A George II Walnut Serpentine Chest – Part Seven

The external surfaces of the chest were washed down with hot soapy water to remove any wayward glue, grime and fingerprints. The chest was then stained and the first lick of spirit varnish applied to seal it (fig. 1). The colour and polish were gradually built up over several days.

Fig. 1. Initial colour.

I next applied a red lead-based wash to the chest’s underside (fig. 2).

Fig. 2. Lateritious wash protects pine surfaces.

The handles’ pommels didn’t protrude quite far enough through the 7/8″ thick drawer fronts, so I recessed the backs of the pommel holes and cut slots in the nuts (fig. 3) – a not uncommon practice.

Fig. 3. Slotted pommel nuts are tightened with a forked screwdriver.

I continued polishing the chest, being particularly careful to prevent any polish build-up in the blind frets (fig. 4).

Fig. 4. Shiny frets with dull edges.

I cut a piece of pure wool baize to size and stuck it into the shallow recess in the slide with traditional flour paste (fig. 5).

Fig. 5. Baize-lined slide.

A pair of pine stops was screwed onto the top rear of the slide, which come to a halt against the back of the top packer at the front of the chest, thus preventing the slide from being entirely withdrawn (fig. 6).

Fig. 6. Slide-mounted stop and slide cutout.

A section at each side of the slide was cut out (fig. 6) to accommodate the carcase-mounted stops which prevent the slide being pushed too far into the chest (fig. 7).

Fig. 7. Slide stops screwed to dustboard support.

With the stops all screwed in place, the panelled back could finally be attached (figs. 8 & 9).

Fig. 8. Washed pine back.

Fig. 9. Shaped rear pine brackets.

When the polish had had sufficient drying time, I mounted the brasses to the slide and drawers and waxed the whole thing (figs. 10 – 16).

Fig. 10.

Fig. 11.

Fig. 12.

Fig. 13.

Fig. 14.

Fig. 15.

Fig. 16. The completed chest of drawers.

The hours involved in the work in this post come to 30-1/4.
The total hours involved amount to 280-3/4.

Jack Plane


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 Case Furniture and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

19 Responses to A George II Walnut Serpentine Chest – Part Seven

  1. D.B. Laney says:

    In a word, superb!


  2. Incredible work Jack. 280hrs well spent.


  3. Jim Pallas says:

    Excellent Jack. I am always impressed with your work.


  4. Katya says:

    Jack, that is a stunning achievement. Curious why you decided to leave the fret edges unpolished.


  5. Joe M says:

    An inspirational piece! Well done! Again!
    Where were the brasses obtained? Size?


  6. In figs. 13 & 14 there appears to be a goodly amount of small bruises – freckle-like – embedded into the outermost curve of the base-moulding on the bow-front, and captured by the finishing coats you have applied. Is the effect a fortuitous happenstance of the fabrication process, or is it an intentional ingredient for subtle patination of the timber-work?

    Cheers, Michael A.


  7. paul6000000 says:

    I’m glad you finally located your baize.

    I love this chest. Is there one project that stands out as your favourite?


    • Jack Plane says:

      The baize turned up within days of my previous need of it. Naturally.

      I like cutting dovetails and laying veneer. I really like making cross-grained mouldings and feather banding. I particularly enjoyed making the frets and serpentine feet – probably because I don’t regularly do much of either.



  8. Mark Cass says:

    Top class work sir, lovely colour too. I stand in awe.


  9. Tom Bristowe says:

    Wonderful; really wonderful ! Cock beading is a most handsome thing. I particularly like your workman-like treatment of the back panel , too.


  10. Wow beautiful! 7 weeks, great dedication. Quick. Any drawings/plans to pass on?


  11. Jack,

    Stunning piece! Great workmanship. Yet you knew that. Thank you for sharing.


  12. Mark Maleski says:

    This is beautiful, Jack. Also very inspiring. The back is so nicely done, is this intended to be placed away from a wall then?


    • Jack Plane says:

      Thank you.

      The chest is designed to stand against a wall. The panelled construction of the backboards is fairly typical of high quality eighteenth-century cabinetry.



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