Restoring an old cabinet part 1: Loose joints

Sharon is a reader of my Hebrew woodworking blog ( A month ago he decided to restore a nice looking cabinet that he owned. He wanted to achieve two things: to strengthen the carcass by reconnecting loose joints, and to refinish the surface of the piece. The piece's top is connected with dowels to the main dividing panel. Over the years the piece's bottom sagged and the divider detached from the top. As for the refinishing, Sharon asked me what would be the best way to refinish it, and wondered if the piece was originally finished with shellac, would that make it more complicated to refinish.

In this entry I will portray the condition of the piece prior to the restoration. The following entry will demonstrate the strengthening of the loose joinery. Finally, in the third entry I will address Sharon's question about refinishing.

I included a sketch of the loose joint and Sharon's pictures of the furniture prior to the restoration. You can see the structural problem and the loose dowel joints.


American Woodworker Blog
Yoav Liberman

About Yoav Liberman

Yoav S. Liberman is a woodworker and a teacher. His pieces have been featured in several woodworking books, most recently in Robin Wood’s CORES Recycled. Yoav teaches woodworking at the Rudolf Steiner School in Manhattan, and also frequently guest teaches in craft schools across the country.  Between 2003 and 2011 Yoav  headed the woodworking program at Harvard University's Eliot House. Yoav’s articles have appeared in American Woodworker and Woodwork Magazine. He frequently contributes woodworking web content to a number of digital publications   Yoav has a degree in architecture and later held two competitive residency programs: at The Worcester Center for Crafts in Massachusetts, and the Windgate Foundation Fellowship at Purchase College, New York. He lives in Chestnut Ridge NY.