HB Tansu Progress-6

The HB Tansu carcass is complete and finished.  Today I fitted and installed the drawer guides.  A simple matter of cutting and planing to fit then just glue them into place.  I then cut off the protruding tenon stubs left from yesterdays glue-up.  A little cleanup with a plane followed by, dare I say it, sandpaper.  I was then ready to move on to finishing.

I masked off the interior bits that I didn’t want finish on.  From there I applied the Briwax following the same procedure that I outlined in my previous post.  Did the finish turn out the way that I had planned?  Nope.  But I do like how it looks.  Sort of has a lived-in feeling to it.  Once the drawers, doors and black hardware are installed, I think it will look pretty good.

This finishing process is a first with me.  If its not too much trouble, I would like to hear your thoughts on how this process looks.  Don’t hold back, let me have it. 🙂

Greg Merritt

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16 Responses to HB Tansu Progress-6

  1. davidos says:

    its looking fantastic Greg, really nice . just read through your previous post quickly is it just two types of waxes no sealer

    • gman3555 says:

      Thank you David. Yep, two tinted waxes only, no sealer. If I go this rout again I’ll probably start with some sort of oil base coat. I think that would have made the color more uniform.


  2. Randy Allen says:

    I like the overall color and look, guess you could say it has patina. My only concern would be maintaining a uniform color on the panels. It appears that the top side panel in the photo is darker in the middle than at the edges near the frame.
    Overall I like it


    • gman3555 says:

      Thanks Randy. Uniform coverage is one of the things I don’t like about it too. I have no idea why that panel colored that way. No matter how much wax I put on it, it won’t get any darker on the edges.


  3. From the pic it looks good to my eye. Nice sheen without being too glossy and the color looks ok to me. I like differences in color caused by the grain in the wood.
    Did you use the same polissoir to apply both waxes?

    • gman3555 says:


      Thank you and thanks for the input. I only used the polissoir on the base coat. Once the wood is burnished the polissoir can not do much more. I was looking through images of antique tansu and ran across the following photo. I’m pretty close I think.


  4. joemcglynn says:

    I like the color Greg, although I can imagine the few uneven spots are frustrating. I can’t imagine why some areas take different amounts of color. Did any glue squeeze out get in those spots? I guess it could be some artifact with the manufacturing of the birch ply panels too.

    Any thoughts on what you would do differently with the finishing?

    I keep finding myself staring at pictures of antique tansu now, which doesn’t bode well for my wife’s Arts & Crafts bookcase…

    • gman3555 says:


      I wanted a variegated look, just not to this extent. I went over these panels with a no.80 cabinet scraper, with mixed results, and pre-finished them before installing them into the carcass. The plywood panel wood is peeled from the log which results in some interesting grain behavior. I think that the issue is mostly just the nature of the birch ply panel. In the future I may try to lay down a base of stain or dye. This might give me more chance at uniformity. I may try scraping that one panel down to bare wood and apply another round of wax but start with the dark brown first this time. Otherwise I’ll just live with it.

      Be careful of the siren song of the tansu. Once it draws you in it will occupy your every thought. 😉


  5. Emilio says:

    Great work, Greg!

  6. Dave G says:

    Hi Greg
    looking great , you have made a lot of progress in a short time . I am not sure if I preferred it before you applied the dark stain , I thought it had a look of a Japanese tea house, the birch panels looking like the paper windows.

    • gman3555 says:

      Hi David,

      Thanks. I’m on the fence about natural vs. stained as well. I like the way it turned out though. The next one I’ll be giving the clear shellac and wax treatment. I’ve been looking at so many antique tansu with rich brown tones that I had to give it a go. This process is labor intensive and unpredictable.


  7. BrianJ says:

    Greg it does have the 100 year old look too it somehow, if you are unsatisfied I can send you my address….. Lol
    So you say it it not what you had planned, in what way? Uniformity of colour? Or not the red/ brown colour you were shooting for?

    • gman3555 says:

      LOL…I think I’ll hang on to it. It may appreciate in value and almost be worth the material cost in several years.

      I had hoped for a little deeper/richer color. The test piece that I did absorbed the color pretty well. But the overall piece was a little hit and miss. So the downside to this method is lack of uniformity in color absorption. In the end, I was asking a lot from pine and birch. Neither of these woods take stain very well. Overall I like the way it looks though.


  8. BrianJ says:

    Hey could have been pine and poplar!!! Just a thought have you researched any of the blotch control applications like de- waxed shellac or some of the other remedies?

    • gman3555 says:


      My normal finishing routine, outside of milk paint, would be to apply 3-4 coats of clear shellac, buff with 0000 steel wool and the apply a clear paste wax. I wanted to use the polissoir to burnish the surfaces so I opted to skip the shellac. In hind sight, a thinned coat of shellac would probably have mitigated the unevenness of the color absorption. My next HB Tansu will get the clear shellac and wax treatment. Then I can evaluate my feelings as to how each method looks.


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