The Good Oil

A friend dropped in to see me this week with a horrific story of near disaster. She had been carrying out some maintenance around the home and had given her wooden veranda its annual oiling.

One morning, before the breeze got up, Helen went out and brushed a generous coat of decking oil onto the exposed boards of her stoep and followed up by wiping the surplus off with rags per the instructions on the tin. However, what she omitted to read were the safety instructions pertaining to the safe disposal of oily rags. She discarded the rags near the kitchen door.

Helen then made a sandwich for her lunch and took it to a room at the other end of the house. The breeze was blowing steadily by this stage and she began hearing odd noises from outside. Thinking the long-handled oil applicator had simply blown over, Helen continued with her lunch. Further unusual noises ensued so Helen decided to investigate and as she walked down the corridor towards the kitchen, there were several loud bangs.

Helen walked into the kitchen to see broken glass all over the floor, the fly wires melted and the curtains on fire! Then another glass door shattered.

The rags Helen had discarded in a pile on the stoep were saturated with linseed (or some other polymerising oil) and no doubt, fanned by the rising breeze, dried rapidly; causing an exothermic reaction to the point they ignited.

The burning rags further ignited the stoep, a coir doormat and several pairs of shoes and wellington boots, all of which produced sufficient heat to shatter the safety glass doors.

I’m quite sure everyone reading this is long-aware of the dangers of casting aside rags containing drying oils, however, let this serve as a reminder.

Oily rags should be disposed of safely, preferably by submersion in water, or by careful incineration.

Jack Plane

Posted in Distractions | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Picture This CXXXIX

I previously mentioned Hepplewhite’s (circa 1787) design for full extension wooden drawer slides. Tomorrow, November the 13th, Christies are auctioning a circa 1765 dressing commode with full extension wooden drawer slides in their London rooms. The commode, lot 217, is attributed to the London cabinetmaker William Gomm and carries a pre-sale estimate of GBP 50,000 – GBP 80,000 (AUD 93,844 – AUD 150,150; USD 64,000 – USD 102,400).

George III mahogany serpentine dressing commode, circa 1765. (Christie’s)


Jack Plane

Posted in Antiques, Auction Alerts | Tagged , | 8 Comments

Picture This CXXXVIII Redux

The Bristol blue-dash charger, lot 153 featured in Picture This CXXXVIII realised £2,200 (AUD $4.043, USD $2,745)) against a pre-auction estimate of £800 – £1200 (AUD $1,475 -$2,205, USD $998 – $1,497).

Lot 153. (Woolley and Wallis)

Jack Plane

Posted in Auction Alerts, ceramics | Tagged | Leave a comment

Now we are Ten

Ten years ago today – and feeling somewhat despondent – I began writing this blog. It has since elevated my spirits and the combination of making furniture and writing about it continues as one of my favourite pastimes.

Today I will be celebrating with a flagon of home brewed cider and a glass or two of Plane’s Milk of Amnesia.

Tomorrow is another day.


Jack Plane

Posted in Distractions | Tagged | 16 Comments

Picture This CXXXVIII

I first mentioned a Bristol blue-dash delft charger that I own in this post and in the comments following this post. As it happens, Woolley and Wallis are conducting The Warner Collection of British Delftware auction at their rooms in Salisbury on Tuesday the 17th September 2019.

Amongst the superlative lots on offer is lot 153 (figure 1), a Bristol blue-dash charger depicting ‘The Temptation’, which bears some similarities to the one in my possession (figure 2).

Fig. 1. Lot 153 (estimate: £800 – £1,200), a Bristol blue-dash charger, circa 170-40. (Woolley and Wallis)

Fig. 2. A Bristol or Southwark blue-dash charger, circa 1730.

Another similar charger, lot 154, is also up for sale.

Jack Plane

Posted in Antiques, Auction Alerts, ceramics | Tagged | 1 Comment

Picture This CXXXVI

I previously mentioned the differences between plain cut-in and worked-up shelf supports for bookcases etc.

The image below is a good example of simple cut-in supports.

Oak bookcase, circa 1760.

Jack Plane

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Picture This CXXXVI

Further to the walnut secretaire chest-on-chest in Picture This CXXX, this secretaire chest-on-chest recently caught my eye.

Fig. 1. George II oak secretaire chest-on-chest, circa 1750.

I previously mentioned early secretaire drawer fronts were commonly secured with simple iron hooks and eyes – as in this case. The shaped secretaire drawer sides are also more typical (figure 2).

Fig. 2. Secretaire drawer interior.

The iron quadrant stays in this example are period-correct too; however, they don’t normally retract centrally within the drawer sides.

Note the moulded drawer edges (figure 3) which ostensibly look like the lipped edges that were popular between 1730 and 1760 (figure 4).

Fig. 3. Moulded drawer edges.

Fig. 4. Moulded and lipped drawer edges, circa 1760.

Jack Plane

Posted in Antiques, Picture This | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

Picture This CXXXV

Here’s another one for the sleuths: This is described as a “quality solid mahogany dressing table, circa 1770”.

Can I have your opinions please?

Jack Plane

Posted in Antiques, Picture This | Tagged | 10 Comments

Picture This CXXXIV

This table is described by its vendor as a “late 18th century Queen Anne walnut lowboy”.

Would the sleuths please set the record straight?


Jack Plane

Posted in Antiques, Picture This | Tagged | 20 Comments

Picture This CXXXIII

I previously mentioned chair-back settees and how they can, with a modicum of forethought, be effectively created from extant side chairs. The settee in figure 1 is one such conversion.

Fig. 1. Utterly convincing transformation of three circa 1760 oak side chairs.

The chairs’ front legs appear to have been simply screwed together; however the three individual crest rails have been replaced by one solid rail (figure 2).

Fig. 2. New continuous crest rail.

The three separate rear seat rails have been skilfully linked together with dovetailed spacers (figure 3).

Fig. 3. Ingenious five-piece rear seat rail.

The chairs are probably Irish and it heartens me to think an Irishman also carried out this wonderful metamorphosis.

Jack Plane

Posted in Antiques | Tagged , , | 12 Comments