This is an altar table made of northern Chinese Elm. It measured 8 feet, 4 inches long and 18 inches wide. The finish was opaque, like a paint, but it was very tough and old. The client wished to have it narrowed to 12 inches wide to fit a specific location in her house. She also wanted it refinished a lighter, transparent color to show the wood grain.
Pieces of the apron sections were broken and a section of one apron was missing altogether, requiring repairing. They were attached with four, two and a half inch long, handmade spikes. The table was handmade with tenon and mortise construction. In order to retain a balance and the scrolled carvings on both sides of each end, a section had to be cut out of the center of the top, but that could not be done until the sections were separated. That was a chore since the top was assembled with four tightly fitting sliding dovetails, as seen in the lower left picture.
The legs also had to be narrowed by separating them and cutting the stretcher bars shorter with new tenons cut from them. This can be seen in the lower right picture with the narrower leg assembly on the left, next to the unchanged assembly on its right. The reassembled 12 inch top lies in front of the legs.
Antique purists would gasp at this alteration. Though Hander Woodworking hesitates to make such drastic, irreversible changes to true antiques they recognize not everybody, indeed, few people want such raw pieces in their houses, thus, many are destine for the dump. In many cases Hander Woodworking feels it is more prudent to accommodate the owners with ethical suggestions on how to approach the matter than to merely refuse consideration of it.