George II Walnut Ladderback Chair – Part Four

The use of spirit and oil varnishes is documented well before the second quarter of the eighteenth-century whence this chair hails from. However, despite the protection and gloss that varnish affords furniture, chairs of this period often received nothing more than simple wax which, over time (and with periodic reapplications), develops into an attractive, thin, dry lustre.

Various mineral and vegetable waxes were readily available, relatively cheap and easily applied and maintained; moreover, no special equipment was necessary for their application. Unlike varnishes that necessitated expensive badger-, sable- or squirrel-hair brushes to apply them, this method of wax polishing could be carried out with a coarse rag and a soft cloth for final buffing.

I coloured and aged the chair to represent faded walnut furniture of the period and then gave it a couple of applications of wax polish (figures 1-4).

giiwglc_300414_01aFig. 1.

giiwglc_300414_02aFig. 2.

giiwglc_300414_03aFig. 3.

giiwglc_300414_04aFig. 4.

The seat squab was made up from oak off-cuts (as were many originals – I wasn’t being cheap) with walnut added to the corners. The walnut corners were similarly coloured and waxed (fig. 5).

giiwglc_300414_05aFig. 5.

I haven’t laid my hands on any rushes to complete the seat squab, so I’ll have it done by a professional bottomer whose services I used when I had the shop.

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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12 Responses to George II Walnut Ladderback Chair – Part Four

  1. dzj9 says:

    Turned out very nice, looking forward to seeing it complete.
    Is this the common or the black variety of walnut?
    Also, can you say something about the colouring you used.
    Thanks.

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    • Jack Plane says:

      The chair is made of Black Walnut. Much English furniture of the early eighteenth-century was made from walnut imported from the North American colonies.

      I purposely don’t keep recipes of the stains I use, but I began with some yellow water stain and adjusted it with red and blue.

      JP

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  2. Joe M says:

    The chair looks beautiful Jack, The wax finish looks great. I bet it “looks” even better when touched with your eyes closed.

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  3. Kevin L. Schroeder says:

    I do like the look of the faceting of the crest rail – a very nice detail.

    Thanks, Kevin

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  4. Jim Podesva says:

    The chair looks great! How is the new shop? I’m liking the backdrop too, but I bet you’ll miss the lemon tree.

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    • Jack Plane says:

      The new ‘shop is many, many times larger than my previous 10′ x 10’ edifice, but is draughty and the floor is uneven. The views are spectacular though.

      The new shed has been delivered and erection is due to commence next week. I will be planting several citrus trees around the shed when completed.

      JP

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  5. Jim Pallas says:

    Good looking chair. Will that be used with your George II bureau or will it be part of a set? Like all of your work would most likely be a pleasure to use. Then comes my usual query “What’s next?”
    Jim

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    • Jack Plane says:

      Thanks Jim. This is a single chair and will indeed reside at the ash bureau. I hope to make a set of Irish ladderback chairs in mahogany at some point.

      I’m not sure what furniture I’ll be making next. I am putting up a new shed/workshop in the following weeks which will then require lining, racks and shelves etc. Then I have some trees to fell and mill, and…

      But we urgently need a (not necessarily antique reproduction) table for the kitchen (the new kitchen isn’t large enough to accommodate the 8′ x 5′ Irish wake table) so I’ll have to knock up a quick and dirty substitute. I don’t anticipate being particularly enamoured with the new cratch, so it’s unlikely it will appear on this blog.

      I’m itching to make another case piece. We’ll see.

      JP

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  6. I really like the chair and I think it looks awesome.

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  7. paul6000000 says:

    This chair is one of my favourite things on your blog. Are the oak rails of the seat squab mortised into the corner blocks? I suppose the rush work will hold everything together but it doesn’t look like there’s much meat there for chopping very deeply.

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  8. Pingback: George II Walnut Ladderback Chair – Part Five | Pegs and 'Tails

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