Hello All - I am new to this particular forum and glad to have found it. First, as an introduction to me and my project, I am an antique radio collector and restorer. I am active on the Antique Radio forum, mainly collect wood tube radios, and I am very comfortable with veneer repair, refinishing techniques, etc. Forums are great for collaborating on problems, I use them and help others.
So here is my problem. I recently acquired a custom piece that was a 1935 Philco 45C butterfly radio installed in a Stickley Early American telephone table by a cabinet maker. When I got the piece, it had been stored in a barn for at least 18 years, had multiple finishes on it, covered in dirt dauber nests, and has weathering damage. I have spoken with the Stickley museum historian and confirmed the original finish is orange shellac and it was a mixed species table. Per a 1932 catalog - as a general rule, Cherry was used for tops, drawer fronts, case goods, end panels while Maple was used for turnings, divisions, stretchers, and posts.
My problem is an end panel. The table is now stripped and cleaned. I am not worried about some minor splits and dings which add character but I have one end panel with severe checking. The splits have curled with minor lifting at the cracks - there must be about 100 of them. I have tried a damp cloth, ironed the panel and reclamped using platens and cauls with no success. The panel is recessed and I am not going to disassemble the frame so I am leaning to cutting a piece of new veneer and inlaying it over the existing. Figured I could card the curls flat first, good coat of glue and the clamping would secure the base veneer and stabilize the panel. Any advice on this part of the restoration?
The 2nd issue is I am not convinced the end panel is cherry veneer. The color is much lighter than the solid cherry top but darker than the maple. A picture of an original table where, again, a strong cherry dark tone is not seen. I am not sure how to definitively identify the veneer but any advice would be welcomed. 3 pictures are attached, the good end panel stripped, the bad end panel, an original finish table.