A pair of George II Walnut Girandoles – Part Two

I sawed some 5/64″ (2mm) thick walnut veneer and glued it, book-matched, onto some pine. The patterns were then drawn onto the veneered boards and the frets cut out.

The frets awaiting their frames.

The edges of the frets were usually back-bevelled to reduce their visibility when viewed front-on or slightly off-centre. The effect makes the frames appear lighter.

Side view, showing the back-bevelled edges.

The cross-banded frame stock has all been glued up and awaits moulding… soon.

About Jack Plane

Formerly from the UK, Jack is a retired antiques dealer and self-taught woodworker, now living in Australia.
This entry was posted in Mirrors & Girandoles and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to A pair of George II Walnut Girandoles – Part Two

  1. Gill Edwards says:

    Aren’t you worried that applying veneer to only one side of the pine will create a tension which will lead to warping later on?


    • Jack Plane says:

      If you were to hold a ruler on its edge across the fret of any eighteenth century mirror, you would witness some degree of concave or convex cupping even though they may appear perfectly flat. I would expect and welcome the same effect on these girandoles.


  2. So is was thinking about how you came across your walnut — am I correct in assuming that it is not native to Australia? Also, I’m familiar with the “age of oak” and the “age of walnut” in English furniture. Were 18th century builders still sourcing English/European walnut, or was it coming from the colonies by then?

    I’m really lucky as I live in the heart of walnut country (Southeastern Pennsylvania) and five minutes from a major hardwood source.


    • Jack Plane says:

      You are correct in your assumption; I imported this particular lot of walnut from England, though I also have some that was grown here in Australia. Australia has a fairly long history of nut production, including walnuts. Some stock came from Europe and some from California, so there are some goodly trees around.

      Virginia walnut was imported into England from the late seventeenth-century, but in terms of figured timber for veneers, it played second fiddle to European walnut from Belgium, Italy and Spain (France were being somewhat obstreperous with selling us their walnut by the early eighteenth-century).


  3. Greg Forster says:

    What are the over-all dimensions?
    Would it be “historically-correct” to glue the vertical pine side pieces to the larger square pine piece, like forming a “U” ( to not waste as much material) or start with a large rectangle piece of pine and cut away the outside scrolls and the inside rectangle area for the mirror?

    Thankyou for your always most interesting and en-lighting posts.



    • Jack Plane says:

      The overall dimensions of the girandoles are 28-1/2″ high by 10-3/4″ wide.

      The construction you describe is in fact how fretted girandoles and mirrors are made. The narrow vertical pine wings are glued onto the main horizontal pine crest prior to being veneered.

      If you examine period mirror frames, you can often detect splits in the veneer directly over the joints in the groundwork. I will include images of the backs in a later post.


  4. Ray Gardiner says:

    I like the way you have used the contrast between the sapwood and heartwood to enhance the overall shape. Are you planning to darken the sapwood when you do the finishing?


    • Jack Plane says:

      Yes, the colour of the sapwood will be almost indistinguishable from the heartwood when I’ve finished. It’s not that I don’t admire the contrast, it’s just what happens naturally over time and therefore I will replicate the ageing effect.


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