Video – Final Episode: Refinishing A Merklen Brothers “Shabby” Table

by John Werry on July 14, 2008

Well, the table is finished and it looks fantastic.  In this final episode, John Hutchinson of Rose Valley Restorations in West Chester, PA explains the process that he, Kyle, and Bill followed to bring the table to this final condition. There is a luminescence to the color due to the shellac that John mixes himself from imported flakes that can’t be captured on the video.

The table is now in my foyer next to my other golden Oak pieces, including a tall lion-crested Oak hall bench from around 1910.  They all look like they belong together.

Thanks again to John for allowing me to film the process and for creating a work of art for me.


You can view the video by using the player above or follow the instructions to view it in full-screen, stereo and High-Definition.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

james conrad July 14, 2008 at 9:47 am

The table looks great, very professional conservation. Care to share what it cost to restore this piece?

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woodwright July 14, 2008 at 11:00 am

It looks great John. Rose Valley did a very nice job on it – nice detailing on the Griffins. Any collector would love to own your restored table.
But what looks like a bargain (like the pink painted table you bought initially), takes a sizable investment either in a lot of time (if you have the ability to do do the work yourself) or in cost if you have to hire a proffesional. But the payoff comes at the end – you’ve brought back a treasure to last for many decades – maybe centuries – at least until some future owner down the road decides to paint it some hideous color again and thus start the cycle all over again.
Kudos to you for seeing it’s potential, investing in it’s restoration and videoing it for everyone to see.
Nice to see the video format – good job on your first series. Hope to see others. woodwright

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RareVictorian July 14, 2008 at 7:15 pm

James, mileage will vary based on who you get to do this work. Every professional has their own style, process, technique and what took Rose Valley x hours might take someone else 1/2 that because they wouldn’t take the time to put 8 coats of Shellac on and burnish it, and…and. Shortcuts can be taken.

All told I have less than $2k with a large portion of that for restoration. I think John put more hours in it to really make it perfect than what he and I negotiated, so realistically it should have ended up higher.

Thanks for the compliments, Woodwright, and I have plans for more videos already. I have an even more exciting restoration planned, but not sure of the timing.

I promise I will get better at producing these over time (polish), but I’d rather get more out there than over-produce less.

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woodwright July 14, 2008 at 10:33 pm

I hope Rose Valley Restorations took some good before and after pictures of your table – to put on their website. They obviously do good work, but there are not many photos on their site right now to show off and promote their ability. If not – maybe they can put a link on to your videos of the restoration. As the saying goes – a picture is worth a thousand words ( a video – or 3 may be worth a million). I know exactly how it is though. You’re always in a hurry to finish a job up, get it to the customer, get paid and on to the next job. Work frequently takes longer than expected, which screws up your schedule and commitments and work is always backing up – so taking pictures (before pics. are equally as important as after pics.) is always a low priority that rarely gets done – but should it’s an important part of the process & can come back to you manyfold. woodwright

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james conrad July 15, 2008 at 7:36 am

John, yeah, very reasonable for what he did. Finishing today can be an art form itself and high end cabinetmakers start thinking about how they are going to finish a piece before the first board is sawed.

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Charles July 15, 2008 at 10:50 pm

Kudos to you John and Rose Valley Restorations for bringing this dead table back to life for generations to enjoy and admire. I love the job you did with the restoration video–hope to see more…Charles.

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John Hutchinson July 16, 2008 at 11:07 am

To the subscribers of ‘Rarevictorian.com’. Thank you very muck for the compliments you have bestowed upon Rose Valley. However, much credit should go to John for having the ‘vision’ of the potential of the piece, when it was still pink. I have been very fortunate to have John as a client, and continue to look forward to work on any of his vast and varied projects. Stay tuned for the next one. P.s. I will endeavor to make my website a little more user friendly. Thank you. John, RVR

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RareVictorian August 1, 2008 at 8:58 am

Ran into another Oak table like mine. I think mine is prettier ;-)

http://www.liveauctioneers.com/item/521390

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