About once every few months a customer will bring in an antique trunk that they want restored. While the majority of older and antique trunk construction is wood, there are many other materials that we have to consider when restoring. Leather strapping and accents, canvas, embossed tin and other metals require an attention to detail that we pride ourselves on.
Antique trunks are every bit as varied as wooden furniture: round-tops, flat-tops, dome-tops, salesman trunks, car trunks, jenny linds, stagecoach, etc. Each had it’s own purpose and therefore had it’s own design and intricacies.
When they arrive in the shop, most trunks are structurally sound, but need the wood repaired and refinished, the straps replaced or repaired, and the metal replaced or repaired and then the whole thing touched-up and then clear-coated.
Since each trunk is composed of so many different materials, we can’t simply strip the wood and finish it like we normally would on an all-wood piece. If the canvas is damaged, we need to either repair or replace it, and then finish it with a color if the owner would like that or clear-coat it. Where the wood is concerned, we need to hand sand, stain and top-coat each piece of wood separately. After that is done, we typically work on the metal edge and surround pieces, touching them up, replacing them if they are missing and then clear coating them. Once each type of material has been taken care of, we then touch-up the entire trunk as a whole, making sure that everything visually matches. As a final step in the process, we reapir or replace any leather that needs it, making sure to match the color and style of the original leather as close as possible. We then give the entire trunk a final clear-coat to protect it from environmental and physical damage.
By the time the trunk is restored, it isn’t uncommon for our craftsmen to have spend 20 hours, and an average cost to fully restore an antique trunk is around $2000.