A George II Virginia Walnut Chest of Drawers – Part Six

Stupidly, I decided to polish this chest in a manner commonly employed in the mid-eighteenth-century, using linseed oil (and other natural substances widely available at the time). I say “stupidly” because at this time of the year – with high humidity and record-breaking low temperatures – only a complete buffoon would attempt such a schedule. Yours truly takes one step forward.

Spirit varnishes dry by evaporation which occurs with little drama in virtually any weather, however, linseed oil doesn’t actually dry, rather it ‘sets’ through chemical reaction which is largely dependent on appropriate temperature and humidity levels – neither of which were remotely ideal when I embarked on this process.

All the same, armed with a brush and a hot air gun (admittedly, an infrequently used tool in the mid-eighteenth-century), I applied the first coat of doctored oil to the chest.

3 o’clock, fading light, 8°C (46°F), half coated in oil and with dew already descending.

Building the finish is a glacial process under these circumstances, but it is nonetheless improving by the day. Part Seven may be some days off though.

Jack Plane

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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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One Response to A George II Virginia Walnut Chest of Drawers – Part Six

  1. Tico Vogt says:

    There was an Historic Paint company in NY State that existed for several years in the early nineties. Their formulas were true reproductions of early recipes. Sure enough, Linseed Oil was the base. When I painted the interior trim of an addition I built in August, during peek humidity, the paint simply would not dry. Literally weeks between coats. A frustrating process but, in the end, worth it. The colors look so vastly different during the day, depending on the light.

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