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How we Redesign an Antique- Step one go to Picker Place- Tutorial

We have had readers ask us how we do a redesign and what does that mean.  For us, in a redesign, John takes an antique something and remakes it as something unintended; repurposed. A good example is seen in the vintage sewing machine tables. John takes the cast iron bases of the machine and makes a wooden top, or he takes the sewing machine drawers and makes them into curio boxes.

Sewing machine drawer coffee pod box


wine rack table with vintage sewing machine base

The other redesign occurs when we find an item- usually, an authenticate antique which has been damaged and no longer fit for purpose.  John then takes the broken bit and recreates missing pieces almost restoring it, but mind it is not a real restoration,  John had done a few of true restorations, and that’s a different kettle of fish.

The gentlemen’s table below is a restoration.  The finish was marred in one place and John mixed stain to fix the scratch, did a light French polish and restored the piece.  A gentleman’s traveling table has a pullout on the top which is a solid sheet of wood. The pull out is used as a writing table.  Below the top pull out is a series of drawers for clothing, paper, whatever.  These chests were placed on trains and carriages- part of the luggage as a gentleman traveled.

Gentlemen s Table restored

Now to step one- yesterday we went to our favorite picker Pat Neville’s establishment. We have gone picking here many times.  See our post on this here.

Out in the yard, I found an old wood curved dressing table with more stuff piled on it.  The veneered sides were peeling off the top, but I could see the two beautiful carved side pieces and I got  John.  John bought it after a bit of dickering. We took it home, and John removed the old wet veneer from the sides, took out the center drawer and removed the bottom stretcher…he set up the heater in the workshop to dry out the wet and swollen wood.  By the way, there was no top to this old dressing table and no mirror.

After having a root around his stash of wood, John found an old piece of a mahogany table with which to make a top and some decorative old legs he might use to make finials.  He will make a new top for the piece and set it up as a desk or hall table.  He is still searching for old finials and decorative braces to recreate the pieces missing from the dressing table. He thinks there were braces for the legs side pieces which are missing; he will make more from scrap mahogany.

All said, rather a matter of fact, but in my mind a bit of a big to do! I will let you know how things turn out.


Now here are pictures of the poor little thing in bits and pieces.  The stretcher is the bottom rail on the table that esthetically joins the piece together.


The table top was gone and you could see into the table drawer

The top of the table- without any top

The carved side pieces make the piece and are the reason we took her home.

Side pieces with braces missing..drawer in center


Top made already- vintage mahogany sanded and ready for finishing
missing finial


John’s woodpile

You will be surprised what a difference a little creative carpentry can accomplish. Working with this wrecked table showcases John’s skills at their most accomplished. I will update you as we complete steps two three four and five.

Share this lovely piece with your friends and family.