement: several hundred hours
Cost: 200 to 300 euros (excluding doors)
Equipment: combined wood, ripper

See the plan of this realization (in pdf): Cabinet of Quimper: the plan

Passionate about furniture and woodwork, Jean-Paul Cousinou is not a beginner. Specializing in the production of miniature furniture, he discovered in the attic of his grandchildren two beautiful carved doors. After a thorough investigation, he built around them a cabinet consistent with what could be the original. A superb realization, carried out during two years during summer stays in a place where it had a space adapted to the size of this imposing piece of furniture.

"From various documents on regional furniture, I was able to determine that these were the doors of a Quimper wardrobe dating from the early nineteenth century: decoration with religious motifs, entries of locks" with civil figures ", that is to say decorated with the symbols of card games (heart, clubs, diamonds and spades) ", explains our reader.
■ Characteristic of these cabinets, a panel with carved panels is inserted between the two lower rails, instead of the lower drawer. It forms a kind of chest at the base of the furniture, evoking the famous linen presses cabinets of the neighboring region of Leon.
■ For the rest of the project, Jean-Paul Cousinou was confronted with a lack of documentation. The specialized works are interested in style, not in construction details. The cabinets of Finistère being generally installed in row along a wall, their sides, like their back, appear stripped. Result: only the facades are illustrated in the books.
■ Our reader was inspired by the structure of a cabinet originally from Guérande. Its sides comprise five panels, arranged in two vertical pairs separated by a horizontal panel. The bottom has eight panels divided into two rows: four at the bottom, three at the top, and a horizontal separation.
■ Luckily, the doors had kept their hardware almost complete: the keyholes, the laces with the integral part of the frame and the original square nuts. This made it possible to determine the thickness of the original amounts of furniture (55 mm).
■ The general data determined, it remained to establish the plan - including the details of the assemblies - and the debit card. In a similar situation, you will be able to draw inspiration from them, as well as from the author's rigorous investigation.

From the documentation to the workshop

Although the original doors are chestnut, Jean-Paul Cousinou opted for an oak frame. And not just any: old country wood, "all coming" with its defects, as used by the old ones. The best parts are reserved for visible parts and structural elements. The least beautiful or weak woods are used for back panels. One of the doors must be dismantled: a part of the flower bed, worm-eaten, is replaced by a graft (see the realization of photos 4 and 5).
■ For the delicate work of carving the bandeau, he chose motifs common to all of western Brittany: the rose window (widespread throughout France) and the "glazik" (a typical doves typical of this region). The structure of the five-element headband - three panels and two uprights nested within each other - facilitates operations.

The framework

The structure of a cabinet frame is well known. The joints are made with pegs and mortises. The panels are flush with the sleepers and the uprights. The specific lower strip of the facade is assembled with grooves and tongues.
■ One point deserves to be detailed: the connection of the high front rail with the amounts. Jean-Paul Cousinou undertook a complex assembly: mudfloating. This assembly combines a mortise and tenon assembly inside the cabinet and a miter cut on the front. It makes it possible to obtain an apparent connection at 45°, in the extension of the angles of the doors (secured by the same method). It leaves enough material on the back of the amount: thus, the meeting with the high side cross stays solid.
■ The necessary blank mounting (without the panels) makes it possible to check the correct positioning of the doors and to identify the location where the plugs are screwed. Some ornaments are then added. The rectilinear moldings of the uprights and front rails are machined by the router, equipped with a plunge quarter-round milling cutter (without bearing). This machine is also used for the chamfers and the grooves of the periphery of the panels. The beds are machined to the top.
■ The final assembly is carried out in stages: the intermediate uprights and the crosspieces of the back as well as the sides are secured to the panels, before connecting the whole frame. Anchored assemblies are not glued to respect old methods. The only acceptable glues would be those of animal origin.
■ In a tight row along a wall, period cabinets had a cornice on the front, if at all. Jean-Paul Cousinou has made a complete (front and sides), inspired by profiles discovered in his books. Here, the three elements of the cornice, assembled with miter cuts, are joined by triangular pigeons.

