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Finishing the Radio Cabinet


 Well, at long last - the final chapter of the Radio Cabinet saga.   I've put this project off for a few months, and there wasn't really all that much to do to finish it, and finally, it is.Click to enlarge

The avid reader will have noticed I started this project just under a year ago.  It's been one of those  projects that I would squeeze in time on where I could, then set aside while other jobs were tackled.

Most of the repairs have been finished in earlier episodes, save for one - the fragile appliqué at the bottom front was broken in a couple of spots and missing a small piece at one end.   I have to get these pieces whole again before I can proceed on to finishing the cabinet.   It's deceptively simple task to do - there is a lot of patience involved.

More Work on the Radio Cabinet


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Figure 1. The insert for the cabinet in place, made entirely from recovered wood.

It's been a while since I updated on the radio cabinet project - to tell the truth, I've only been working on it sporadically, an hour or two here and there, but progress has been slow.

The interior of the original cabinet housed the electronic parts of the radio, and was never meant to be finished.  To that end, I decided to make an "insert" for it, one that could hold the LP's in the bottom, with a small shelf above for CD's.  Something I could simply slide into the existing cabinet and tack it with a couple of brads to hold it in place (figure 1).  it's construction is quite unremarkable, so I don't have any photos of it during construction.

This would also give me the opportunity to put a back on the cabinet, at least for the interior - the view from the back of the cabinet will never be seen, and I didn't want to disassemble it - so the existing hole in the back (originally there for ventilation of the tubes and what-not for the radio) will remain, and the records inside will be protected from dust.  The back is actually a piece of 1/4" hickory plywood I had left over from making kitchen cabinets a few years back.

Hammer Veneering a New Top


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Figure 1. The finished top, ready for the next stage of the restoration.

 The existing mahogany veneered top of my latest project, a refinishing of a 1928 Brunswick radio cabinet for use as an LP player stand, was in horrendous shape.  The years of misuse were particularly hard on it...  It appears that for many years it has served as a plant stand, and had many patches of veneer missing, dented, or discolored right through the veneer.  My original intent was to patch and refinish it, but the damage was simply too great.

I decided to re-veneer the entire top (figure 1).  I didn't want to disassemble the top from the cabinet, so a vacuum press was out of the question (if I even had one).  I decided to go old-school on it and hammer veneer a new top on using hide glue.  All the veneering I've done before has been for smaller pieces - I've not done it on this large of a scale before. So, this is going to be a bit of an adventure and a learning experience as there's a few new things I'll be trying.  

A More Complex Veneer Repair

The side of the radio cabinet I'm restoring has a good deal of damage to its side.  In this article I'll take you through the steps I took to repair that damage:

Veneer Repair 

The damage is enough to seriously detract from the beauty of this 80 year old mahogany cabinet.  Some might argue that a true repair might involve replacing the entire side - or at least the veneer for it.  I don't want to get that involved or invest that much time into it, nor do I think there is any real reason to...  While this is a fairly complex repair, it certainly is not a difficult one... It's more likely to test your patience than it is your skill. 


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