Restoration of a Walnut Chest-on-Stand

The stand of this circa 1695 William III walnut chest on stand suffered badly from woodworm attack and general decay. On first appearances, the prospect of resurecting the stand, at least,  looked quite hopeless, but much worse looking pieces than this have been dragged back from the brink!

Some of the cross-grain mouldings were missing as were three of the five legs. These were replaced using English walnut of the same general grain and colour.

The stand as it arrived.

The chest also looked a little sad.

As is common with pieces of furniture of this age, the handles have often been replaced; sometimes due to broken or incomplete sets and sometimes because of changes in fashion (the Victorians had a detestable habit of replacing perfectly good handles with hideous, bulbous wooden knobs). The brassware present on the chest when it came in was poor quality twentieth-century replacements and stylistically, wholly inappropriate for the period. The picture below shows the evidence of four previous replacement sets of handles. As the period-correct drop handles only cover a small area, the old handle scars needed to be erased.

Handle scars aplenty.

The stand’s apron was rebuilt using old pine and new sections of cross-grain walnut mouldings were made up.

View through the top of the rebuilt stand.

A new wavy stretcher had to be constructed from pine and veneered with walnut.

The front of the stand was veneered with hand cut walnut veneer and the absent legs were turned from solid walnut.

Half inch wide cross-grain walnut D-mouldings were made up and applied around the drawer openings. The drawers were reconstructed and any missing veneer and crossbanding replaced. The chest was fully restored including new drawer runners. The previous handle scars were erased and the whole piece was coloured and waxed. A full set of original handles and escutcheons weren’t available, so a set was cast from original inventory samples using the correct brass alloy of the period. The handles were then aged and flat iron staples were made to attach them with.

The finished chest-on-stand resplendent with new handles.


About Jack Plane

Formerly from the UK, Jack is a retired antiques dealer and self-taught woodworker, now living in Australia.
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3 Responses to Restoration of a Walnut Chest-on-Stand

  1. Pingback: Chest Invection | Pegs and 'Tails

  2. Kevin Stone says:

    Does the chest simply rest on the top of the base in the recess created by the moulding, or is it pegged in place to prevent tipping if too many drawers are opened at once? Any thoughts are appreciated. Great to see something saved, you are very skilled.


    • Jack Plane says:

      Yes, the chest simply rests on the stand. It’s no more likely to tip forward than a chest standing on bun or bracket feet.

      Actually, if any chests were inclined to tip forward, it would be those on bun feet. But they don’t.



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