MarkN1975

Choosing wood for a steamer trunk

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Hi guys,

I'm making a large steamer trunk for a client. I haven't made one before so I'm trying to figure out the type of wood to use. The client wants a simple mid century design so no covering over the wood. The wood she wants has to be quote - "blond (ish)" in color. Maple is too light. Any suggestions?

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White oak is (was) one of the traditional woods used for steamer trunks. When steamer trunks were actually used for their intended purpose instead of just sitting pretty in a house, they had to endure months at sea and all the abuse that entailed, and white oak is one of the woods that could withstand that abuse, both in strength and rot resistance..

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Ok next question... How would you recommend I finish it? I usually go either with a Polyurethane/tung oil/boiled linseed oil blend, spray on polyurethane or a briwax clear paste wax finish. What do you think? Or should I consider a stain?

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Having just used it for my dining room table I am quite pleased with Arm R Seal satin. But something like. BLO is going to be period appropriate, just depends on how far you want to take the period part.

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So today, the misses and I finally brought home the old Steamer box from her grandma's.

 

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This one is a wardrobe style, sits upright like this, has 3 drawers on one side and hangers on the other....
 
Well, the misses thought it was going to be one of the bigger ones, so she started hunting CL and we scored this one for free:
 
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So now, we have two to refurb. The first one, the exterior seems to be like a thin leather covering, with thicker leather edges, brass hardware almost everywhere (two are steel?), and two sheet metal beams, all with brass rivets. 
 
The second one seems like it's tin wrapped, riveted together, with wood trim.

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Nice score on the trucks, Mr. Rhodes.  I'm guessing the OP wouldn't mind but you might want to start your own thread in the future.

 

For the outside I would use a *light leather cleaner like saddle soap and then be sure to follow ASAP with an oil to replenish the moisture.  I use neatsfoot oil on my saddles but be aware that it can darken the color.  Your trunk being black that might not be an issue.  Light applications are the key.  Depending on how shiney you want the metal, a light polish, perhaps with a rouge cloth, would be in order.  Remember with antiques patina from age is an important part of the value (except it seems in gold or silver) so you don't want to change the color too much.

 

For the OP, I have to agree with the suggestion of white oak although tinting or dyeing maple isn't a bad option either.

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Here's one of mine.. all original condition except new leather handles. Steamer trunks are built light and strong which dictates thin walls covered by tin and oak ribs for durability. Dimensions are 32x16x 21".

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post-6147-0-05750800-1411435632_thumb.jp

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