Gently Caressing History
The mantel is a catalog piece. It was not particularly expensive in its day. The wood had a tinted shellac finish originally, making the wood look better than it was.
In time, a roof leak developed, and for many decades a steady drip drip drip fell upon the left side of the mantel, eroding its tinted shellac finish.
And, too…the left side of the “shelf” bowed.
Since buying the house in 2014, the bowed shelf has bothered me. While the room is a wreak, the mantel seemed particularly depressing, like a kitten left out in the rain. The poor dear.
Yesterday, I decided that it would be nice to begin the process of restoring the mantel. The surrounding room will take many, many months to restore, but it seems a good idea to restore the mantel first, as a kind of inspiration piece.
Decades ago, in Old House Journal, I read about a trick to unwarp boards:
Lay the board down on wet grass, on a sunny, hot day. Warp side down. Wait a few hours. The sun will “lift” the warp! Be careful about the timing though. Too much sun and the board will warp in the opposite direction!
This is an effortless, free fix, and I have had nothing but success with the method for four decades. However, it is now too cold for this to work on the shelf, so this will be a project for the spring. In the meantime, I will restore the rest of the mantel, and then reinstall it, with the still bent shelf (for now).
I am excited about this small project!
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