A George III Mahogany Kneehole Desk – Part Seven

After cleaning down the desk, I built up a faded mid brown mahogany colour on it and polished it with oil and spirit varnish.

The handles were fitted to the drawers and, having finally made up my mind on the matter, I also attached lifting handles to the ends of the carcase.

Lifting handle screwed to carcase.

When in business, I used to lay a fair number of leathers, not just for myself, but for other dealers too; however, I disposed of most of my embossing wheels when I closed my shop. I would have preferred to lay a slightly oversize loose hide on the desk top, emboss it and then trim it to size, but in the absence of one particular pattern of embossing wheel, I carefully measured up the desk top and ordered a pre-tooled hide which I checked to ensure a perfect fit.

Embossed hide.

After trimming and laying the hide, I attacked its glazed finish to reduce the harshness and impart a semblance of natural wear in the appropriate areas. The whole desk was then waxed – leather and all.

The finished kneehole desk – front…

… and back.

The fitted hide.

The bracket feet.

Jack Plane

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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9 Responses to A George III Mahogany Kneehole Desk – Part Seven

  1. Jack Plane says:

    R. DeGroot, my apologies for not answering your email regarding leathers: For some reason your ISP has black-listed my ISP and my response to you was bounced back.

    If you would like to email me again using a different account/ISP, I’ll happily discuss your query. Alternatively, if you would prefer to raise the topic on the SAPFM forum, I’ll gladly respond there.



  2. Joe M. says:

    Hello Jack Plane!
    First let me say beautiful job!
    How did you “lay down” the leather? what glue/adhesive? Is there any allotment or provision for shrinkage or movement of the leather?
    I do enjoy your posts. Thank you


    • Jack Plane says:

      Thank you Joe.

      I have already received several emails in the same vein as your enquiry, so I will write a separate post next week on the subject of laying leathers.



  3. Ron Jones says:


    The kneehole desk looks marvelous. I hope the dogs will enjoy their new shelter. The simulated wear and finish on the mahogany is quite beautiful

    Thanks for sharing your craftsmanship.




  4. D.B. Laney says:

    First class execution. Would you consider a post or two about distressing? It’s a subject that doesn’t get enough attention.
    Dennis Laney


  5. John McPhail says:

    Are you able to offer any details about your spirit varnish?

    I find Google references to spirit varnish in a luthierie context and a number of recipes involving gums and resins dissolved in alcohol and then reduced, subsequent additives, etc. It seems mysterious!



    • Jack Plane says:

      John, There’s really not much to spirit varnishes; I levigate the chosen resin (sandarac, rosin, benzoin, shellac – or a combination) in a coffee grinder and then cover it with meths. Once dissolved, I further reduce it to suit the job at hand and the weather.



  6. Pingback: What Nomenclature is this! | Pegs and 'Tails

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