Picture This CXXXI

Stand down sleuths; there is absolutely nothing wrong with the top of this William and Mary walnut chest-on-stand! I merely offer it as an untouched thing of beauty (click to enlarge).

Crossgrain-moulded, veneered and banded chest, circa 1695. (Mackinnon Fine Furniture)

The top is noteworthy however and I would welcome your observations.

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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21 Responses to Picture This CXXXI

  1. Joe M says:

    unusual use/layout of the feather banding

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  2. Joe M says:

    I don’t get to see many with that layout…at least here in the states. I do like the way the oval intersects the outer feather banding….nice. The patches in the oval field..would they be there originally or a later repair?

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    • Jack Plane says:

      The patches are one aspect of this top that I hoped someone would mention. They were undoubtedly included at the time the veneer was laid.

      See more about patches here.

      JP

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      • Joe M says:

        Were “veneer punches of varying shapes and sizes” availible in the 17th and 18th century?…I would guess it would have been something dreamed up much later.

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        • Jack Plane says:

          Veneer punches only appeared with the advent of ultra thin peeled veneer in the nineteenth-century. They would have been ineffectual in the thick veneer used in this era.

          JP

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  3. Joe M says:

    Thanks, Jack!

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  4. Three things jumped out at me.
    1 The tops construction which down to oxidation and shrinkage shows the cleated end boards pushing the moulding forward. Just love that.
    2 The insets of the veneers by the veneerest which now stands out but original when made would have all blended.
    3 My only down side to this top is the large water mark which if I was Charlie Mackinnon I would not remove it but brake it down so its not so eye catching.
    Yes it’s a stunning Walnut top for a real collector to die for.

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    • Jack Plane says:

      Shrinkage is the other area I hoped would raise a remark.

      However, I must correct your description. The cleats have not pushed the moulding out; the shrinkage across the main board has pulled the moulding in.

      I wouldn’t touch it in any way – it’s ‘perfect’. As you say, it’s a collector’s piece.

      JP

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      • Joe M says:

        If you “double click” the image, to open in a new browser window. You can move the image around to use the edge of the browser window to act as a straight edge to see or measure the amount of shrinkage. I would guess the carcass sides held the ends of the top in place while the rest/middle of the top was able to move or shrink.

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  5. Joe M says:

    I correct myself, I searched “Mackinnon Fine Furniture” and I see it would not be sides of a carcass but indeed cleats in the top of the chest…….I just hope in a couple of hundred years. People will be admiring and commenting on the pieces we’ve made….maybe on some type of 3-d, hologram internet?

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  6. pete says:

    interesting the maker used an oval – isn’t that quite uncommon for William & Mary?

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  7. jheimbecher says:

    Is there a moulding missing at the top of the image, presumably the back of the piece, or were the side mouldings run long and mitered originally?

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    • Jack Plane says:

      I think ‘the missing rear moulding’ is a trick of light. I believe the photographer positioned the light to best capture the surface of the veneer, but did so in such a way that the light overshot the rear moulding. I am certain the moulding is there.

      JP

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      • At the top left corner of the photo (so proper right rear corner I guess) if I zoom in I think I see something protruding from the miter of the side moulding, as if it used to connect to a rear piece now missing. That too could be a trick of light, and I don’t know how they did mitered moulding in 1695. Did they, in fact, peg the corners?

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  8. Adam Palmer says:

    How would they have made the banding around the oval? Is it divided into small sections that I just can’t see? Or bent?

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    • Jack Plane says:

      The curved channel is first cut in the veneer and flooded (a section at a time) with hot glue. The banding is then introduced to the channel.

      The upper surface of the banding and the immediate surrounding veneer are also flooded with hot glue (as a lubricant). The banding is then gently fed along the curved channel and hammered into place. For banding, I use the cross pein of a cross pein hammer.

      The banding, with the assistance of the hot slippery glue, easily adjusts and adapts to its new shape.

      If I were to criticize the veneer work, it would be the execution of the junction of the oval banding and the straight banding. Normally where the two coincide, their centerlines also coincide.

      Also note the direction of flow of the feather banding. Compare with this example.

      JP

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  9. Jack Plane says:

    The third aspect of this top that is worth a mention is the almost universal wear (there is slightly more along the front edge).

    This extent of wear is only seen on free-standing furniture; chests that normally reside against walls usually display little or no wear towards their rear edges.

    JP

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