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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I recently purchase an old crate-style box that's been a bit of a mystery. It needs very minor repair work but a deep cleaning / refresh would be just the thing to make it shine again. I'd feel better about locating the correct treatment if I felt sure of the species.

Information that might help: The hardware seems straightforward. The Burg company existed before WW2 in Germany, and had decent distribution for that time. During the war they were inoperative and after the war it became a family affair and the name was changed. So in theory the hardware is 1940 - 1950ish. I believe the crate itself to be from that time period. It is quite large, roughly 3' wide, 2 deep and 30" tall and each of the planks is quite wide, 12+,by today's standards. There are no knots / blemishes etc on the wood. The edges of the box are quite well done dovetails, very tight even after 70 years of wear. We are guessing that it's more of a personal trunk than a crate, the type of trunk you would have on a sea voyage. It has initials stenciled on the top, W T, that fits that theme. Finally, it's very, very heavy. We havne't come up with a good way to get a weight on it yet but It takes two adults to move it. If we were estimating it would be a minimum of 100lbs, potentially more like 130. For reference, I spent last weekend lugging 60lb bags of concrete around without a problem and even sharing the lift on this with my partner is a little daunting.

I'm just loading up the one picture now, of the interior of the lid. It shows the wood really well, because the interior is so clean compared to the outside, but am happy to provide a ton more pictures as requested. I didn't want to photo bomb as a guest here.

Thanks for any ideas you can give!
Furniture Wood Flooring Wood stain Floor
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for the reply, John!

My family owned an antique store during my formative years so I grew up doing restorations and repairs on all sorts of mediums. I keep my hand in now, mostly when the item I find looks like it has a long life left if someone takes an interest but may otherwise be put out to scrap. I can do a certain amount of woodwork, basic glue ups, perhaps add a little steam, slowly bring a wracked cabinet back to square, those types of things.

This crate is in good enough shape structurally that it could grace someones living room today but it sure needs to be cleaned before anyone will look at it twice. I believe it sat in someones attic for the past 50 years, collecting dust. The section between the two wall planks have separated with age in the front right corner. After a few weeks aclimating in my living room I'll slowly bring it the upper plank back down and resecure it. The plan is to strip with 0000 and vinger to remove a lot of caked on dust (but minimal actual dirt) and then to do a layer of wax as that seems to be what it's currently finished with now. I think.

I waited for some sun to come in to where the crate is so these are first thing in the morning sun! I'm so pleased to share.

Light Wood Plant Road surface Rectangle
Cabinetry Light Chest of drawers Wood Lighting
Brickwork Brick Road surface Wood Automotive tire
Wood Rectangle Road surface Brick Wall
 

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Welcome to the forum.

Those dovetailslook hand cut? Very wide angle?
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Welcome to the forum.

Those dovetailslook hand cut? Very wide angle?
They are very wide on one face and then the joining side is almost just a sliver! I'm actually not even sure if dovetail is the correct word. It's more of a dovetail / frog butt. :D I'm putting some up close pictures with me trying to hold a nickle for size reference.

I had a friend ask me why I didn't think that this was a recent construction with old hardware, because it's in such good shape, and my basic feeling on that is that there is a lot of very dense wood here for someone to have done a project recently and just donated it. I think planks this size of vertually any wood would have come at a significant cost now.

And for what it's worth, I did the structural repair last night. I'd had it aclimating with the separated corner weighed down (with a sewing machine!) to get the wood ready to move. I detached the top of the wood strapping in that area from the raised up plank and the whole box shifted to close the gap! It was like it gave a big ol' sigh of relief. Now the gap between the wood planks is fairly uniform, about a dime thickness, all around the box. So first repair done! There are others, but this was the important once since the pressure was wracking the box. Now it sits level, doesn't rock, lid is smooth, etc.

Wood Sleeve Grey Rectangle Beige
Wood Hardwood Wood stain Flooring Plywood
 

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I have had good luck using Howard's Restor-a-Finish. You can find it at Home Depot and Lowes. It will dissolve the dirt and oil on the finish without affecting the patina. I would try it on the bottom before using it on the visible wood. I have used it to restore the finish on surplus guns. I clean the wood with the Restor-a-Finish, then rub a tung oil finish on the wood. After a few coats of oil I use another Howards product Feed-N-Wax to put a final finish on it. Be aware that the Restor-a-Finish is available with or without stain in it. I use the walnut to darken the wood a bit. You can find their products here: Wood Care Products | Howard Products
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I have had good luck using Howard's Restor-a-Finish. You can find it at Home Depot and Lowes. It will dissolve the dirt and oil on the finish without affecting the patina. I would try it on the bottom before using it on the visible wood. I have used it to restore the finish on surplus guns. I clean the wood with the Restor-a-Finish, then rub a tung oil finish on the wood. After a few coats of oil I use another Howards product Feed-N-Wax to put a final finish on it. Be aware that the Restor-a-Finish is available with or without stain in it. I use the walnut to darken the wood a bit. You can find their products here: Wood Care Products | Howard Products
I've had good luck with the Restor-a-Finish in the past. I'm not sure it will be effective this time, though. My understanding is that Howards takes existing finish, dilutes it, and the redispurses it across the piece. This doesn't appear to have ever had a finishing color/stain of any sort. I'm guessing that there is a wax layer? But not much else.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
What a find, wondering if it may be Teak or Mahogany? To think of the craftsmanship that was all cut and built by hand. No power tools.
I reached out to a couple of specialty suppliers and the consensus seems to be that this is an old mahagony, possible even cuban. That's based of course on the photos, size of the planks, the timeline etc. Looking at pictures of current mahagony, what I have seems to be much tighter, denser and more linear so I was uncertain... but if you look at furniture from the late 1800s to early 1900s, undergoing the restoration process, THAT wood looks like what I have! I have to admit, it's not bad looking for a 'crate'. :D :D :D

I've finished all the 'structural' work I'm going to be doing and now I'm just letting it acclimate. Eagerness is not my friend with this type of project. In October I'll start testing the cleaning options, hopefully find something I'm satisfied with, and be ready to start exposing it to the late fall sun for darkening. After that, I can re-wax it. I don't have any intention of finishing beyond that. I'd like to stay true to the aesthetic it holds now, which has a very modern / stark look to it.
 

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Thanks for sharing this. Those have to be hand cut dovetails. A very interesting piece. I suspect it had a liner of some sort at one point. I am wondering if it might have been a case for shipping bulk weapons?
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Thanks for sharing this. Those have to be hand cut dovetails. A very interesting piece. I suspect it had a liner of some sort at one point. I am wondering if it might have been a case for shipping bulk weapons?
I wish we knew more!! I picked this up at a building salvage store in Oregon, one of the Restore locations that take furniture as well as building supplies. This was tucked in among the aging coffee tables, just 50$!! As soon as I tried to move it, and couldn't lift it by myself, I knew I had to have it.

I wouldn't think that something that took so much time to execute would have started life as a weopons crate but potentially it ended up being used as one in the end? I can't imagine it being filled with something as heavy as weopons and then actually picked up though. It boggles the mind the effort that would take. I wish I had a way to get a weight on it. Maybe it was war time bandage shipments? One gentleman suggested that it may have been ship building offcuts being used as an apprentice project in one of the wood trades. So frustrating to never know! Sure looks good in my house though! Lol.
 
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