Skip to main content

Saving lives by replacing vintage Lane cedar chest locks

A recent letter from a reader prompts Furniture Detective Fred Taylor to share a potentially life-saving reminder involving replacement of locks on Lane cedar chests.
  • Author:
  • Updated:
lane cedar chest

This Lane cedar chest dates back to 1955. All  “Lane” or “Virginia Maid” chests made between 1912 and 1987 needs a replacement lock.

Q I teach a furniture refinishing class for “Life Long Learning & Leisure” here in the Columbus area. When I have my first class or speak to a group I start by asking “Do you own or do you know anyone who owns a Lane cedar chest?” If I get a positive reply I ask them to look on the bottom or the outside of the back for the model number and serial numbers. I also ask them to check the condition of the lock.

I then explain that this cedar chest can only be opened from the outside. A child playing inside cannot open the lid. Then I give them a toll free telephone number to get a lock replacement from the Lane Company at no cost [(888) 856-8758]. If you have never informed your readers of this service think about it – maybe save a life. I have no interest in Lane, and I am not employed by Lane.
– Jim C.

Rectangular Lane cedar chest lock

Rectangular style of lock on Lane cedar chests.

Lifesaving Tip for Owners of Lane Cedar Chests

A Thanks for the reminder about Lane cedar chests. In 1996, Lane Furniture Industries recalled 12 million of their cedar chests to retrofit them with safety locks. In March 2000, they instituted the free lock replacement program. The company states that every “Lane” or “Virginia Maid” chest made between 1912 and 1987 needs a replacement lock. Replacement locks for cedar chests locks can be ordered at, or contact a Lane Lock representative by email at or call toll free (800) 225-0265.

Circular Lane cedar chest lock

Illustration of a circular lock used on Lane cedar chests. (Both photos of lock courtesy of Lane Furniture Co.)

Editor’s Note: For the sake and safety of future owners of these vintage cedar chests, which were made to last for generations, Antique Trader strongly encourages chest owners to make sure the locks have been replaced on their cedar chests.

To Replace or Not Replace Foot of Piano Stool?

Q An old turn of the century piano stool with ball and claw feet turned up in a building I just bought. It’s in pretty good shape but it does need refinishing. It has the old ball and claw type foot that I assume was once brass but it is now just rusty and the glass balls are chipped here and there. Can I replace just the glass part and paint the rest of it or do I need to replace the whole thing?
– TLJ, via e-mail

A Complete replacement assemblies as well as replacement acrylic balls are available from a number of sources, including Van Dyke’s Restorers ( However, if you decide to just replace the ball bear in mind that most of those older ball and claw feet are made of cast iron and they don’t tolerate a lot of bending and prying to get the glass balls in and out. The likelihood of breaking a talon is very high. If you opt for total replacement you have to deal with fitting a new assembly over an old leg and matching up the diameters and screw holes.

Additional Approach

Claw foot of piano stool

“Claw1” Unless the glass in broken or missing or the metal is cracked, it is usually better to rehab the existing ball and claw foot rather than to replace parts. (Submitted photo)

A better approach might be to just deal with what you have. A few chips in 100-plus year old glass hardware are not fatal flaws and actually add some character to the piece. Remove the feet from the legs by releasing the one screw. Using a good brand of masking tape, tape off the glass balls as best you can around the talons. Use two layers of tape if you have time.

Then use a wire wheel attached to your drill to carefully remove the rust and burnish the metal. Clean it well with thinner, prime with a good primer and paint the feet either a brass color or a low sheen black. Untape the glass and clean it up carefully with lacquer thinner to remove any paint that may have crept under the tape. Now you have nice looking, original feet that will actually fit properly on your newly refinished stool.

Mirror is Key to Age of Maple Bedroom Set

Q I am looking for any information on a bedroom suite made by the Continental Furniture Company. I believe it to be maple. It has a Liberty Bell motif on each of the single bed headboards as well as bell finials on all four posts of each bed. There are two beds, one small nightstand, two chests and a mirror. I would guess it was made in the 1940s/50s. Any info you can offer regarding value/history would greatly appreciated.

– Paul R.

This exceptional book from the man who brings you the Furniture Detective column in Antique Trader each issue. Get your copy of this top-seller today at ($18.95+S&H).

This exceptional book from the man who brings you the Furniture Detective column in Antique Trader each issue. Get your copy of this top-seller today at ($18.95+S&H).

A Continental was a maker of primarily bedroom sets, and was based in High Point, Nort Carolina. The bulk of their work in the early 20th century was in Colonial Revival style. Your maple set is some of the “early American” themed furniture popular from the early 1950s to the mid 1960s. You can always remove the back from the mirror to find the date of manufacture. 20th century mirror glass used in furniture is always dated on the reverse of the glass itself.

Furniture so specifically themed usually does not enjoy broad market appeal and yours is not really old enough to have much collector’s value, except to someone specializing in that era and style. In good condition, your set would probably sell at a reasonable auction in the area of $500 to $650.