Over the last several days I have been adding the finishing touches to Hillbilly Tansu #3. Primarily, the actual finish. I used several coats of Tried & True Original which is a mixture of polymerised linseed oil and beeswax. I’ll add additional coats over the coarse of the next year or so. I know that sounds like a lot of work, but I like the way the finish looks as well as the non-toxic nature of the finish in both the raw and the cured state. How many finishes do you use that you would let a five year old help you to apply? Once the finish had dried I buffed the entire tansu with synthetic steel wool and a soft cotton cloth.
This project had a few experiments/challenges involved in it. Early on in the planning stages I knew that I wanted to incorporate walnut for some of the drawer fronts. I also knew that this would become an exercise in high contrast between the walnut, pine and the birch ply.
In a previous tansu I used cherry for the outer frame with pine and birch for the remainder. These woods compliment each other with red and orange tones throughout. The walnut with the pine and birch however, would quite literally create a contrast of black and white. Although there is a slight orange undertone. This meant that placement of the walnut and thus pattern would be of paramount importance. There were several approaches that I could have taken. I could have simply grouped the walnut together and created a block of walnut and pine drawers. I don’t believe that would have created much visual interest though. What I chose to do was two-fold. I used the walnut to anchor the drawer bank at both the top and the bottom. I used two walnut drawers at the bottom to add visual weight to the piece. The remaining walnut drawers were arranged to strengthen the asymmetric pattern of the remaining drawers. The entire look of the tansu would be different if I had chosen a different arrangement.
Another challenge the walnut presented was with the decorative elements. I knew that my Hillbilly Inlay would not show up very well on the walnut and thus would be very subtle. So I needed to keep the pattern for the inlay work subdued so the it would not become overpowering on the pine drawer fronts. The wood burning shadow line detail that I added to the perimeter bead worked out well in both the walnut and the pine.
I used a new drawer pull design on this tansu. Obviously based on an iron ring pull. I made these by laying up grommets in #120 tarred nylon, made solid with CA glue, and attaching them to the drawers with lanyard knots tied in #72 tarred nylon. I then added an area of texture with a home-made punch directly behind the ring. I did this knowing that this area be subject to wear every time the pull is grasped. So the texture should serve to camouflage any cosmetic issue down the road. I extended this texture, along with a stylized walnut leaf pattern, on the uppermost drawer front and on the lid of the sliding box/drawer. I further tied in the texture element with the decorative element on the drawer dividers.
I’m quite happy with the way that this tansu turned out. Both in design and execution. There are errors of course. 99% of which only a wood worker would notice. Still, I see them. I also know that is part of being a woodworker.
My son will be taking procession later today once he clears an area for its installation in his room. I hope that it will become one of his treasured possessions and that he will keep it with him as he travels though life.
On with the dog and pony:
Part 19 Greg Merritt