No longer does anyone look for an old trunk to be their luggage of choice when we can have light-weight, compact luggage with rollers and extending handles! Old trunks nevertheless have a great deal of appeal as decorative storage units in modern homes. Correction--they can have such appeal after restoration, before restoration they often look like abandoned, dump-ready relics. The range of possibilities in restoring trunks is virtually unlimited. Budget constraints usually make restoring trunks to their original condition an unlikely prospect, although that is certainly one possibility. As we will illustrate on this page, partial restoration or imaginative reinventing can have very pleasing results as well. For those interested in learning more about antique trunks, Wikipedia has a good article that will get you started. Some books we have found useful are listed to the right.
We will start out with an illustration of a nice looking restoration that preserves much of the appearance of age while greatly refreshing and improving the appearance.
We didn't get a before picture but in the photos to follow will try to help you see some of the work we did.
This is more or less what it looked like when it came in. We have already made and attached runners for the bottom, which appear very light, and we have replaced two of the curved cross pieces on the lid.
The two closest curved cross pieces are the two we replaced. By the time the finishing was done, you couldn't tell which the replacements were.
Here are the repairs to the lid in progress. The cross piece on the right is replaced the two pieces laying loosely over the top are the two which needed replacing. The bright orange spot in the middle is hide glue.
Here is the inside of the lid. The wood had shrunk, there was a gap between the front and back sections of wood which we filled with a wood shim glued in place with hide glue.
Hinges and other parts attached to the outside are held in place by square nails driven through the wood and cleated over. A primary reason for covering the inside surface is to hide the nails.
Here is the completed trunk displaying the interior papering. This customer had some reprints of antique maps he needed a good use for. Papering the inside is a time consuming task and often the most expensive part of the restoration process. Note the handles on the sides. We attached those also, after aging the leather.
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Here is another version of a trunk restoration. This represents a very different approach but very appealing as well. Some of the reason for this approach was driven by the cost of replacing the leather which covered the exposed wood on the outside of the trunk and the paper on the inside of the trunk. The leather and paper were removed and instead those areas were painted with milk paints, which give a very distinctive look which isn't captured in these pictures. So you know, each customer charts their own course for restoration. We help guide and then, of course, carry out the vision.
We cleaned the trunk to the right, replaced and aged the missing leather strapping and handles, and oiled all surfaces. The green areas are the original canvas.
This approach gives an aged yet revived look and retains the historical interest and integrity of the trunk.
This customer wanted the paint removed and a simple finish applied. We used tung oil and then a coat of wax to get it to the appearance you see here.
On the left, the trunk as it came in: large shrinkage crack on top, right side leg broken off, surface badly scuffed. Take our word for this last, you can't see it in this picture. Also not shown in the picture were shrinkage cracks on the bottom surface which also were repaired. The center picture is the lid with the crack opened up so we could apply glue to the mating surfaces. On the right, the trunk is repaired, cleaned, and waxed to give it an antique aged pine appearance much like it had when it came in.
Restoring Trunks, Go To Page 2 3