Ammonia fuming has got to be the most satisfying method of “coloring” wood on the planet. Introduce your project parts to ammonia fumes in an air-tight environment and let Mother Nature do her thing. It cannot be easier! And yes, it even worked on the poplar lid and bottom! Granted, I had to slather on a healthy amount of black tea solution to jazz up the tannins, but wow!

I let the box sit for a day before slathering on some oil and turpentine. Once the oil had cured, I finished things off with a healthy coat of wax. When I wax a carving, I keep a couple of brushes nearby to reach all the nooks and crannies. And, of course, do things by the numbers.

  1. Apply wax using a pad of #0000 steel wool. With a swirling motion, work it into all the nooks and crannies. Finish with long strokes working with the grain.
  2. Allow drying to a haze, about 20-minutes.
  3. With a dry toothbrush, buff out the carved areas.
  4. Keep the toothbrush clean and dry.
  5. Vigorously buff with a clean, dry shoe brush.
  6. Continue buffing with a clean, dry rag.
  7. Enjoy the satin sheen!

With the freshly waxed mahogany and poplar box resting quietly in my Wareroom, I plunged headfirst into another project. I had recently found images of an Elizabethan six-plank chest and a 17th-century Gloucestershire board chest and thought that a combination of the two would make for a nice six-board chest in cherry.

One of the cherry boards from my last lumber run measured a full 14-inches wide. It was perfect for the sides.

Having stared at the carving on the Gloucestershire chest long enough, I laid out the two rows of lunettes and started carving the thirty-nine-inch-wide cherry front.

Realizing that I was taking great liberties with the Gloucestershire carving, I decided to go back and add a bit of decoration to the sides. Because hey, that’s the joy of mannerist carving. Right?

With the carving done, the rest of the chest was pretty straightforward. Cut rebates on the ends of the front and back boards and dado the sides to receive the floor. Oh yeah, and add a couple of tills to the inside.

After a few dry fits to check for squareness, making minor tweaks here and there, I nailed things together and attached the lid with snipe hinges.

I will let this chest sit for a day or two before oiling it, but in the meantime, I’ll imagine Elizabeth and that 17th-century Gloucestershire carver smiling down upon me thinking, ‘Not bad!’

9 thoughts on “Well…

  1. Dave Polaschek

    Looking good, Ron! I especially like the little details in the sides. After all, the photos don’t show the sides, so who’s to say you’re not being accurate? 😉

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Ron Aylor Post author

        Just use good old household ammonia (unscented). It is only a 3% solution. Keep your container airtight and you should be safe. Open it outside after a day or two.


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