Continuing Projects

Last weekend I worked on Melissa’s tester (pronounced “teester”). A tester is a wooden frame of a bedstead that usually holds a fabric canopy. The bedstead was made by the well-known furniture maker, Prudent Mallard. He immigrated from France in the 19th century and settled in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Monsieur Mallard.
Monsieur Mallard.
This Empire bedstead is very similar to Melissa's bed.
This Empire bedstead is very similar to Melissa’s bed.

Unfortunately Melissa’s bedstead isn’t in such wonderful condition as the example above. It was neglected to a certain degree and suffered a horrible mishap in a move in the last decade of the last century. It was mishandled by a band of ruffians and the tester was broken apart. The main part of the bed was continued to be used, but the tester was kept in storage… and not properly, I might add.

Most of the damage is in the right hand corner (when approaching the bed) of the tester. Essentially, it’s been obliterated in to its components. Here is a picture of the intact left side (when approaching the bed).

Perfect condition.
Near perfect condition.

And here is a picture of the of the right (when approaching bed) side of the tester. This is the side that has to pieced together…

Piecing the corner together.
Piecing the corner together.
Tester slowing coming together.
Tester slowing coming together.

The rest of it should come together this coming weekend. The left side panel of the tester has split in half and will need to be pieced together using brackets. Then I will drill new holes into the broken dowel rods that are glued into the tops of the columns. You can see the tops with two new dowel rods sticking out in the above picture.

Once the holes are drilled and the new dowels in place these pieces will be inserted and glued to the top of the bedstead post columns. Then the tester itself will be placed upon the four columns. Melissa is searching for the right fabric for her canopy, which we will add later.

I will be constructing a support frame out of 2 x 2 strips of wood. This will be used as support to the tester itself and it will be used to pull the center of the canopy up so it doesn’t sag. At one time there was a piece of wood and some metal rings that you ran the canopy through to do what the frame I’m building is designed to do, but I don’t think those pieces are around.

When all of this is completed we have some touching up to do in the areas where the veneer has been chipped and broken off. I’m afraid it will never be perfect again, but it should hold together, return to the bed its rightful drama and look fabulous!

PS. No, I have not faced my nemesis!

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