Here is another example of some of the work I get involved with. It’ll take relatively little carving as such but interesting just the same.  I don’t believe both pieces were done at the same time but they will make a nice set in a local church.

The chair has taken the most abuse between the two pieces. Ironically I had looked at these pieces about 15 yrs ago and was going to restore them at that time. They were not in that bad of condition. But as fate would have it I never got the pieces, the priest had them stored at another “woodworkers” home who was going to restore them when he could. Turns out he couldn’t do them, or never got around to it, and had them stored in an unheated basement which was located very near a source of water. I think the temperature fluctuations from winter to summer and the high humidity and dampness really took their toll. Now, the pieces are ready to fall apart under their own weight. Just moving them caused them to loosen even more. Parts fell off in transit to my shop. What a shame. But in a way it does make it easier for me to completely disassemble them for a proper restoration.

From what I can tell these ( at least the Sanctuary Cabinet) was made in Belgium in the late 1700’s.  The photos tell most of the story. Currently I have the cabinet completely broken down. I’ll carve and make the missing pieces as needed as well as repairs. Not so much “strip” as deep clean the finish to allow it to keep the patina and aged look of the wood without it looking brand new ( that would be a crime) and reassemble them.

Should prove interesting.

An overall shot of the Sanctuary Cabinet . The missing doors are laying on top of the cabinet.

One of the corner carvings. I had started to remove the moldings prior to photographing it.

The other corner carving.

The open base with some beautiful carvings here as well. The corner legs as well as the Linen Fold panels along the back. These also appear on the sides of the upper cabinet as well.

And the doors which were missing from the first photo.

On to the chair. It should have a seat that is hinged allowing access to the base. There is also a foot rest which should be along the lower edge of the face of this chair. The entire upper back is out at this point which will be seen in following photos. For now just the spiral uprights remain.

This is what is left of the upper back of the chair. Between these spiral uprights will be the large carved panel you’ll see next as well as a canopy with large volutes supporting it . They ( volutes) will be attached to these spiral uprights.

An overall look at how the back panel, corbels and canopy will be arranged as the back of the chair. The spiral uprights support this panel as the chair back as well as the canopy itself.

A closer view of the corbels, canopy and cracked back panel.

And a close up of one of the corbels.

Some assorted other pieces for the chair. Some wonderful carvings in this piece, as well as the Cabinet.

And one of the arms of the chair in need of some attention.

I’ll post updates as I move through the restorations. Time isn’t a factor here so I can work this in between jobs. Though I most likely will continue on them straight through. Hopefully that will allow me to remember how they go back together!

4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. dorisfiebig
    Jul 15, 2011 @ 22:52:50

    hi Mark, that are beautiful pieces, i can imagine how great they looked when they were in good shape. the carvings are beautiful, and the design well thought… it is an interesting project to make all these damage “disappear”, ,,, i wonder what you can do against the water/humidity damage. i see you need to replicate pieces, but is the humidity damage stoppable ? i mean the wood would work and move as long it needs to dry out properly again ? … anyway, i am looking forward to watch this project and see how you tackle the many different tasks …

    and, as i somehow did not come around to comment on the finished panels, shame on me, i wanted to add, that i enjoyed seeing these. they came out beautiful, and you made us forget how very flat you needed to carve them. they really stand out, a great job done. thanks for sharing.


  2. markyundt
    Jul 16, 2011 @ 16:47:47

    Yes Doris, when I first saw them they were complete and relatively stable. The chair especially was in nice shape. As you see it now is how I got it. I haven’t done anything to it yet. It came in pieces as you see it.
    The damage from the humidity will just have to dry itself out. Currently the wood has dried nicely enough for me to begin repairs. That is why it’s been sitting in my shop for several months before I started this.
    There is no “shame on you” for not commenting on the panels. But I do appreciate the comments just the same. As long as the clients like them I call it a win.
    It still amazes me how much movement and depth you can achieve in such a flat and thin piece of wood. A quarter inch (~6mm) isn’t all that much but as I always say, just look at a coin and see what was done in VERY little depth. Then a quarter inch seems like a lot!
    Thanks again,


  3. Doug Duffield
    Jul 17, 2011 @ 17:19:53

    Mark –
    This is one interesting project. I want to watch this happen. So many different tasks and skills needed to bring these pieces back. Please post your progress as I’m sure it will be very informative. Matching the old colors, alignment of the various pieces, working through damaged wood, being able to revive such artisan work … gotta love it!


  4. markyundt
    Jul 17, 2011 @ 17:39:25

    Thank you Doug! I too find it interesting for all the reasons you express. I find it fascinating how they did the work, how well it held up considering the conditions it has been exposed to. How much of today’s furniture would have held up under the same assaults on it? Much of today’s work is some pressed wood/cardboard/fiberboard with a veneer . Watch what happens when that gets wet or too humid.
    Thankfully it was done with Hyde glue which makes repairs possible. I’m considering using it again for the major connections ( not repairing cracks and splits) for the very same reasons in the future. Using conventional woodworking glues would prohibit doing repairs in the future.


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