Hello again, so we have finally finished this project and I hope to fill it with my clothes this afternoon when the final sealer coat is dry. I am so excited!!

Here’s what happened over the last few days. I have decided to order the cabinet steps from feet to top so the post is not so confusing. The work was not carried out in this order.


At the bottom of the cabinet are the feet, so we will start there. The original feet had seen better days and had a touch of borer. So hubby remade them out of offcuts of Oak. The new feet are slightly different in the detail of the cap, we decided the negative detail on the inside of the foot cap on the original foot didn’t look right. My armoire now has new shoes!





On careful inspection the base board had a splash of borer nibbles and since we had some wood left over from the new top panel we decided to construct a new base as well. Hubby glued the remaining plank of oak to a plank of pine with gorilla grip glue and clamped them together to let dry. The piece was then sanded, marked and cut to shape. Last step was to attach it back into place. The reason we used two woods is because we didn’t have enough of the Oak left to do the whole panel, and we wanted Oak to be the visible piece when the door is opened for visual continuity.

SIDE’s anyone?

For the sides we took two passes with the sander, once with 80 grit sand paper and then with 120 grit for the cut back and polish. Hubby also replaced the inner battens for strength. Here are the pics.


We decided to add in some extra detailing on the side with some Rimu trim. The idea was to create a faux panel look that complimented the front art deco style trim design. We also carried a little extra trim around to the front base to pull the look together.



On day one the top was replaced, there was no way around it. The piece had been eaten out by borer who had taken their fill and long since departed. This is where a little bit of recycling came in to play. We had an old oak table top that was near enough the same age. It had been kicking around the shed for some time and may have recently been snapped when hubby tried  to use it for a motorcycle ramp…. *sigh*. So a quick check revealed there was enough to use and we got to work. Pretty much the same steps as the base board,but with a single piece of wood.



The doors were removed and sanded twice on day one. First sanding pass was with 80 grit and the second with 120 grit. We discovered one of the doors was severely bowed. Hubby applied weight to the door to try and straighten it. Approximately 90kg’s was left on the door for 2 –3 days. The bend has not completely gone but I’m willing to live with it.



When the doors were rehung. We discovered that the cupboard was out of alignment. This is probably due to the replacement of the top and bottom boards and the stronger battens in the sides. To fix this we carefully marked the doors down for trimming.

door cut downdoor cut down

Lastly, the J-mould trim that ran up the centre of the armoire needed replacing as it had been snapped and was destined for the rubbish. Originally the trim was on the door with the lock fitting – the bent door. The other door’s inner edge was in worse state than the lock door so a decision was made to swap the beading to the other door to conceal the damaged area. Our biggest test turned out to be in finding the right J-mould trim in rimu. We went to a number of places and ended up at a small specialist trim shop called ‘Rickmans Mouldings’ tucked away in an industrial area in south Auckland. The owner informed us the shop was a family business and had been in business for approx 150 years. They owned a number of specialty knives, including the one we needed which had been used in their shop since the 1920’s. They were also the only place in NZ that had that particular J-mould knife so chances are 97% that they made the original trim for my armoire. How fortunate that we found them and that the knives was still in service. We picked up our J-mould Trim for a very reasonable price and headed home to fit it.

The door trim got a good sanding twice with 80 grit and once with 120 grit sand paper. here are the results.



The entire cupboard got a good dowsing with borer treatment. We removed the worst of it with the replacement panels but there were still a few stray holes here and there. We purchased a spray can variety that came with a straw nozzle for accuracy. In hindsight my recommendations would be wear gloves, and turn your head away and close your eyes when spraying each hole to avoid spraying yourself in the face. If you’ve ever done this before you will know what I mean.

The pictures below detail the worst of the borer damage that was replaced and the borer treatment we used.


Bog it, sand it, disguise it… Tip alert!


There was veneer damage, a few borer holes and a chip missing in the side – pull out the master of disguise kit.

This magic kit includes:

  • coloured wood putty
  • putty or palate knife for application
  • sand paper
  • 3 shades of artist oil paints ( I used ochre, burnt umber and burnt sienna)
  • liquin, or lean artist medium to assist with rapid drying and transparency of the paint.
  • cotton buds
  • zip lock plastic bag

First steps are relatively straight forward. You want to pick a putty as close to the colour of the wood you are working with as possible. Be aware the final result will dry lighter than what it appears in the tin, so if you have a choice go for a slightly darker tone and don’t be sucked in by what the label says the colour is because the labels are never accurate. Unfortunately our choices were limited to what was in stock at our hardware store, so I chose tawa coloured putty. There was an Oak available but the colour was almost white and not suitable at all. dab generous amounts into the holes and level off with the putty knife as best you can. wait for the drying time to elapse and then give a light sand to level off any remainder bumps. Refer to pictures above.

