China Cabinet Restoration

When I was little I used to look at this cabinet sitting next to the front door in the living room of my grandparents place and think how good it could look if only it wasn’t for all the junk inside. And the years of grime covering it. And the badly done white paint. And the broken glass in the door… and the fact it was missing all the leadlight panels except one which did not even fit properly.


When they died all their stuff was moved out and the cabinet spent years in my uncles garage until one day we decided to pick it up. I then it spent more years in my parents garage where the top of the right cupboard slowly unwarped. Not sure how or why but I’m glad it went back where it is supposed to be.

A couple of months back I found a night class in leadlighting, signed up and then hurriedly took measurements of the cabinet. While doing so I discovered the ill fitting leadlight had been moved from the front to the side at some point presumably to protect it. A least I now had a starting point for the restoration, however I didn’t know if should face toward the outside.


After a making a model in Sketchup, playing with some ideas on paper and a few emails to the helpful people at the Art Deco Society I decided to go with the simple idea of copying the existing design as it looked better than all the other ideas.


Photoshop of how it will look when finished.

This weekend I bought the glass, cut it to shape, straightened the lead, cut and bent it into place, assembled, soldered and puttied all four panels. All in the space of 26 hours.

It takes 3 days for the putty to dry, then patina on the solder and a final black and polish. Then onto the mission of stripping back the cabinet and revarnishing it. I’m not sure if I should take the white interior back to the original oak or leave it as is.

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