Wood Box for a 19th-Century English Bible

Craftsmen discuss period details, and materials appropriate for archival use. October 28, 2005

I've been asked to build a box for a Bible from England, about 140 years old. Iíd appreciate any experience or suggestions for this project. What type of wood would be appropriate, or typical of 19th century England? Does anyone have any type of construction or design suggestions? What about finishing - to protect the Bible and the wood?

Forum Responses
(Furniture Making Forum)
From contributor A:
I believe in that time period in England that Oak was the wood of choice.

From contributor B:
I have seen some old English projects that had hand cut dovetail corners. I think most in that timeframe had a wax finish on them or possibly shellac. Make sure you donít pick something that can leach onto the Bible.

From contributor C:
I would contact a large well known museum and talk to an archive expert.

From contributor D:
You need to research a wood and finish that will be the least reactive with the paper and leather over time.

From contributor E:
Contact a bookbinder. I know North Bennett Street School in Boston has a list of bookbinders on there website. Iím sure a quick email may lead you in the right direction as far as what to use for a finish. I would be hesitant to put any finish other than shellac on the inside. Get some furniture books with photos.

From contributor F:
We did some special cabinets for rare manuscripts and inside the wood cabinet was a sealed metal storage box. Wood is considered a bad thing as far as archives. Archival and museum people are the ones to talk to.