Creating an Antique that is Custom Made

Creating an Antique that is Custom Made

You might say we have a thing for antiques.

Beyond restoring antique furniture, we also create custom one-of-a-kind pieces that help showcase one’s personal heirlooms and treasured keepsakes. One such project was completed recently, and we can’t resist sharing it with you.

Our client Dr. Saul was gifted a solid bronze propeller by his late friend Mr. Teddy Tucker, an item salvaged from a 1914 utility vessel wrecked off Two Rock Passage in the Great Sound. We had previously fabricated and restored furniture for Dr. Saul, but this project was the proverbial icing on the cake.

Dr. Saul decided to incase the bronze propeller in a custom mahogany display. As a collector of bronze salvaged from shipwrecks, and an avid supporter of underwater exploration, he was thrilled to acquire this historic piece and display it in all its glory.

We spent dozens of hours incorporating creative details; from the shape of the feet and base, to the joinery of the frame. Most previous display cases we created for our clients were inspired by an original design, however Dr. Saul’s was created without reference; truly a one-of-a-kind piece.

The display case is genuine mahogany with the dovetail corner inlay, the diamond escutcheon inlay, and the base for the propeller, all made out of lignum vitae.

Lignum Vitae is Latin for “wood of life” due to its usages for medicinal purposes in the form of tea. It is also widely regarded as the world’s densest wood and has been used for applications such as cricket and bowling balls over the years.

Dr. Saul had the piece of Lignum Vitae and brought it to us for use in the project. As you can imagine, it was extremely hard to cut and shape into dovetail and diamond inlays for the top. Nonetheless it worked, and was worth it.

South American mahogany was chosen as it is one of the highest quality mahoganies available for its strength and beauty when compared to other mahoganies, making it a go-to species for fine furniture.

Building the display case was quite a strenuous project owing to the density of the wood as well at the detailing. The propeller required three men to lift it so we needed to construct a case that had a solid base, and feet that could support the propeller weight.

Shape and detail were integrated into the feet and base so that despite the propeller weight, it wouldn’t distract from the form and beauty of the display case. The dove-tailed joinery, which can be seen once the top is opened, locks the frame together so that the joints cannot be compromised with the weight.

Both the dovetail and diamond inlays on the corners, and the escutcheon of the top, added additional charm to the piece and gives it the contrasting accent it required.

Lastly we sourced hardware from a supplier that specializes in old-world hardware, and worked closely with Island Glass on the thickness and beveling of the glasswork. The glass choice was crucial as it helped redirect the light to better showcase the propeller’s polished bronze.

By now you can see how beautiful the display case turned out, and how we helped Dr. Saul pay homage to his late friend. Both individuals shared a passion and enthusiasm for the unknown, and we are extremely grateful to be a small footnote in their story.