1846 Homestead Renovation,  The Art of Beautiful Living

Our New Antique Eastlake Style Dresser

Antiques Tell a Story

Antiques tell a story.  They were present in homes of the past, quietly participating in lives of people long since gone.  Antiques need care, of course, but caring for antique dressers and other antique furniture isn’t difficult.  They just need some tender loving care.

I recently “inherited” this beauty (along with several other pieces which will eventually find their way into a blog post).  The finish was dry looking and it had a build up of dust on it that had to be removed before we could begin.

I was excited about this dresser.  The marble top is free of any chips or breakage.  The mirror is full of character.  The hardware is absolutely spectacular.  But beyond that, I didn’t know much about it.  A little bit of searching provided some information.

About the Antique Dresser

First, the drawer joints are called Knapp joints.  Developed by Charles Knapp, these joints were used between 1870 and 1900.  The joint created is very strong and was the first dovetail joint that could be produced by a s.  This was a huge advancement in furniture making and furniture makers could make 250 drawers per day instead of 20!  This very distinctive feature narrowed the age of the piece considerably.

The piece also features “spoon carving” which is a characteristic of Eastlake furniture.  Eastlake is a style, not a manufacturer, so you have to look at the details instead of a maker’s mark.  There are no manufacturer markings on this piece, but there are several details (Knapp joints, spoon carving, brass hardware, and general lines) that make me think it is in the Eastlake style.  The Eastlake style was popular between 1870 and 1890.  The age of the furniture is starting to get more narrow!

“Restoring” the Antique Dresser

First, I want my antiques to look like they have been cared for, but I don’t want them to look perfect.  They are old and they need to look like they have been around for a while.  This, to me, is their charm.

That said, I want to remove any bubbled finish and smooth out any blemishes.  Think blurring a photo to minimize the appearances of any flaws.  I am not a professional and I have some techniques that make others shudder.  But, in my opinion, it is about results and getting the piece to a place where I am happy with it.

I dusted it with a clean cloth and then wiped it with mineral spirits to remove all of the remaining dirt and any build up. The mineral spirit left the finish looking dry and cloudy.

Armed with cotton swabs, a clean cloth, and scratch cover, we began to really make progress.  You can see that the oil did its job and the finish looks lovely.

One Comment

  • Kim Lenaghan

    Love this piece! And learning about Knapp joints. I too am an Eastlake fan. I have four pieces, all tables, with various shaped finials.

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