To conceal the marks a little artistic license is required. I used three a tiny bit of different colours of oil paint and a small amount of liquin, or lean medium. You want to match the colour as close as possible (keeping in mind what the finished result will look like once varnished or sealed. You may want to do a test on an off cut first). Just mix a little of each until the right colour is reached and thin out with liquin to a transparent tint on a clear plastic bag – this will act as a disposable palate, you may want to put a white piece of card or a piece of the wood into the bag to ensure the colour is correct. When applying the solution to the mark/s be careful to only apply to the affected area and not the surrounding wood. Remember this is oil paint and you don’t want to have to start again by having to sand out any resulting oil marks in the wood.

In application you want to make sure you work in the same direction as the grain and try and mimic the colour variation and grain marks next to the patch. I used a double ended cotton bud to apply the paint mixture. I found cotton buds to be ideal for this type of work because the absorb a lot of the solution which ensures a smooth application with no excess paint. Leave to dry, you may choose to reapply if you’re not satisfied with the result and that’s fine just make sure you leave to dry and give the patch a light sanding between touch ups.

Easy clean up procedure turn the plastic ‘palate’ bag inside out and put the used cotton buds in the bag for disposal.


can you spot the repair??



Shiny bits – fittings

We kept as much of the old fitting as we could. We also added a few.

New additions include 4 new hooks and a new rail. The old fitments got a spruce up and a bit of a polish with car cut and polish and wet and dry sand paper.





Sealing phase –  finale

Materials used:

Polyurethane, 2 good quality brushes, wet and dry polishing sand paper, waxy tack cloth.


We chose a clear matt sealer that has a very low sheen and lets the warmth of the wood glow through. FYI – The lower the sheen the more sins it hides.

Sealing phaseSealing phaseSealing phaseSealing phaseSealing phaseSealing phase

The below pic shows the first cut back with the wet and dry sand paper. This is a very fine grit sand paper and we’ve used it here because we just want to knock the top of the sealer – not remove the sealer. This will ensure the surface has enough purchase for the second application to adhere too.


and behold my new clothing trap is set!!!!


It’s come along way, but I think the journey was definitely worth every second to end up with this beauty!!! in total the budget ended up being approximately $200 in addition to the $40 spent on purchasing the armoire.

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  1. Wow, amazing transformation and just the encouragement I need for the 2 x armoires we bought in addition to our 1940s Bach. Unfortunately, they were both riddled with borer especially along the sideboards and inquiries with local retro furniture shops confirms the borer is a huge deal breaker. Hence my search for diy restoration tips. Thank you so much for sharing your brilliantly executed project! My husband might take some convincing, but I think with some careful planning we might be able to do something wonderful with ours! Do you recommend Oak wood for all replacement pieces to inhibit borer reproduction? Probably only looking seriously at replacing 1 x sideboard off both armoires, so wonder if I could get my timber boards ripped at Bunnings? (No workshop in our tiny Bach home!) Any feedback would be fantastic! Thank you so much for sharing! Ps. Are you still enjoying your armoire?


    1. We love our armoires and it is a joy to use them everyday! We are so glad we chose to restore them rather than buying a new (lesser quality) piece.

      We are in NZ and we’ve got introduced species of wood eating nasties as well as some native borers. I’ve linked a good article at the bottom of this reply – it details the conditions and types of wood they thrive in and other wood they tend to not bother with. But, if they’re in your furniture or house and they are hungry I think they’ll try and eat anything. There’s accounts of them eating chipboard, it seems there is even a beetle living here that could theoretically bore through sheet steel…… We’ve not encountered it and hope it stays that way *touch wood*.

      Best method we can recommend as our ‘go to’ borer be gone method is to inject a blast of insecticide in every single hole you find every hardware store will stock a borer injection spray of some sort, or you could use kerosene… Make sure those nasties are very dead before you introduce any new panels. You’ll want to do the injection treatment after you sand back the panels your hoping to keep, because we found more holes appeared after a sand back and the total extent of the damage is not really visible until you’ve given it a good knock back.

      We just use Oak because we like it and it is period with the pieces we restore. We’ve never heard of it inhibiting borer, and it’s certainly not been our experience as most of the pieces we’ve brought are oak and have had borer damage. 😦

      Good luck, it’s very easy to carry out the treatment and so rewarding when you get a beautiful piece of furniture out of the small amount of effort!

      Here is that link


  2. What a treat to see a wonderful piece of old furniture brought back from the dead and given a new life! Great job!


  3. Wonderful (and care-full!) craftsmanship…both of you! I’m not minding that bit of a bow in the door so much, because the piece came out so gloriously! Lots, of hard work, so KUDOS, Pepper and Hubby!!!


  4. Wow! I hope you guys are proud of yourselves!!! That is a beautiful piece of furniture now – lots of hard work and I am so happy you shared it all here. Amazing and inspiring.


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