A George III Mahogany Cabinet-on-Chest – Part Eight

Staining and polishing furniture in the rain can be frustrating to say the least! Natheless, after much corybantic activity with brush and cloth, the effulgent cabinet-on-chest is completed.

“Brass shines as fair to the ignorant as gold to the goldsmiths.” [1]

The original chest-on-cabinet sports rococo handles which would have been gilded, or at the very least, lacquered to look like they were gilded. On this occasion I lacquered the arsedine, not as before with an historically accurate blend of vegetable dyes, but, purely for comparison, with aniline dyes. The result is indistinguishable and a tad more convenient (fig. 1).

Fig. 1. Some of the aniline-lacquered arsedine.

After leaving the polish on the cabinet-on-chest to harden for a few days, I gave it a good burnishing prior to fitting the brasses and bedding them in (figs. 1 & 2).

Fig. 2. The brasses installed.

Fig. 3. The completed cabinet-on-chest.

Fig. 4. The chest.

Fig. 5. Bracket foot.

Fig. 6. One of the hollow corners.

Jack Plane

[1] Queen Elizabeth I.


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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11 Responses to A George III Mahogany Cabinet-on-Chest – Part Eight

  1. Robert R. Lindh says:

    Jack,……..installing the brasses and “bedding” them in………..What ? or how ? do you do the process of “bedding” them in…?????


    • Jack Plane says:

      Much ‘reproduction’ furniture simply has the brasses plonked on with no attempt made to make them look like they belong. I use a compound to bed the brasses in so they appear to grow out of the furniture as they do on antiques. I also highlight the brasses to simulate the natural wear they accumulate.



  2. Another fine piece JP. The patination is extraordinary.


  3. Adam says:

    By burnishing, do you mean that you’re working a piece of polished bone or similar material over the wood? I haven’t ever done this. What is the result?


    • Jack Plane says:

      I use an old stiff cloth that has previously been used for applying BLO and add some hard wax to it until it forms a firm leathery pad. The pad soon works up a deep glossy surface on the furniture without it becoming too shiny. It requires considerable elbow grease!



  4. Ronald Jones says:


    The cabinet-on-chest looks fantastic. Thanks for sharing your techniques and work. Was the piece up to the discerning standards of your dog?



  5. visitinghousesandgardens says:

    I would very happily have this in my home. I’m myself decorating the lounge this year, the room I’ve waited the longest to do (it’s nine years after I moved in) because I haven’t yet come to all my conclusions about colours (I’m swaying towards greys but once I’ve done testers I could well swing back to gold, chinnoisery (I’m thinking some original wallpaper panels on plain wals) or silks and panelling (I’m currently having window shutters installed but aren’t sure whether to go for panelling on the lower half of the wall). However, I did buy a very distressed breakfront astragal glazed cabinet on top of cupboards. I was going to commission something but couldn’t find someone to make exactly what I wanted (I spent many hours at Georgian Group HQ tracing designs) and having lived with my bargin cabinet for nearly two years and painted the interior regency white, I’m thinking of painting the exterior too and changing the fittings, to give it a contemporary look to its classic design. don’t worry, it’s not actually a £30K 18th C original. If only I had the skills you have to make my own pieces.


  6. confur says:

    A toymaker, needing a topper,
    Puts arsedine leaf where it’s proper.
    It’s gold, but it’s Dutch
    (Doesn’t cost half as much):
    It’s an alloy of zinc mixed with copper.

    Arsedine (AR-se-deen), also called Dutch gold and orsidue (which apparently was derived from the English word ore, or the French word for gold, or), was a copper-zinc alloy used to provide a gold-leaf surface to toys, signs, and lettering.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jack Plane says:

      Brilliant! I hadn’t come across that limerick before.

      I have heard of ‘Dutch metal’ (a general seventeenth-century term for brass, as imported by the Dutch East India Company from China) referred to as arsedine in the context of castings and metal leaf. In my experience, ‘Dutch gold’ normally refers to leaf only.



  7. confur says:

    An intresting site
    Where curious ones might
    Peruse strange word usage at leisure.
    Tho verbose and strange
    These verse in the main
    Convey much less pain and more pleasure

    Liked by 1 person

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