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Ask the Expert Question-and-Answer Archive

by Ron Joseph

September, 2008

Restoring a Cedar Chest

Q: I have a child size cedar chest 22"L x 10 1/2"W x 12"H with a "Child Life" sticker on the bottom, it was given to my mother by my cousin when he came home from the Korean War.It's been in the family about 70 years. I recently took it for "restoration," it had some cracks going with the grain in the lid and I planned to restore it and pass it along to my daughter, sentimental value to our family. I was a bit shocked when I picked it can see glue in the cracks on the top and the cracks are still very visible and he left holes on the lid where a lock clasp used to be, not tiny pin holes,they are very visible the size a nail could go through. AND he painted the inside (was cedar) with a shelac or something. He said he "preserved the history" with this repair. I am planning to find someone else locally to see if it can be salvaged. Can you tell me what I should look for in a "restoration" of this piece. Should the inside be painted, as it is a "cedar" chest and now that it is can that be removed in a restoration? Should glue be visible in the grain line and still see the cracks (for history)? This is only for my personal information, I don't want to make the same mistake a second time, I plan to investigate a little more before I take it to another shop for restoration, which I should have done the first time 'round. I don't know if this is a too specific question for your response. Came across your site online. Any help or suggestions would be greatly appreciated though!

A: Thanks for your email. Unfortunately, I know absolutely nothing about restorations and suggest that you visit some local restorers. Perhaps you can first go to some high-end antique stores and ask the owners for advice. The owners should be knowledgeable on restoration since they pay prices based on the quality of the finished antique. Also, they invariably work with restorers.


Ron Joseph

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