SCRAP Step 18 – Apothecary Chest

Still working on the clutter.    Today I turn my attention the  wonderful piece of furniture that takes pride of place in our main bedroom.    It is an apothecary’s chest that was made by my Uncle Den.   Den was a master carpenter, who over many years came to stay with us at Christmas, and each year presented us with a miniature apprentice piece of furniture that he had made specially for us.    It was always a joy to receive these unique and lovingly crafted gifts and they now adorn almost every room in the house.



Then one year he arrived with a big parcel strapped to the roof of his small car, which he had driven all the way from Gloucester.   This time it was no small apprentice piece, but a full-sized mahogany chest of drawers —-  5 drawers high, 4 drawers wide, each drawer perfectly fitted and made with sixteen dovetail joints, that makes 320 dovetail joints just for the drawers. Then there were 20 identical lathe turned holly button handles.   It was a masterpiece of craftsmanship that took him almost a year to do.


For once I can confidently say that none of these family treasures are clutter.  They deserve to be displayed simply and contain treasured possessions.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to SCRAP Step 18 – Apothecary Chest

  1. Wow!! Those are keepers!!

  2. begethers says:

    What a beautiful legacy – thank you for telling us about it John

  3. Mo Graham says:

    What lovely memories of Christmas’ past John when Uncle Den used to come and stay with us for a week or so over the festive season. One year – when I was heavily into my doing up/furnishing of Dolls’ Houses phase – Uncle Den (at my request) made me a d-ended mahogany dining room table which is beautifully inlaid with tiny, tiny pieces of marquetry. It’s magnificent and I treasure it. But he said he wouldn’t attempt any more pieces like this: apparently this small 1/12th scale hand crafted piece of dolls house furniture had taken him longer to make than a real full sized table capable of seating eight people would have done!

    What a lovely man Uncle Den was. What an amazing talent he had. What lovely tangible memories he left us with all his apprentice pieces😍

  4. A piece of real love in the making, and in its memories. John you are an ”old softiee” at heart, enjoy your horlicks or is it your cuppa chocolate/cocoa or plain tea, as you treasure the dreams!!!

  5. davidwfreeman237 says:

    Dear John, memories, of school days and a past life: What have I created that is a loving memory, and a thing of beauty to behold like your Uncle Dens’ apothecary cabinet and the many apprentice pieces, and I sadly come unstuck, my trade profession was engineering (Fitter) was to renew by replacement, or using lots of ‘Thistlebond’ (Glass fibre paste-in various forms) to repair all leaking service/steam and water pipes (Patch them up ), until the real operatives could repair them in the next port or if you were lucky at the next dry-dock.
    My hands, and my vision were not so dexterous and with feeling/love.
    When at secondary modern (Until going to the Tech), we had every Tuesday morning to catch a bus from Rawdon to Bramhope (Orphanage), where we were taught wood work. Besides learning how to use the various woodwork tools and lathes/mechanical saws, and the practice joints (Mortice and tenner-Dovetail- etc.), and other skills, we were permitted to create/make something: Dad at my request bought/obtained a square of sycamore (Sawn), and I used the lathe and turned it, and produced a Breadboard, which is still somewhere within the greater family. Then at the secondary modern we had gardening once/twice a week- (The school Benton Park was an old house converted, into a school and had an enclosed walled garden and green house), we learnt the skills of self-sufficiency, and were divided into 4 teams Brassica’s; roots; legumes? (4 year cycle-This was the science behind gardening?). I was taught how to put ones back into it?? And work.
    Next I am later in life at sea, make do and mending ships power plant, and on one run I was part of the crew that took an old/aging tanker to the breakers yard in Inverkeithing : A trip of some 4 months around the ‘MEDDI’ trading first of all with petrol cargo’s to clean the tanks and associated pipework and pumps, and then two full loads of light diesel oil (Gas oil) to reduce the flammability of the scale within the cargo tanks and again associated plant (!5,000 Tons-bulk cargo through the 4 months, and fairly long trips between each port, so that the various cargos’ loaded and discharged would slosh around the tanks and do their cleaning work.). Whilst on this 4 months odyssey I utilised scrap engine parts, and their associated packing materials, mainly wood, in the engineer room workshop-: I fabricated from Generator’ push rods’, and little bending/welding techniques a toboggan, which is still within the greater family. These are my only skills with my hands at a craft(s).
    As a family with Molly like most married couples we turned our hand to the usual household decorating skills; wallpapering/painting/distempering, and general cook and bottle washers, and gardening.
    So in my life I have only created two things of note; a toboggan, and a bread board, which have been treasure’s to keep; I am more like a ‘‘will’ ‘o’ the wisp’’?

    • john graham says:

      A really interesting post, David. Your life storey will be on this blog of ours, if someone were to unravel it 😀
      Being able to make do and mend is a skill in itself. Very useful if your ship was to run aground on a desert island.

  6. davidwfreeman237 says:

    lay was the 4th. year in the gardening cycle

  7. davidwfreeman237 says:

    The tanker we put to bed at Inverkething was a motorship ( some engineers would wax lyrical- the engine was a six legged opposed piston diesel engine of ”Doxford Design”, and some 6000 Brake horse power. The tanker was built and launced on the River Wear/Sunderland-[ Where the locals (at least the seafarers) grow pineapples in their gardens every summer???]- of some 15,000 Dead weight tons (!5,000 tons) a dedicated and designed as built product carrier, she the ‘old lady was some 17 years old, and was past her best mv Br Envoy. RIP.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s