Replacing an Antique Chest’s Till Lid

* Take note that Issue Three will not be available in our store for much longer. If you don’t yet have a copy of this one, make sure you order now, before it’s completely sold out!

While the paint was drying, I turned my attention to the missing till lid. These lids are commonly lost and can be tricky to replace because of the integral tenons installed during the chest’s assembly. Trying to squeeze the lid in after the chest is assembled is impossible. So how to proceed?

I started by planing a pine board to thickness. Then, by resting the board on the chest, I oriented it so that the grain ran out to the outside about two-thirds of the lid’s length. I then scribed and sawed the lid to length, accounting for the tenons. I shaped both tenons for their round mortises, leaving them slightly oversized because I was not able to test-fit them yet. Then, when the lid was sized and ready to be installed, I placed a chisel next to the top tenon and gently split it off, allowing the grain to run straight out two-thirds of the way down.

With the tenons independent of each other, I was able to final-fit them into their mortises and bring the split joint seamlessly back together. I glued this long splice with hide glue using wedges to support it against the clamping pressure. The resulting glueline is virtually flawless. The joint is almost invisible from a foot away and is incredibly strong with its perfectly interlocking fibers. 

– Joshua A. Klein, excerpt from “Resurrecting the Derelict: Hard Choices in the Conservation of a Chest” in Issue Three



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