Our restoration guide will give you detailed information… see more about it
There are several methods to mend a damaged wooden part.
Each of them will be used depending on the seriousness and situation.
Be aware, however, that the less you do, most of the time, the better it will be.
Ideal for filling small holes or on very small areas of damaged wood.
It can be stained and sanded but always tends to slightly retract when drying.
You need to put the wood pulp before sanding the trunk. You will put more than necessary, leave to dry for 24h and then sand.
(Syntobois) Two-component, Syntobois wood sealant hardens when in contact with air and when the two components are in contact. When dried, it becomes harder than wood, it is ideal to do up a broken part. You can use it with a formwork in order to restore a specific area.
Use it for instance if the hinge area of your trunk is broken. It can be sanded and stained; it does not retract but tends not to take the right stain. It is often necessary to mix different colors to obtain the ideal one.
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Wood hardener is a good solution for small worm-eaten areas that it will be better to keep rather than to replace. Directly apply on the area to be restored, before sanding.
Scarf joint and replacement of damaged parts
Scarf joint is a woodworking technique which consists in inserting a piece of the same species wood on a piece of furniture on which it is missing. That technique was commonly used by yesteryear trunk makers to repair a trunk wooden board.
In most cases, a new wooden part is used for replacing a backing slat or a bottom slat.
Most of the time, the bottom slats are attached over the binding and their replacement does not raise any particular problem.
You will only have, depending on how much authenticity you want, to replace the slats by true antique slats taken on an old cannibalized trunk (disassembled for parts).
Failing that, you will use new slats but, in that case, you will have to think of changing them all and ageing them to give them the required patina.
Re-building a tray
The tray is a kind of drawer that can be lifted and which is supported by wooden corners or by cleats. The tray can be found in most steamer trunks. There may be 1 to 4 trays. They are made of poplar. Nowadays, you can buy poplar plywood quite easily. You cut 4 wooden boards for the 4 sides: 2 for the width, 2 for the length. Be careful to measure your trunk and to reduce by 1 cm at least, all around in order to leave room for the future coating (of the trunk as well as of the tray). Then, in the same wood, you will cut four 3-to-4 cm wide sticks with the same length as the 2 small sides of the tray. Two of these sticks will be attached to both ends of the tray (underside), the other 2 will be attached at regular intervals. Once that done, you will coat the underside of the tray first, then both sides and you will end with the inside bottom. The small support sticks are thus between 2 coating layers (fabric, paper…)
Restoring brass, copper, bronze
It is hard to explain in writing how to brush and polish brass, but it is easy to explain what you must not do.
1. Never use products such as Miror on a trunk brass. Do not forget that, if brass will be cleaned, most often you will stain around the brass part. Leather is easily damaged by corrosive products, wood gets stained and canvas too.
2. Think of the scratches that a metal brush will make, and ban it!
3. Do not paint on brass! It is ugly and moreover, it blisters quickly as copper reacts.
4. A nice brass with patina does not necessarily need to be cleaned, why not leave it as it is?
5. When possible, treat the brass part once taken apart rather than fixed on the trunk.
The best way to clean brass is to use tepid water with a little soap, 000 steel wool and a lot of elbow grease and sweat. Next step will be polishing: first with a polishing paste which removes scratches, then with a finishing polishing paste. At each step, do not forget to take a different brush.
There are several types of metal parts on a trunk. You can find steel, sheet metal and zinc, more seldom wrought iron. Most often, the parts to be replaced are the sheet metal bottom of a trunk, or all or any of the corner metal ornaments. When it is the bottom part, the easiest way is to buy a sheet metal piece and to be equipped with a hand nibbler. That tool will enable you to cut as you wish rather thick sheet metal, for a modest price.
Anti-insect treatment liquid. Of course it can be necessary to treat a trunk. But I advise you to use that product in moderation. On the one hand it can be allergenic and I advise families with toddlers against it, on the other hand, in some cases, it is not necessary.
You will not need it if the trunk has been stripped with soda, nor in the following cases:
- Your trunk has no sign of insect activity and you live in a flat in town
- The region where you live is spared from insect attacks
Should you need to use that product, wear a mask and gloves and do not forget to brush both the inside and outside of the part to be treated.