Welcome to my blog which follows my furniture restoration business. Please feel free to comment at the bottom of the post, and if you would like a response please leave your email address. you can also contact me directly at info@johnmarkpower.com. And by all means, if you like something please feel free to share it.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Mahogany Chest on Chest (ca.1790)

The Completed Chest
The chest on chest or double chest is, as the name states, a chest stacked on a second chest. Today the form is seen in one piece construction but originally it would have been composed of two separate chests. The bottom chest is slightly larger in most forms and has molding attached to the top which hides the joint where the top is stacked. The upper chest is capped with a molded pediment that gives a bit of lift and completion to the form. 

The chest I recently worked on dates to the fourth quarter of the 18th century. Three details point towards this time period. The first is the use of a straight bracket foot on the bottom, which appears in case pieces during that period. The second indication is the orientation of the drawer bottoms from left to right, instead of front to back. This orientation was a development of the second half of the 18th century and the change was made so that the wood could expand and contract easier and less cracking would occur due to humidity changes. The third indication of age is the use of brass cased locks in the drawers. All of the locks are present in this piece and appear to be original. The use of brass cases over iron cases originated during this period. Beyond the dating of the chest I can tell by the construction methods and the woods used that this chest on chest was produced in England.

The piece as it came to me was in need of a new finish. The existing finish was modern and had begun to deteriorate. There were also several routine repairs one would expect to see in an 18th century piece of furniture. Below are a few photos of the piece during the repair process followed by two photos of the completed chest on chest.

These first few photos show the chest on chest as it was when it came into the shop.

This photo of the side of the top shows the beautiful grain of the veneered sides of the chest and also a bit of missing astragal molding that transitions the pediment to the case side.
These next two photos show the chest with the finish removed.

The boards that cover the joinery where the drawer dividers attach to the case sides were loose. This is due to shrinkage of the case sides. The clamps on the left and right sides of the case are holding these covers in place while the glue dries, as seen in the two photos below.

One side of the upper chest had a significant crack running from top to bottom. This again was due to wood movement. A long tapered wedge was glued in the crack, as seen in the photo below. The wedge was left proud while the glue dried, and then pared flush to the side once the glue had set.
The opposite side of the chest had loose veneer where the side had warped. The deep clamps in the photos below are gluing this down. The replaced astragal molding is also being glued in place on the top of the case.

After the glue had set, the astragal molding was fine tuned and sanded. The patch is seen below just above the blue tape.

Many of the drawers were missing the cockbeading that frames the drawer faces. This was all replaced and any loose beading was glued in place. a replaced section is seen in the photo below.
The top of the upper chest had a crack in it which was repaired the same as the crack in the side mentioned above. The photos below show the wedge as it was refined. This first photo shows the wedge inserted and gluing in place.
Once the glue had dried, the wedge was pared flush to the top using a combination of a smoothing plane and a hand chisel.

the wedge was further leveled with scraping and sanding. It was later stained to match the color of the top.

This photo shows the top half of the chest after the repairs were made and the entire piece was sanded. The chest on chest was selectively stained to match the natural color of the wood on the drawer fronts.
One feature that this particular chest had was what is referred  to as a brushing slide. This is a board that sits directly above the long drawers in the bottom half of the case. It has two brass pulls that allow the user to pull the board out. The board would have originally been covered with a baize.

Contrary to what most people would assume, This panel was not meant to be used as writing surface, but the purpose was to have a surface to lay out clothes for brushing off, hence the name brushing slide.

The slide in this piece had warped and the felt that was on the piece was frayed and loose in many places. The existing felt can be seen in the photo below.
Once all of the felt and glue was removed, the surface was leveled with a jack plane, as seen in the photos below.

After the new finish was applied, it was masked and glue was applied to the wood sub surface, as seen below.
The new baize was then laid out and smoothed.
The next step was to define the edges of the slide and trim the excess baize from the slide.
The restored slide with new baize applied.
This last photo shows the brushing slide extended from the lower case.
These following photos show the restored chest on chest. The light was a little dark, so the color appears a little darker than it really is. The photo above shows the color a little better.

1 comment:

  1. Furniture is what turns your house into a home.We are running our Furnitures over 25 years and we are one of the leading furnitures dealers in chennai