Art Nouveau Frame — Tale of Woe!

Clayed and Gilded, Ready for Paint

Clayed and Gilded, Ready for Paint

Well, being an honest man means I have to admit to the failures in a project as well as the successes.  I know there were a few of my readers wanting to see how the Art Nouveau frame would turn out and have to report that it didn’t!  Not sure what happened because this technique has worked well for me in the past.  The technique was to spray the frame black after gilding the highlights with silver leaf.  After the paint dried I would use wax and a cotton ball to gently remove the paint from the gilded areas exposing them.  A reason for the failure may be that there was a different name on the can of Satin Black Rustoleum, it also had a different style of nozzle.  The paint wouldn’t dissolve with the wax as it had in the past, instead it became really gummy and then suddenly the red clay was exposed leaving very little of the silver gilding — not acceptable to say the least!  Lesson learned;  my test sample came out fine but that was with an older can of paint so it’s possible that the formulation changed and the new can of paint had one that set up quicker and harder.  Well, when you run into a problem you need to overcome and move onward.  I will use Naphtha or some type of solvent to remove all traces of the wax and then gild the entire face of the frame.  This time I’ll work in a more traditional fashion of sealing the leaf and then toning those areas of the frame I want to minimize — toning and antiquing of frames is a tricky area, one I need to work on so here’s my opportunity.

John’s Armoire — New Project

WoodworksbyJohn-CustomFurniture-LasVegas-Mahogany-DrwgAHere is the drawing I made for my new project — an Armoire.  It is my own design and I know it will be a very challenging piece.  Thos Moser has a very well known piece called Dr. Whites Chest which I’ve always admired but knew I would never be in position to buy.  Hey, I’m a woodworker so why not challenge myself to make my own plus add something to it to show my design sense.  Over-all this will be about 20″ deep by 4′ wide and the tallest section with the door will be 6′.  I want to use all traditional woodworking techniques and it is a post and panel construction.  I’ve done a lot of research and questioning to other woodworkers and there isn’t any easier way than to essentially make the front and rear frames which will have to be assembled at the same time while fitting the tenoned drawer runners/kickers into their mortises.  This will not be one of those weekend projects, more like a half year or so one!

The lumber I’m using is genuine Mahogany.  It just so happened that Woodworkers Source in Phoenix has it on sale this month prompting my 600 mile road trip yesterday.  After leaving Las Vegas at 4:00 am I arrived there a little over 5 hours later.  They have both 4/4 and 8/4 on sale and I had wrestled with which way to go.  I went with the 8/4 option even though it means more work as far as re-sawing and surfacing to make the project.  One big advantage to working this way is that the coloration of the wood will be more consistent through-out the piece.  I had my cutting list and chalk and spent close to 2 hours selecting the wood.  Unbelievable selection of wide boards, check out this one that is destined to become the panels for the sides and the doors; it’s almost 15″ wide and 8’+ long:

I was also able to select pieces to make the drawers out of single boards, they will be 7″-8″ wide.  Joining two boards together for the drawer front wasn’t the way I wanted to go so the final dimension was to be determined by the size of the boards I’m able to get from this wood.  Ended up with a bit more than 80 board feet of the 8/4 material and plenty of width to yield single board drawer fronts.  They also had a great selection of 4/4 material but the time and effort of going through and finding boards with similar grain pattern and coloration wasn’t worth it.  I suppose the unknown in all of this is how will the boards react after resawing — since there isn’t a time frame the plan is to sticker and allow them to settle down and dry after they have been cut.  This project will be a learning experience to say the least and I want to enjoy it rather than rush through it.  There are two potential clients for some custom work which would get priority over this personal project.  I tend to get obsessive so my mantra will be “Patience Grasshopper”!

Construction of the face frame (and back) will be a combination of draw bored mortise and tenons plus dovetails for the lower section.  That’s the best way to figure out the construction puzzle and is traditional.  Alder will be the secondary wood used for the interior web frames and the back.  The 3 drawer unit at the top will have the drawers suspended on runners and figuring out the exact construction details of that is one that I really haven’t finalized.  All other drawers will be traditional half blind dovetails with wooden runners.  The section with the door will have shelves for sweaters, shorts, etc.

The thought of under mount drawer runners to simplify the construction of this piece entered my mind but I want to stay traditional on this piece.  The Media Cabinet I built last year had a single bank of traditionally mounted drawers so this will just add to the complexity and challenge of the work!



About woodworksbyjohn

I'm a retired woodshop teacher. I build one of a kind furniture pieces and custom picture frames. You can see some of my currently available work, boxes, carvings through my Etsy store: Contact me about your project -- always up for the challenge of unique work.
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