Finishing Secondary Wood on Case Pieces


Active member
Hi to all,

I recently completed the Philadelphia Walnut Chippendale Bureau, the plans for which were supplied to SAPFM by
Larry Mauritz.  It has very nicely shaped ogee feet with the primary walnut backed up with secondary wood

I noticed that the secondary wood around the feet, including the glue blocks show quite a bit when the piece is in a room.  The secondary wood used was poplar, so it really contrasts with the walnut. 

I've never noticed that contrast in highchests and dressing tables, and of course there is not much secondary wood in chairs. 

So my question is how to others handle this?  How about on the originals?  As many times as I've been through the museums in Williamsburg,  I can't say that I've noticed the secondary wood contrasting with the primary. 

Your thoughts and comments would be appreciated.


Frank Duff
Monkton, MD


Active member
Hi Jack,

Thanks for your reply.    The images you provided in those three links gave me some suggestions on how others deal with this contrast in color. 

Upon reflection, I realize the contrast never bothered me with drawer sides. 

Since my chest is finished, I think I will live with it for a bit.  However, if I find that I can't, I believe that I could carefully brush a wash over the secondary wood associated with the feet.

Best regards,


Well-known member
There are probably a number of ways to do it. I have 2 chests of drawers (Empire period), both using poplar as secondary wood, both where the secondary behind the feet are visible. One was clearly coated with a very dark wash, brush marks etc. are visible on the bottom of the chest. The other does not appear to have had any thing done to it, but the poplar has oxidized to a dark brown.

So I would think it just comes down to what you want to do. If seeing it doesn't bother you I would leave it.