View Full Version : Box Top Repair Help?

01-20-2017, 10:17 AM
I stumbled on this interesting forum and ask forgiveness if this is the inappropriate spot to post this request.

I live in the US and on a trip to Scotland purchased a wooden box. It has always had a warped top, but I have enjoyed having this souvenir from one of my visits. I am curious if the warping can be repaired. Here you can see how the front right corner will not "close:"


Here is the box opened, if that helps analyze the piece:


Could I remove the top and clamp it between two boards, slowly tightening the clamps while introducing moisture to "warp it back" into shape? That was my first thought, but when I saw this group, I wanted to ask those who know more than I.

Thank you!

01-20-2017, 10:38 AM
Hello Frank ... welcome. Moisture alone isn't going to do it - at least IMO. You'll need some heat as well - like steam. Overall it's a pretty tricky thing to manage quite honestly. I would boil some water and put that corner in the steam .. but it might take quite some time so you'd have to keep putting more water in the pan. Then, after about 30 minutes you could try to clamp it some place flat and see. It could take significantly longer in the steam since you're working with more than one strip of wood. And there is also a chance the top could completely fall apart if the glue is water/heat soluble such as a liquid hide glue.

In some ways it might be a safer and probably easier thing to use a good quality hand plane and shave the top into a flat shape. For this I'd take the top off by removing the screws for the hinges. Then plane the 3 sides down - don't mess with the back-hinged side ... until it sits flat. It could take quite a bit as the warp is pretty pronounced ...

A couple ideas anyway ... best of luck with it.

01-20-2017, 10:40 AM
I was just thinking .. another possibility would be to remove the lid as above and put it in the microwave for some time - possibly along with a cup of water. Be careful not to burn it!! Then clamp it flat. With heat you have to work fast and the wood will regain it's fibers quickly and once that happens you have to start over.

Or in an oven with some water at something like 175* for a hour - perhaps more.

01-21-2017, 05:31 AM
Is the wood veneered? That could be a problem. Maybe steam release the veneer and make a new lid.

Another possibility is to remove the lid hardware and plane the top frame flat where it meets the box, checking with a steel straightedge.


White Pen
01-21-2017, 11:59 AM

Please don get me wrong , but take the whole box and take plan A visit someone who is a professional .

This nice box needs a pro service.

The lid frame is bend ,OK this can fixed under heat and pressure , but not at home .

SparrowHawk7 microwave tip is awesome...:lol: ...

A headed press bank is a solution sadly not to hand..:cat: think so...use Plan B

The varnished veneered lid frame is glued to the lid cover possible few nails around .
Separate both frame cover , plain the frame with clamps , use hot steam @ 60-90į C on wood :crossfingers: where the bending starts , clamp down with pressure . then cooling . repeat if not straight , resamble , sanding , varnish , polish ,done. To much work please go Plan A.:wink2:

Cheers W.P

02-01-2017, 07:21 AM
Repairing old furniture starts with the question as to how much of the original you want to preserve, which depends on the age and value of the piece, as well as your emotional attachment. You could just replace the front piece with matching wood and match the finish, but it permanently changes the character and value of the piece, so think carefully before you do that. Leaving it as it is if itís a valuable antique is reasonable. Not every piece of furniture that is old is valuable on the market, but may be to you, so the choice is yours.

Another way with minimal impact is as follows. Itís hard to tell for sure from the picture, but it appears that the top is four pieces of ĺ rabbited or dovetail together with a solid top attached somehow. Is that correct? That front piece of wood looks like it warped the way a piece of wood with reaction wood in it would bend. A normal piece of wood in a chest like that is not likely to bend that way. Thatís a tough repair. If thatís the case, it may re-bend after you do any kind of repair. Also any use of heat or steam will impact the finish.

Take the top off and clamp the piece on a strong table in such a way so you can get at both sides of the front piece. Clamp it so it will be pulling it in the direction that would straighten the front. Then aim a jet of steam at the area where the top seems to be bending - say about 2/3 of the way towards the right. The clamping pressure will (may) pull it straight, and since the clamp is pulling down as you steam, it might unbend. Then leave it clamped there for a week. There will be little or no alteration of the piece - depending on how the finish reacts to the steam. If you canít make steam in a practical way, you can put a wet rag on it and aim a heat gun or hair dryer at it, or use an old iron. Go easy and be patient!

You could just clamp the piece as described above and over a many weeks tighten the clamps a little each day. Less likely to work, but wonít damage the piece if you are careful. Wood does retain a certain flexibility over time.

It also looks like the inside was not finished like the outside, which is reasonable on the original builderís part, but created uneven moisture and may have contributed to the warping.

Also, be careful with steam. Older pieces might have been glued together with hide glue which will release when hot.

With any repair, think twice, act once.