Barrister Bookcase Restoration – Shelf Repairs (Part 2)

You can find part 1 of the Barrister Bookcase Restoration here.

The first piece of work I decided to take on was replacing the missing piece of wood on the front edge of one of the shelves.

Luckily, I had picked up a number of pieces of white oak for a couple of bucks each. This dimensions and grain just happened to match up nicely with what I needed here. The remainder will also be useful for the creation of the replacement cover frame later.

Preparing for Repair

When you are trying to splice in a broken piece of wood during a repair, things will go a lot easier if you can remove ragged edges first. By cutting a flat reference plane at the damage site, it is much easier to shape a replacement piece. So, out came a wide chisel and I formed a flat surface at the break.

It probably doesn’t look much different but it is. The flat surface allows me to use a plane to shape a matching surface on the replacement piece of wood.

Choosing the Patch

I could use almost any piece of scrap oak if this repair was on the side or back of the shelf. Since it is on the front of the shelf, it is important that the patch not only matches in shape but also follows the grain of the original piece. This will make it much easier to disguise the repair later during finishing. I cut a wedge shaped piece of oak on an angle that attempted to align with the grain of the shelf.

You can see that I was lucky enough to find a piece where the grain has a very similar character to the wood it is replacing.

Shaping the Patch

The next part is the tedious one. It involves the shaping of the patch to match the damaged area of the shelf. I do this with a combination of planes, chisels, rasps, and files. Th process is hold the patch in place, look for high spots where it meets the damaged area, shave off a little, and check the fit. Lather, rinse, repeat, and repeat, and repeat…

I’m sorry I didn’t take more intermediate photos but I got so caught up in getting things to fit that I forgot. In any case, here is a picture of the roughly shaped patch.

At this point, the flat angle on the back of the patch was mating well with the exposed surface of the repair while maintain grain alignment. Next step was to glue it into place and begin trimming it to align with the shelf surface.

Final Shaping

At this point, it is a matter of shaping/carving the patch to blend into the existing wood. Again, I use a combination of a block plane, chisels, and various rasps and files (conveniently held in my ABS Pipe File Rack). The front of the patch was actually pretty easy to deal with as it is mostly meeting flat surface to flat surface. The outcome looks pretty good and I think the refinishing should hide the patch nicely.

The bottom of the patch was a bit more of a challenge. There is a curved cavity under the front edge of the shelves. This is to provide clearance for opening the glass front of the shelf stacked below it. As such, I had to do a bit of carving to match the patch to the curve of the shelf to make sure there will not be any interference when it is complete.

I know there is a gap but that is only on the underside, it shouldn’t be visible once things are finished up.

One challenge down, a bunch more to go…

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