New Handles For a Mid-Century Walnut Dresser: Part 2

Mid-Century Walnut DresserAfter the terraced rhombus was formed, it was time to start coving. The required radius for the coves, as dictated from the original handle was 1”.  But, since the only round plane I have produces a cove of about 1-1/2”, I had to also rely on gouges, a 1” radius scraper and a sandpaper wrapped around a rubber form. 

I began shaving the corners of the terraces with my round plane, then carefully deepened the cove with a gouge. When I felt that my cove was up to spec, I finished it off with a round steel scraper and sandpaper over a rubber form that is part of a very handy kit of hollow and round contour sanding grips that I have. 

Mid-Century Walnut Dresser Mid-Century Walnut Dresser Mid-Century Walnut Dresser Mid-Century Walnut Dresser Mid-Century Walnut Dresser New Handles For a Mid-Century Walnut Dresser B18 New Handles For a Mid-Century Walnut Dresser B17 New Handles For a Mid-Century Walnut Dresser B16

Next came the parting of the rhombus into the two triangles (I used my bandsaw). Once this was done, and after jointing the sawn edges and rounding the corners of the triangles, I was up for shaping the valley.

New Handles For a Mid-Century Walnut Dresser B15 New Handles For a Mid-Century Walnut Dresser B14 New Handles For a Mid-Century Walnut Dresser B13 New Handles For a Mid-Century Walnut Dresser B12

I saw a few relief kerfs across the valley and with a chisel chipped away the waste. I finished up with a file and some sand paper.

Ms. G's handle New Handles For a Mid-Century Walnut Dresser B11 New Handles For a Mid-Century Walnut Dresser B10Finish & Patina

My client’s dresser received a fair share of sun exposure over the many years it stood in her bedroom. Since walnut gets lighter and more yellow after sun basking, I thought that I needed age the handle to match the piece. I contemplated a few ways to do so. One would be to stain it with orange dye prior to applying the wipe-on urethane finish. The other way was to let the finished handles sit on my window ledge for a few days to lighten up. I even contemplated getting them into a tanning salon for some uv therapy but abandoned this idea for the fear of becoming a laughing stock by the people who run the joint.

So, after a few days on my window I drove to my client’s house and installed the handles. They look quite good and I hope that over time they will blend in with the surrounding wood even better. If I had to match new walnut to old walnut again I would consider buying a UV bulb and experimenting with tanning the wood at home—or better yet, write to Bob Flexner and ask him for his advice… 

New Handles For a Mid-Century Walnut Dresser B9 New Handles For a Mid-Century Walnut Dresser B7 New Handles For a Mid-Century Walnut Dresser B4 New Handles For a Mid-Century Walnut Dresser B5 New Handles For a Mid-Century Walnut Dresser B3 New Handles For a Mid-Century Walnut Dresser B2 New Handles For a Mid-Century Walnut Dresser B1

 — Yoav Liberman

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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.

3 thoughts on “New Handles For a Mid-Century Walnut Dresser: Part 2

  1. miathet

    Well written post enough text to explain the pictures. I like the design and the technique and might make something similar.

  2. Ziggarelli

    Gorgeous final result, the handles look great and the restored piece looks amazing. The precision in your technique is fantastic.

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