Plan Chest


You can see why it was a bit of a wrench to part with my battered old oak plan chest. I guess that it's Edwardian. Back in the early 1980s, the woodworker teacher at Queen Elizabeth Grammar School in Wakefield was going to break it up for timber but when he heard that I was after a plan chest he arranged for me to buy it from the school. It was originally a third bigger with another two panels at the back on this end (an early form of plain plywood on the other) but it was too big to fit in my studio so I cut the whole thing down and rebuilt all 10 drawers.

I’VE BEEN treating the birch plywood carcass of my new plan chest/worktop with Osmo top oil. This oil and wax treatment is based on sunflower oil, soya bean oil and thistle oil with wax from the leaves of the Carnauba Palm, a native of Brazil, and from a spurge, Euphorbia sp., native to Mexico and Texas, known as the Candelilla or Wax Plant.

This non-toxic treatment worked so well on our beech-block kitchen worktops that I decided to go for the same finish in my studio. The two Ikea Alex range A2 drawer units that slot snugly inside the plywood frame are already finished in a white plasticised coatings of various sorts.

The whole unit is lighter in tone than my old oak plan chest and it fits a lot better into my long narrow studio space. The room is now less of a furniture repository and more a light, airy and, being less cluttered, a calm working space. I’m looking forward to a session of printing, folding, stapling and trimming copies of some of my black and white walks booklets, using my new work-top.

The £180 that I got fro my battered old plan chest paid for the two A3 drawer units that have replaced it. Even so I was sorry to see the old plan chest go, because it has been with me for a long time and I had put a lot of effort into restoring it.

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