Taisho Era Kyodai–Restoration Complete

I took a step back after every piece of hardware was fitted, everything was right, tight, and anything that was mobile was moving as it was supposed to be. Is there anything else? Did I miss something? Did a shitty paintbrush drop a hair in the varnish again? Did I accidentally scratch the surface again like a goddamn moron? No. It’s good. Fuck yeah.

I don’t have a lot of in progress files to share with this one. I took some for personal references and private conversations, but I never had the intention of creating a tutorial. I’m not good enough at woodworking to be teaching anyone anything, I feel. So you’ll have to be satisfied with the finished product.

Most of the work with this piece was sanding. Sanding, grinding, filling, sanding, reshaping, cleaning, sanding, and then when I was done, more goddamn sanding. It was great. With the exception of nails and screws, all of the original hardware is present. I mixed my own woodfiller for the big gaps, because I’m a big fucking nerd like that. I didn’t bother to refinish the handles because I didn’t want to risk damaging the original finish. I don’t mind that they’re a little worn. I’m not one of those people that rips off a finish with steel wool. Instead a little mineral spirits to clean them up was all I did.

I used a warmer finish, because if I was going to take off everything anyway, then I was going to pick a color that I would have picked for myself. And “exotic redwood” had me at “hello.” Yes. It said hello to me, because I was delirious and tired after looking at a bazillion wood stain options. It grew hands, danced about with a little tophat and cane, and told me that the time to overthrow the the great lizard warlord in the sky was extremely fucking nigh. I think the rhyming was a coincidence, though. Don’t worry, I don’t generally take my advice from dancing cans of oil based wood stain, and it stopped talking soon enough.


Anyway, after that was several layers of varnish.

Oh yeah. And the mirror. The fucking mirror. The mirror that broke my heart several times.

For this project, I learned how to resilver a mirror.

But this is not the mirror that is mounted in the kyodai now. Because the glass was just not to be saved. First it was problems with etching–something about the way the glue and the original backing was decaying in there had caused the surface of the glass to etch. Well, fine. I thought I could just handle that with some artistic etching. Well as it turns out, there were flaws in the glass on both sides. So what was actually a well resilvered mirror for about a week suddenly started to crackle again. There really wasn’t anything else I could do.

So I got real fucking angry at it for awhile and walked away for a bit. Then I just took a breath, thanked the mirror for being old as hell and for teaching me a new skill, and ordered a new fucking mirror. Sometimes it do be that way–sometimes you have to let go of a part if it’s killing your project.

Moving on, let’s compare damage, shall we?

I called this spot this projects “the one that’s going to fuck with me.” It’s still there, but it’s filled in and solid now.

Resurfacing wasn’t too much of a challenge. Most of the scratches were pretty superficial, and therefore not difficult to wipe out.

This piece had a big ass crack in it that I had to stabilize. No problem. Can you find it?

The frame had several gaps to fill. Other than that, it was kind of like fitting a puzzle back together.

I went to great lengths to preserve the wood grain detail. I think I did okay!

Now on to some weird choices I made:

I lined the boxes in red velvet. This is because rather than using it as a sewing box (as you might remember from the original post, I was looking for a haribako), I am going to use it as a jewelry box. This red velvet has a self adhesive back that, as I tested, will come right up if pulled. This means that it’s completely non-destructive and it will protect the wood inside the drawers from being scratched.

I chose a satin finish rather than a gloss. This is because I like that better. Fight me.

And I think that about does it. This wasn’t that complicated of a project aside from the mirror part. I’m glad to have it, and I’m glad that I took the time to fix it up. I had a blast doing it, and I hope I did the original owners proud.

Okay, I’m out of things to say now.


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