Finishes

On a piece of furniture of such quality, it is obviously not a question of being content with two layers of varnish applied quickly. The doors are gently cleaned here to preserve the original patina. "Connecting" the new to the old one required a lot of color testing. The final choice of the finish is three passes: two "dark cherry", followed by a "rustic oak" (note that these names cover different shades from one brand to another). The piece of furniture then receives a fondur, then a masthine with alcohol.
■ The hardware is completed by an old lock, the original one being non-existent. The lock, the inputs and the plugs are cleaned and deoxidized.

Sculpt the headband

Sculpt the headband

The first work is the sculpture of the elements of the low band. The patterns are typical. There is no point in tackling the closet until this meticulous work is done!

Embed decorative elements

Embed decorative elements

In the center, a stylized dove or "glazik", a classic of the ornamental repertoire of low Brittany. The uprights and two other panels are decorated with rosettes, raised on the first, hollow on the second. The elements of the headband are interlocked by grooves of 8 x 10 mm.

Replace a damaged part

Replace a damaged part

On one of the recovered doors, the edge of one of the panels was irreparably damaged. Disassembly was necessary to cut the worm-eaten area and graft a new part.

A particular assemblage

A particular assemblage

The dismounted door frame unveils in detail a particular assemblage: the mudfloat burring, made by the craftsman of the time. This assembly will be taken by our reader to connect the high cross to the amounts.

Hollow amount in miter cut

Hollow amount in miter cut

On this type of assembly, the amount is normally mortised. Two saw cuts, one at 45° across the mortise and the other along his cheek, then partially visible the amount, in miter cut.

Tenon plated against the edge of the upright...

Tenon plated against the edge of the upright...

The rear leveling of the stud of the transom is normal, but that of the siding is machined at 45°: the first plate thus against the edge of the upright, while the second is mitered.

... or mitered

... or mitered

Go to blank

Go to blank

When all the parts have been dimensioned, and the different machined assemblies, it is time to perform a blank assembly, without the panels, in order to correct any errors.

Mark the piercing points

Mark the piercing points

The blank assembly is also an opportunity to present the doors, not only to control their installation, but also to locate the location of the fastening hole of the laces.

Solid wood for the back

Solid wood for the back

It would have been a shame to make a plywood back for such a piece of furniture. The panels of the back are therefore solid wood, which implies to multiply the number: eight in total.

Assemble the intermediate amounts

Assemble the intermediate amounts

The intermediate amounts are assembled with tenons and mortises. Respecting the ancient processes, always saving in material, our reader realized thin panels: only 10 mm thick.

Sides of the cabinet

Sides of the cabinet

Unlike the original models, the sides of the side panels are facing outwards as the cabinet is now visible on its sides. The back panels remain facing inwards.

Support floor, ceiling and shelves

Support floor, ceiling and shelves

Cleats attached in the sides support the floor, ceiling and shelves. Another solution: use wooden racks. A less purist technique, but more functional.

Form the floor

Form the floor

The floor of the cabinet is rustic, as was the original one. It is a series of short boards, arranged from front to back and simply juxtaposed without machined assembly.

Ornate uprights and sleepers

Ornate uprights and sleepers

All the uprights and the facade crosspieces are decorated with long rudented moldings (that is to say in the shape of a rod). These are pushed to the router with a plunge quarter-round cutter (pointed end).

Recreate the profile of the cornice

Recreate the profile of the cornice

The profile of the cornice is recreated from original models. To facilitate the machining of the router, the molding is formed of two thicknesses of wood, machined separately then glued and pegged.

Renovate the hardware store

Renovate the hardware store

The hardware is thoroughly cleaned and deoxidized. However, care should be taken not to push this renovation to the extreme: too polite, the metal would look

finishes

finishes

After many attempts to tint and careful work, the two doors are totally confused with the entire new cabinet. And we no longer distinguish the different species used - oak and chestnut.


Video Instruction: RESTORATION - ANTIQUE ART DECO VANITY/DESK