I was recently very pleased to get some sweet chestnut boards from Bron Haul.
The before picture shows the very useful, and very ugly, fitted wardrobe and cupboard. It was too useful to get rid of but was a dominating feature that I disliked, and wondered what to do with. Well along came the sweet chestnut.
Our mutual friend, the oakwright Ron Smith, has previously built similar design cupboard doors out of spalted beech. I admired these and was very happy to `borrow` this design when using the sweet chestnut.
I understand David planted the trees in the late 1990`s and the boards were from trees felled by David and Ruth during the 18-19 winter. They had been milled to 3\4 inch waney edged boards and stacked carefully to season. When coming to me in February 2021 they measured about 15% water content and were not cupped or warped. They were in approximately 8ft lengths and the width varied between about 6 to 12 inches. They were heavily knotted.
This was the first time I`d worked with sweet chestnut and it proved easy to plane, chisel, saw, drill and sand. I jig sawed to follow the shapes of the boards and maximise their area. I used oak for the braces, largely because it was available, but I also hoped that it would help hold the doors together securely without twisting. I also used a wood hardener to conserve the knots which I like as attractive features. After two applications of Danish Oil the new doors have a beautiful honey coloured silk finish. I’ll probably paint the frame when I can decide what colour and I`m currently undecided whether to make wooden handles, perhaps yew, or get wrought iron ones to match the hinges. The wardrobe still dominates but now more pleasingly.
Thank you David and Ruth.