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Before embarking on the restoration of a piece of furniture, it is better to thoroughly inspect all the pieces (top, bottom, sides...) and take the time to check the solidity of the assemblies (base, tray, drawers...). This first step is always very useful before going further. If, as here, all is in good condition, with the exception of a few areas to review (worm-eaten feet, damaged surfaces...), it is possible to consider a restoration work.

Repair a hicked farmhouse table

Necessary material

  • hammer,
  • mallet,
  • square joiner,
  • pincers,
  • pin punch,
  • clamps,
  • hand plane,
  • wood chisel,
  • lint-free cloth
  • brush,
  • hand saw or circular saw,
  • eccentric sander,
  • combined,
  • domino milling machine or drill,
  • screwdriver
  • chestnut wood
  • wood glue
  • 10 x 50 dominoes or 10 to 14 mm trunnions
  • hue or patina (walnut husk)
  • hard oil or wax-varnish

  • Difficulty: 3/4
  • Cost: approx. 100 €
  • Time: 3 days

Evaluate the condition of the furniture

chiné table to restore

The model recovered here is of rather simple design: a drawer, a tray, a belt and four feet. There are no extensions or folding trays, which simplifies all the operations to come. Made of solid wood, this table features vintage assemblies that allow the wood to "work" freely.

Old table, traditional assemblies

The tray has a central panel and two side rails assembled with tenons and mortises, and pinned in the sockets (pieces placed at the end of the tray).
The drawer frame is assembled with a dovetail (alternation of large "tails" and narrow tenons), with a bottom taken in grooves on the sides and the front. This method of assembly was preferred for the manufacture of chests and drawers because it offers the most tensile strength that is exerted especially on the front.
The restoration work helps to learn a lot about the techniques and tricks used by the craftsmen of the past. The preservation of typical elements adds an inimitable touch and preserves the authenticity of the furniture.
In the case presented here, some parts have been partially repaired or replaced (worm-eaten feet in particular).

New stained wood

The "new" wood has been tinted so that it is close to the old one. The chestnut tree (like oak) being strongly tannic, it is possible to age artificially with lime water (a glass of lime for 2 liters of water), but the result is quite random.
To obtain a regular dark shade, it is better to use a walnut stain type dye. When the shade is almost solid, an oil or a colored varnish-wax can complete the operation while protecting the wood

1. Disassembly of the table top

remove the hardware of a table

The plate and the fittings are deposited.
The tips can be torn off the pliers, by inserting a metal plate to avoid marking the wood.

table top to restore

The tray consists of a central panel, assembled by tongue and groove, and lateral crosspieces clamped between the sockets by tenons and mortises pegged.

disassemble a table top

Disassemble the sockets by removing the wooden dowels with a pin punch.
Araser with wood chisel remaining pegs and extra thicknesses of glue.

how to fix a table top

Replace the damaged parts preferably with the same wood species.
On the new sockets, make two side mortises and an intermediate groove.

2. Assembly of the belt and the drawer of the table

replace the slides of a drawer

The slides guiding and supporting the side drawer are to be replaced.
To insert the new ones without dismantling the belt ties, dig a wood chisel bowl on the bottom rail.

replace drawer slides

Insert the end of the sliders into the bowl to push them into the original mortises.
The bowl is capped with a piece of glued wood.

Practical information

consolidate a dovetail assembly

If the thickness of the parts allows it, simply plant a few points to consolidate an old dovetail assembly.
If the wood is very damaged, stick the parts with a polyurethane glue, because by inflating slightly, it makes it possible to fill the voids.

replace the bottom of a drawer

The bottom and back of the drawer must be replaced.
Post the traces (parts to dig) at the end of the new part and on one of the faces.
Hatch the areas to be eliminated.

restore a dovetail assembly

Dig with a back saw and chisel.
The adjustment is done gradually.
The two parts of the dovetail assembly must coincide perfectly.

assemble a dovetail drawer

Assemble the drawer, then slide the bottom back into the grooves of the sides and the front.
Screw or nail the bottom on the lower edge of the back.

chamfering to better assemble tenons and mortises

To facilitate the entry of the tenons into the mortises and tongues into the grooves, slightly chamfer the edges.
Be sure to tilt the tool.

3. Reconstitution of the base

saw a table leg to replace it

The base of the feet is the most damaged part.
Draw a line of cut at the carpenter's square.
Cut with hand saw or circular saw.

to redo a foot of table

To extend the cut feet, weave pieces of wood of the same section.
The connection is carried out with a milling machine for dominoes of 10 x 50 mm or, failing that, with trunnions of Ø 10 to 14 mm.
Place at least two pigeons (dominoes or trunnions) per foot.

restore table legs

Glue all the pieces then clamp the assembly.
Note that the collages on end wood are not very effective, it is the pigeons that ensure the strength of the link.


restoring a table leg

Split wood can be consolidated by glue injection.
Use a diluted vinyl glue with a little hot water before drawing it into a syringe with a big needle.
After the injection, tighten the workpiece with a clamp.

4. Sanding and finishes of the table

sand the feet of a restored table

Sanding of all surfaces is done after gluing the replacement parts.
The tray is sanded separately, flat on the workbench.

replace the tray of a dining table

Secure the tray with the original forged tips placed in the same places.
Or from the inside of the belt, through cleats or metal brackets.

stain the wood in restoration

The differences in shades are overtaken by a shade of walnut.
Perform tests on a fall to determine the correct dosage of product.

pass a polish-wax to renovate a table

Apply a varnish-wax, a colored wax or a hard oil to protect the wood and to unify the appearance of the whole. (You can opt for a glossy or rather matte finish.)

clean the hardware store in furniture restoration

Apparent hardware (lock inputs, knobs, handles, hinges...) are replaced last, to facilitate the application of finishing products.

Video Instruction: Reclaimed Chestnut Kitchen Table | SBW