AramcoBrats, Inc.

Restoring a Mandoos/Kuwaiti Chest/ Arab Dowry Chest/

  • 15 Feb 2016 7:59 PM
    Message # 3824099

    I have a very old Mandoos purchased in Muscat in the mid-1950's by my mother, Helen Humphrey. It was an antique when she bought it, so I'm guessing it was built in the late 1800s. It is solid teak, is covered with ornate thin brass, and weighs a ton. It has never been restored and is in very good condition for its age. This chest has travelled, let me tell you! From Ras Tanura to California, California to Oregon, Oregon back to California, California to Australia. It has always been packed out of sight from the time the Humphreys have owned it.

    Somewhere on an Aramco website, I have seen an article on how a Mandoos should be restored, but I believe it has since been removed. So now I find myself wanting to sell this rather rare and valuable chest, but wondering whether I should attempt to slather some teak oil on it -- not that I personally would want to, or have the skills to restore it.

    An anyone help?

    Contact me directly at:

    Turk Thomas Humphrey/RT58/Feb 16th 2016/Gold Coast, Queensland

  • 16 Feb 2016 8:57 AM
    Reply # 3825249 on 3824099

    There are instructions for cleaning here:

  • 20 Jul 2020 1:52 PM
    Reply # 9114485 on 3824099
    Deleted user

    Cleaning and Restoring an Arab Chest:

    Forget the phrase "Adorned in the patina of a bygone age". Dirt, grime and tarnish detract from the chests beauty and value. 

    Remove dust and dirt with a soft brush, being extremely careful of the brass sheeting and studs. Take note of the spots where the brass sheeting has come loose. 

    In a WELL VENTED area, clean the wood using Mineral Spirits and a soft cloth. Soak the cloth in the spirits and rub with the wood grain. Wipe with a clean cloth, the 1st few passes, you're probably going to bring up a lot of grime. Repeat until your 2nd cloth comes away clean.

    Let the spirits evaporate away, then hydrate the wood with teak oil. Just follow the instructions on the can and let the chest sit overnight. 

    Next, tackle the loose bits of brass sheeting. Clean the underside of brass and the underlying wood with a Q-Tip and mineral spirits to remove any residue or just plain muck. Old school would use a pine resin to adhere the loose brass sheeting to the chest. If you aren't old school, there are several epoxy resins available. You'll probably find at least a couple of missing nails along the way. Replace with brass escutcheon pins as needed. 

    To clean and polish the brass, forget Brasso. Use Mothers Mag and Aluminum Polish. It works faster with less work and cleaning the residue is much easier. 

    Finish the chest with Howard Citrus Shield Paste Wax. Apply to the brass as well as the wood, that'll slow the brass tarnishing to a trickle.

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