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Repairing curved cock bead molding

Zolton's picture

Last week I was called by the owner of a company near where I live. There is a big conference table in their conference room that was custom built about 25 years ago of solid butternut and Carpathian elm burl veneer.

The table is about 12 feet long, 4 feet wide, and has gently curved ends. On the aprons under the curved ends, the maker of the table kerf-bent strips of butternut and fastened them to the underside of the aprons to form a cock bead molding. Over the years, chairs banging into the aprons have cracked and eroded the cock bead. I was called in to see if I could repair it.

Now, here's the problem. The table probably weighs 1,000 pounds or more. If I could flip it onto its top I think I could use a router to remove the damaged cock bead and then replace it.

But it is impractical (and potentially damaging to the table - as well as my recently-repaired abdomen, following recent surgery) to flip the table.

Does anyone have an idea about how I could remove the cock bead while the table is still standing upright? I'm pretty sure it has been both nailed and glued in place. It wouldn't budge when I used a thumb to try and crack it free from the apron. So I think it has to be cut away from the apron rather than pried off...

I'm not able to supply photos of the problem as it takes several days, and complicated security clearance, to get into this place.

Any advice from anyone on this quandry?

Zolton

If you see a possum running around in here, kill it. It's not a pet. - Jackie Moon

hammer1's picture

Don't know if you are (post #152627, reply #1 of 9)

Don't know if you are replacing all of the bead or just repairing some sections. First thing that comes to mind is preventing the damage from happening again. Can't be good for the chairs either. Maybe the table needs some leg extensions.

If I was just repairing a section, I'd make a couple end cuts with a sharp chisel. Probably work sitting on the floor or laying on a platform. Once the end cuts are made, you can try some heat, it loosens most glues and you might be able to slip a chisel in the joint from the backside to pry. An inexpensive heat gun is handy to have. If there are tons of nails, you may have to chisel a little around them to get hold with vice grips or a tack claw. You might have to nibble away a thin slice at a time if heat won't budge the glue but it should. Even if you have to remove all of the bead, I'd still use the same method, not a router. You would have to remove the nails anyway. I wouldn't want to take a chance of making a mistake with the router, fill the room with dust or make that much noise.

It doesn't make sense to try to remove and replace all the bead working up side down ,unless it comes off pretty easy. If you are the contractor, you need to do what is necessary. If that means hiring some muscle to flip the table, so be it. It's part of the job. Where you get that helps depends on your resources or possibly, help from the clients resources. I would discuss it with them and see how to proceed. It would only take a few minutes on each end of the job.

Beat it to fit / Paint it to match

Zolton's picture

Heat...hm... (post #152627, reply #2 of 9)

Hammer,

Thanks for the suggestions. I considered using heat, but was concerned about it also loosening the veneer or lifting the finish on the aprons. I don't know what the veneer is held on with, and it would be quite complicated to replace it should it become damaged by the application of heat. But you've given me something to think about anyway.

Chiseling it off, piece by piece, was the fallback plan. And yes, the entire four foot curved strip on both ends has to be replaced. So, quite a lot of chiseling. That's why I considered using the router to at least reduce some of the work. The dust storm this would generate is a consideration though, as it is in a very nice conference room, with valuable paintings hanging on the wall...

You're also right in that probably the best thing would be to hire some muscle to help flip the table. It is so massive though that my major concern with that is not just the weight, but the prospect of its actually breaking. It is a nice looking table, but I'm not sure how well it was constructed to withstand being moved around like that.

Well, I've got some more thinking to do on this before I proceed. Thanks again for taking the time to reply..

Zolton

If you see a possum running around in here, kill it. It's not a pet. - Jackie Moon

hammer1's picture

Zolton, it doesn't take much (post #152627, reply #5 of 9)

Zolton, it doesn't take much heat to loosen glue, you direct it right at the bead joint from the back, start with the low setting on the gun. You shouldn't have to worry about damaging anything else. Once a spot starts to let go, the rest follows fairly easy. You'll get the feel for how much heat to use as you go. I take finished furniture apart all the time to replace or repair and often pieces adjacent to veneer or delicate finishes. Allow the wood to warm through, don't just blast the gun at it non stop, a little at a time with some wiggling or prying.

Beat it to fit / Paint it to match

oldusty's picture

Hi  Zolton ,              I (post #152627, reply #3 of 9)

Hi  Zolton ,

             I would try to find and remove all the nails , then try a razor knife on the actual seam or jont in the backside as well as the front f you can and a bit of persuasion , my guess the beading will come off without a router .

    Replacing the bead will be easy once the old is gone , sure it would be much easier to work on it with the table upside down but as you say the risk of damage may be greater then the gain of the repair .

 you can do it              regards , dusty

Zolton's picture

Dusty, Thanks for the (post #152627, reply #4 of 9)

Dusty,

Thanks for the encouragement! I'm going to try to get back over there next week and will try to work the bead loose from the back. The good thing is that the aprons are quite far under the overhang of the tabletop, so even if I screw up, slight damage will likely go unnoticed...

Zolton

If you see a possum running around in here, kill it. It's not a pet. - Jackie Moon

swenson's picture

My guess is that you already (post #152627, reply #6 of 9)

My guess is that you already thought of this but how did they get such a massive table into the room in the first place?  Does it come apart in sections?

Marking each nail, found with a rare earth magnet, and using a dremmel tool to make a cut on each side of the nails might allow the sections between to be removed using heat.  Then the nails with their sliver of wood could be gripped with a vise grip and pulled.

Zolton's picture

Rare earth magnets.. (post #152627, reply #7 of 9)

Swensen,

I never thought of locating the nails with magnets. That's a good tip, and I'll try it.

As to how the table was constructed, the top was veneered up in one piece. In other words, although the substrate is probably in several sections, the veneer was placed over them so that there are no seams in the top. So, 12 feet long and 4 feet wide in one, monolithic piece.

The top is, of course, bolted to the legs in some manner, so they could be taken off. But after seeing the size of the thing I never even explored that avenue, as I knew I didn't want to fool around with trying to flip that massive piece of architectural millwork.

Zolton

If you see a possum running around in here, kill it. It's not a pet. - Jackie Moon

swenson's picture

Another thought... if the (post #152627, reply #8 of 9)

Another thought... if the aprons are attached to the legs and the apron leg assembly attached to the top, unbolting the top could allow the top to be slid off onto horses or rollers instead of flipped over, leaving the leg/apron assembly a whole lot lighter to either flip or work on from inside the frame standing up where the top used to be.   Even sliding the top back a few feet could give you a lot more elbow room to work from inside the table one end at a time. 

Glad the rare earth magnet idea helped.  Good louk. 

Zolton's picture

No such luck.. (post #152627, reply #9 of 9)

The apron is attached to the underside of the table top. So unbolting the top from the legs would do no good.

I'm going over there again next week to take a look at it. But at this point it seems as though my best option is probably going to be to work on it just as it sits, from the underside. Removing the nails first, as per your magnet suggestion, and using heat might make it a bit more doable.

Then I have to find some butternut, create a perfect, curved replica of what is there now, attach it, and then finish it to match.

But I'll cross those hurdles when I come to them. The focus right now is trying to find the best way of removing the damaged cock bead without doing violence to the rest of the apron..

Zolton

If you see a possum running around in here, kill it. It's not a pet. - Jackie Moon