Greene & Greene inspired chest

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Project by Kenshu posted 12-19-2011 12:00 AM 1734 views 5 times favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This chest was based upon the chest in American Woodworker issue 149 but with some Greene & Greene inspired modifications. The chest is made from solid cherry with oak straps. After pricing ebony I decided to use oak plugs and accents and “ebonize” them using india ink. Since the india ink is water based I raised the grain on the plugs and accent pieces then sanded down prior to applying the ink.

This is a gift for a friend snd I wanted it to have the rich look of older cherry so I raised the grain, sanded to 220, and washed it with a weak solution of lye and water. I had never tried this and was amazed at how quickly the color came out. I finished it with 5 coats of General Finishes Arm R Seal semi-gloss using 0000 steel wool between coats. The final coat was gone over using 0000 and paste wax.

This chest is far from perfect but I am very happy with how it turned it out. The jointery really challenged me and I am sure a bandsaw would have made this much easier than my jigsaw.

Some things I learned from this project –
SHARP chisels are a godsend
Pipe bending works very well for the straps but make sure the straps are less than 1/4” (Mine are about 1/8”)
If using a lye wash apply prior to assembly, its almost impossible to get it into every nook and crany once its assembled.
Dont cut the mortises for the hinges until after the straps are in place. I did that first and the straps were located about half on half off the hinge. Doesnt cause a problem with their affectiveness but doesnt look quite right.

As always I welcome comments and critiques. I have learned a lot from the people on this site and some of the best advice comes from critiquing a piece.

-- The second mouse gets the cheese.

7 comments so far

View ocwoodworker's profile


209 posts in 2967 days

#1 posted 12-19-2011 12:32 AM

Absolutely beautiful!! Love it. I love building G&G. If you care to, check out my builds.

-- I'd like to believe Murphy's Law haunts my woodshop, because if it's Karma it would mean I had something to do with it. - K.R.

View NormG's profile


5928 posts in 2967 days

#2 posted 12-19-2011 01:29 AM

Great job, I am sure it will be loved and showed often

-- Norman - I never never make a mistake, I just change the design.

View Hoosierdaddy's profile


81 posts in 2604 days

#3 posted 12-19-2011 03:52 AM

Kenshu, I’ve been doing a lot of reading of late, studying the late 1800’s and early 1900’s arts and crafts movement, in which the brothers Greene were smack in the middle of. There is so much to their work that fine details such as yours pay proper homage to their heritage.

I would encourage you to keep doing what you’re doing as their fine work can only be appreciated when we all work to emulate their efforts.

-- I don't know what this is going to be like, but there's only one way to find out..........

View Trev_Batstone's profile


317 posts in 2456 days

#4 posted 12-19-2011 07:13 AM

A beautiful looking chest. Do you mind if I ask you how you made the curved top?


View BigTiny's profile


1676 posts in 2851 days

#5 posted 12-19-2011 01:20 PM

Nice job, dude! I too use the lye wash on cherry with amazing results. However, I’ve found it is safer to render the lye inactive after it has done its work with a mild white vinegar wash to counteract it before finishing. Otherwise you may get the overlaying finish deteriorating over time by interacting with the remnants of the lye in the wood. Unlikely, but better safe than sorry, right?


-- The nicer the nice, the higher the price!

View doncutlip's profile


2832 posts in 3519 days

#6 posted 12-20-2011 01:18 AM

Fine looking joinery, great finish too.

-- Don, Royersford, PA

View Kenshu's profile


26 posts in 3331 days

#7 posted 12-20-2011 06:40 PM

Kevin/Hoosier – I had not really looked much into Greene & Greene until I did this project. Since doing this I have really come to appreciate this style and I plan to do a lot more in it.

Trev – The top is made by riping the staves at particular angles to achieve the arc you want. I have done other chests in the past based upon staves of the same width and same angle that are more or less a half circle. Fine for those projects but I think I prefer the more gentle curve of this one. This top is based upon the one found in American Woodworker issue 149. It uses varying degrees as well as widths of staves. Once assembled I planed the sharp edges with a block plane then finished the curve by sanding it. Not as bad as it sounds.

BigTiny – great idea with the vinegar, I had not thought of that. I was worried about how the finish would hold up so I washed it several times with plain water and allowed it to completely dry for about a week before I applied any finish. I didn’t have an issues but time will tell.

Thnk you everyone for you kind comments.

-- The second mouse gets the cheese.

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