At the end of the last entry the octagonal table was left upside down with a clamp on it, having been taken apart as far as possible without occasioning any further damage. Now the first order of business was to re-glue the carved top and bottom boards, which had split along the glue lines. The bottom had one relatively clean break; the top, two not-so-tidy breaks.
First the bottom, but unfortunately the legs are still attached; well, this seemed to be the simplest answer:
with a little hand jointing to finish up. These light cuts removed the old glue, leaving new clean oak and properly mating surfaces. Since clamping pressure could only be applied in the central third of the joint, the hand jointer was used to create a (very) slight hollow.
A couple of bar clamps completed this stage; after the missing leg had been glued into place, it was time to move on to the top.
The top was more complex. There was one joint which had completely delaminated, and another which was partially open but otherwise (it seemed) solidly glued. It was tempting of course to leave well alone, put some filler into the open section and colour it in. I had a feeling, though, that the joint was not sound, and would continue to crack. So....
a risk had to be taken, and I gave the top a sharp blow with the joint aligned along the edge of the bench. Luck held, but the joint didn't. (This is not good practice. The join might not have failed, and I could then possible have broken the boards along the grain somewhere, leaving me worse off than I was before. One alternative is to try softening the glue with steam and a hot knife; another to carefully hand-saw the joint apart with as fine a kerf saw as possible.)
Now I had a top with two joints to clean up and re-glue. However the cleaning up would remove about a sixteenth on each side of the joint. Now, on a plain undecorated top this would probably not matter, but on the carved top it certainly will; any carved lines at an angle other than 90 degrees to the joint line will not meet, and this will be increasingly obvious the more acute the angles become. In the left-hand photo I've placed the three top pieces in the correct positions to ensure that all the carved lines meet, and to the right is a picture of the top glued up with two one-eighth plus oak strips sandwiched in the joints:
The wide board clamped across the middle is to prevent the whole thing from popping up in the air like an accordion fold.
This left the quite enjoyable task of continuing the decorative carving across the joints:
and then when all was scraped, cleaned and sanded, giving the "new" top a coat of stain. For this I've used an aniline water-based stain. (One of the nice things about water-based stains is that if they're too dark, you can lighten them with successive clean water washes, and if they're too light you can add more coats, and even change the shade by a judicious combination of washing and re-staining with a different colour. Also they contain no pigment, and are thus not prone to muddiness. Of course, there are disadvantages, but.......)
It was now a simple matter to re-glue the top to the stub-tenons (spigots) on the legs, using the numbered registration marks I made when taking it all apart but subsequently sanded off when cleaning up the underside of the top.
Both top and bottom have been sanded and given a couple of coats of button shellac as a sealer. They will be wax polished when all the assembly is finally finished.
Next comes the re-attachment of the sixteen skirting pieces, top and bottom. This one of those jobs for which the old hide-glue is perfect: quick tack, a little gap filling ability, strong enough for this largely decorative application, a nostalgic aroma (which some find unpleasant), and its use is appropriate for this older piece:
(My late friend Dave H. had somehow acquired a whole sack of hide-glue crystals during his career in the refinishing business, and kindly passed it on to me. The workshop mice and I now have a lifetime's supply of glue - in the case of the mice, many, many generations of life-times).
Old and new. 18th century glue and 21st century finish nailer. Oh dear, oh dear.
Perkins (truculently): Well, if they'd have had one back then, they'd have used it, wouldn't they?
Better Self (mildly): But they didn't. Nor did they have compressors and electricity and power grids and.....
Perkins (irritated): The trouble with you is that you live in past! We have to use machines! I'd be here all day otherwise..
Better Self (in a tone of smug reasonableness): But you'll be here all day anyway, won't you?
Once all the pieces were back in place (the numbering system also failed here, since the black felt marker proved to be invisible on the dark-stained backs of the skirt pieces), the table was given a good rub down with 0000 steel wool and then two coats of beeswax polish, well buffed and brushed into the carvings.
All done & polished. Also the corner cabinet.
In the background six rather plebeian windsor chairs are patiently waiting their turn.