Walnut COD – In time for Christmas?
This whole project started as an experiment in cutting ogee bracket feet on the band saw using a support block (2013) as opposed to the usual method of stock removal done by means of “kerfing” and planing.
I assembled a base then proceeded to trip over it every time I turned around for the next year. My wife suggested that we needed another book case (the result of our mutual bibliophilia). I decided to build something with existing stock and to do the work using only hand tools. It quickly became obvious that the case was much too deep for use as book case.
After some pondering, I realized that the carcase could be modified to fit the dimensional envelope commonly associated with a small chest of drawers. (Bear in mind there are no plans being used here, just what’s going on in my head.)
The case was cut down to an appropriate height. Top rails were dovetailed in place. Sliding dovetails were “let in” to carry the drawer rails.
Mortise and tenon joints are used for the drawer bearers. These are left “loose” to accommodate movement.
Drawer fronts were rabbeted to accept both cross banding (quarter sawn white oak) and cock beading. Then half blind dovetails were let in. Through dovetails are used on the rear of the drawer assembly.
Drawer bottoms were planed to thickness. Only the “show side” is planed smooth. The bottom surface was left with the telltale marks created by a highly crowned fore plane. Rebates were cut to fit the slots and the bottom was beveled. This is “good practice” as it reduces the “plane of weakness” at the edges.
The next step was to fit the brasses.
The cherry cock beading was treated with an iron acetate solution made with 15% vinegar (available at traditional butcher shops where it used for marinating; the label very clearly states that this product is not to be consumed undiluted). Normally, if I was attempting to ebonize cherry I would pre-treat the wood with a tannic acid solution. This method turns cherry “dead” black. But this time I was looking for a very dark brown so I used only the iron acetate solution. After the precipitate was buffed away, the surface was a mottled, deep brown that allowed the “flecking” common to cherry to show through. When oiled, the beading has an almost “leather like” look. A happy accident.
The drawer fronts were “washed” with shellac to prevent any “bleeding”. The cock beading was then fitted and glued in place using liquid hide glue (modern version). Painters masking tape provides sufficient clamping pressure. The tape was removed after forty-five minutes to prevent residue that would hinder final finish application
Back boards (ceilings) were planed, fitted, painted with a wash of barn red milk paint (real lime and casein version) then attached with cut nails. (As the ceilings are not “show wood” the fore planed surface was sufficient.)
The base and case had previously been dyed with a mixture of household ammonia and walnut husks. This covered a small amount of sapwood that was present and “evened” out the color differential between the base and case. (The variety of color in walnut, even in boards cut from the same tree, can be startling.)
The entire unit was then given three coats of Minwax Antique Oil (in reality a synthetic wiping varnish), as it dries more quickly than boiled linseed oil, especially as seasonal humidity increases. Now, all I’ve got to do is nail up the base molding, make and attach the top. I might actually get it done by Christmas!
I’m hoping my friend, Mr. Plane, will weigh in on where the project might fall on the “period style” scale. I’m guessing “sorta-kinda” Georgian.