From Victorian Era To Contemporary Furniture: The Making Of A New Antique Desk
by Daric Gill
Among my favorite things in this world is finding new lives for really old materials. I’m fascinated by the challenge presented by the reclamation process and often find myself harvesting extremely old parts to use in yet undesigned projects. After restoring a Singer Sewing machine base on a previous piece of furniture (check it out here), I was fortunate enough to have a few more fall into my lap. My latest piece is made from restoring an 1873 Singer Sewing machine base and a chopped mahogany door that I believe is from a schoolhouse of that same era. Both pieces were in severe disrepair and needed considerable restoration before showing their past beauty.
Full Image Gallery Below
As you can see, the antique door had a pretty thick painting covering the surface of the backside. To protect the identity of the original artist, I’ve taken the liberty of removing a few layers before documenting it. And in case you were wondering– no, it wasn’t a very good painting.
Another challenge in this piece was designing around the odd mounting tangent created when the top met the base. It just so happened that the mounting holes for the base aligned exactly with the seam of the floating panel and the rail & stile (terms for wood joinery). This left little ‘meat’ for the base to mount to, creating a need to hand chisel and recess a secondary piece of wood to mount. In the spirit of using all antique materials, the recessed wood was salvaged from an 1800’s Victor Upright Piano that I used on another piece. Not much is wasted on these types of projects. Even the sewing machine, weathered and slightly rusty, was given to another historical art enthusiast.
You can see the entire reclamation process after the final documentation photos. I’m quite proud of this piece and I’d be flattered if you’d take the time to look through the images and comment if you so feel inclined.
Click images to see detailed views
“DoorDesk”: Reclaimed antique mahogany door, 1873 Singer Sewing machine base, double strength glass. 29 3/4″ tall x 36″ wide, 23″ deep. 1.7.15.