Back in September, we purchased a Lane Rhythm 6-drawer dresser that was in pretty tough shape with the intent to restore it.
Here are a number of photos showing the damage to the piece. We keep waiting to find a wad of money forgotten behind the drawers of a dresser we rescue, but this dresser just had lots of random papers and plenty of mouse droppings. Not quite the treasure we were hoping for.
Fast-forward a few months …
Notice the wall framing in the above photo. When we brought this dresser to the shop, we didn’t have our new shop space completed. As we let the Lane Rhythm dresser sit, we spent several months building out the shop. Once the shop was complete, we returned to the dresser this past week to finish it.
Measurements on the Lane Rhythm 6-drawer dresser, in case you’re wondering are: 61″ long, 31″ high, 18″ deep.
Erik is known for taking on furniture restoration challenges that few others are willing to tackle. When we picked up this Jens Risom credenza, all the defects weren’t apparent until we got it into the shop. This project took at least 20 hours for Erik to finish and there were points in the process where he felt it was going to kick his ass. But, he prevailed and the end result is beautiful.
Below are photos showing some of the defects, parts of the repair process, and the final result.
Risom Credenza Drawers
Once Erik started examining the Risom credenza, it became obvious that someone had attempted to refinish it before. The finish had been applied haphazardly and it was a sticky mess to remove. Typically, during refinishing, especially when someone is inexpert at it, the interior of the piece is not touched. Not so with this credenza. Even the insides of the drawers had been poorly refinished.
Erik had to disassemble the drawers and remove the hardware in order to properly strip and refinish them. The top picture shows the foreground drawer after sanding and the background drawer in its original state. Note the stain slopped on the original Risom label. We love labels in furniture and do our best to preserve them, which Erik managed to do as seen in the bottom picture.
He did not restain the insides of the drawers, but gave them 2 coats of shellac and 1 coat of lacquer to protect the wood.
Repairing Holes in the Top of the Credenza
This Risom credenza is actually the return from an executive desk, which means that the two pieces would have been joined together to form an “L” shape. The holes in the top of the credenza are where the desk is attached to the credenza. When selling the credenza separate from the desk, you have to repair the holes. The above photos show this process.
The first photo shows the holes before any work has been done.
The second shows the piece after sanding, with epoxy filling the holes.
The third photo is the piece after staining, 2 coats of shellac, and 1 thin coat of lacquer. Note how the epoxy-filled holes are still visible. It’s at this point that Erik had to use his artistry to grain-paint these spots, making them blend in to the rest of the finish.
The fourth photo is the finished product.
The Left End of the Credenza
The left end of the Risom credenza needed a lot of work, including removing an unneeded mounting board for the privacy panel, gluing to tighten joints, epoxy-filling a corner and more holes (lotta holes in this piece!), and a couple of other veneer repairs. The same process was followed as for repairing the holes in the top and you can see the end result.
Replacing a Piece of Trim
This Risom credenza is meant to float in the middle of the room, so the entire thing was designed to be finished, even on the back side. A portion of the trim on the back left corner was broken off and jagged, so Erik had to fabricate a new piece, glue it on, and shape it so that it matched the profile of the original. By the time he had the credenza finished, you could barely tell he had replaced this piece.
The Risom Credenza Brought Back to Life
Ta da! Here it is, the Jens Risom credenza fully restored and ready to be used by someone new. This piece would make a great entertainment center, with a slide-out tray, 5 drawers, and a space for vinyl albums or books.
I am NOT an expert and I don’t even play one on TV.**
I just thought I’d share the process I used in my first effort at using a dye stain layered beneath an oil stain in an attempt to give a little depth and warmth to the finish on this set.
The original finish was similar to a blonde finish, though in a different color/tone.
**Editor’s note: It is obvious that Erik wrote this post because he immediately starts out by downplaying any of the skill he has earned over the 6 years he’s been working on refinishing furniture. His education started long before that, when he was a boy watching his Grandma Lillian refinishing furniture. Erik’s work speaks for itself and I’m pretty sure most of the pieces he’s refinished are very happy with their new look (as are the customers who purchase them). – Mary