Beginning a Victorian Woodworking Project… Part 1

Bringing back  pieces of a Victorian style cabinet from California this past month, a project my father-in-law had begun refinishing back a few years ago, I wasn’t sure what I was getting myself in for…

view larger image ofEighteenth-century French Carved Walnut Panettiere For Sale

I had seen antique French panatiéres on the internet, like this one found on 1stdibsand was mildly excited (okay, really excited!) when I found this pile (below) in the big shed while my husband was cleaning it at my inlaws’ home.

We think we found all of the pieces to it and I know I have all 22 spindles, which is cool! 

So even if I can’t recreate the original cabinet, I may be able to put enough of it together to make some kind of panatiére instead.

Laying out the pieces in my inlaws’ backyard. Notice the four big spindles??!
That’s what makes me wonder if this is some kind of panatiére….

I started laying it out again this past weekend and sanded all of the pieces for these side pieces. I was able to get one side together before the high humidity and 95 degree temps got to me. 

It threatened rain in the night so I hurried out at 3am to bring everything inside the dining area to protect it. Beginning again on Monday morning after breakfast and a walk with Yoda, I worked on side #2.

It was really warped and that’s where most of the water damage was. It took a lot of sanding and “motivation” with the mallet and sweat equity to get the second side all together. 

I even had to sand the warped tenon and the articulating mortise to get the wider middle piece to fit together (the bugaboo in this project). You can see how warped the long connecting piece is above.


It was joining to this other warped piece which holds a shelf… Crazy! It took a lot of thought and about two hours to put this side together and get it glued and clamped.

Here are all the pieces laid out and side one (right) clamped with side two (left) to still join. I only had enough clamps to do one side at a time. I’ve since bought one more pipe clamp ~ the really long ones. Part 2 of this woodworking tutorial project can be found here.

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Will keep you posted,

11 thoughts on “Beginning a Victorian Woodworking Project… Part 1”

  1. Thank you, Debbee! I am researching French cabinets and panetiéres now. Today I'll be putting it together (dry fit) and see what parts might be missing. A lot of wood was ruined in that shed due to possums getting in there over the winter (they burrowed through an opening created by the Minnesota oak roots lifting the right side of the shed…). Charles had a wheelbarrow of wood that had to be tossed just because it was too damaged. We looked through and think we found all the pieces for this cabinet/shelves. Charles fixed the shed's hole once he had everything cleaned out. Should be good until we get back to visit again!Excited to see where this goes! Thank you,Barb 🙂

  2. Wow how exciting to have found this to bring home. I can't wait to see how this turns out. I'm rooting for you, it's a big job but so worth it in my opinion. Keep me posted!Cindy

  3. Thank you, Jackie! Nice to hear from you!! I'll be working on it again this week and see what might be missing. Say hello to Eric and the kids for me,Barb 🙂

  4. What a great project, Barb! Working with warped wood is no fun….I may have done it a time or two. I can't wait to see your progress!

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