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Junk box find

OK. Here’s an ugly looking box that’s over 100 years old. Looks dog rough but I liked the size and the dovetails and the wood. Mahogany. Very sweet, rich grain beneath the bleached outside and the poor paint job inside. First discovery.



This box never saw any glue anywhere on it. The top and bottom are screwed, bars screws on the top, steel on the bottom. These screws are the very old type with super sharp corners. Second discovery: The dovetail joints are all sawn with very fine, fine saw cuts; The best I’ve seen in a long time for an old box. This guy new dovetails. Third discovery: All cuts were straight from the saw with no trimming with chisels to fit. Fourth discovery: The dovetails and pine recesses ar dead parallel, no tapered cuts to compress inaccuracies. Fifth discovery: Absolutely no trace of any glue at all, anywhere. Sixth discovery: Screwing the lid and bottom in place held the dovetails in place one side, and single brad nails at each corner through the rim, held the opposite side. There were no nails through the face of the dovetails into the pin recesses as was common practice for most chests. Seventh and last discovery for now: The tail recesses were undercut from both sides so that the shoulder lines had nothing in between to impair the tails from fully seating in there recesses.


I knocked the joints carefully apart with a soft-head chisel hammer.




With the parts all separated and nails and screws pulled, I scraped the old paint off the inside faces and then planed and sanded them to P 250-grit.




The plane was satin soft on the mahogany. Love this older stuff to work.



Shellac is a lovely finish, especially for adding color to and applying with a brush. here I am using a water colourist’s 1″ hake brush.

I finished the inside with three full coats, allowed two hours for drying and curing, and then buffed with steel wool before applying a coat of National Trust furniture paste wax. feels like it’s a hundred years old and cared for now. At least on the inside. I glued the box back together and set it to dry overnight. Tomorrow I will finish it off. I will use this box for my chisels..



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