Poplar Country Hutch
This hutch was designed for a country home in Western Massachusetts. It was constructed from poplar, a medium density hardwood which can be planed or sanded to a very smooth finish. Poplar is rich in color including olive green, pinkish brown, dark grey and pale purple. Although not discernable in this photo, each set of panels, doors and drawers were book matched. Purple glass pulls contrast nicely with the white pickling finish. Three coats of water based polyurethane provide a hard, clear protective top coat. The finish and style were chosen to match the existing kitchen cabinets. This one piece hutch is rather large, with dimensions dictated by the customer. It stands 87 1/4" tall, 41 1/2" wide, 27 3/4" deep at the bottom, 17" deep at the top, and when the glass doors are closed the shelf can accommodate a 12 3/4" diameter plate.
Shaker Drop Leaf Table
This Shaker drop leaf dining table was made for a woman who lives in Walpole, Maine, where Shaker furniture is very popular. The requirements were that it comfortably sit 6-8 people with leafs up, allow for chairs to be placed under leafs when down, and simple tapered legs. Her choice for hardwood was tiger maple. This piece measures 80" long, 25 5/8" wide with leafs down, 42" wide with leafs up, and 30" high. Leafs are mounted with the classic rule joint. Apron and legs are joined with mortise and tenon and reinforced with pegs that display nicely. To make the tiger stripes pop out, this piece was stained with Moser's 1490 Golden Amber water-based aniline dye followed by 4 coats of hand rubbed Waterlox Original Tung Oil and finally 2 coats of hand rubbed J. E. Moser's Premium Quality Paste Wax.
This secretary was a gift to my daughter upon graduating from Wellesley College. It features a solid cherry body with dovetail joinery. Drawers are made of blistered maple fronts and birch bodies with hand dovetailed joinery and beveled, floating bottoms. The lapped back boards are secured with wrought head nails. Ogee feet are hand shaped, and care is taken to match grain that flows around the corner. The desk is finished with Pennsylvania cherry gel stain, 4 hand-rubbed coats of Waterlox Original Tung Oil and a polyurethane topcoat.
These side tables were made and sold in pairs. I have made them using tiger maple, shown left, or cherry shown right. They stand 27” tall and the top measures 20” x 17”. The tiger maple version is first stained with Golden Amber aniline dye followed by hand rubbed tung oil and a top coat of polyurethane. Cherry tables are not stained, just hand rubbed with tung oil and a polyurethane top coat.
This design was inspired by an antique owned by a friend. I was taken by the very delicate, narrow, tapered legs and two drawer look. The original used low quality construction techniques and the top looked too heavy. The new design uses solid traditional construction. The double drawers are hand dovetailed with beveled floating bottoms and Shaker maple pulls. All joints are mortise and tenon. The heavy top look was fixed by first enlarging it in both directions, and then tapering the edges.
This double bed was made for an artist on Cape Cod who wished to add a bit of the Berkshires to her cottage home. The design is not mine, but adapted from an article in Workbench Magazine, Heirloom Bed, March/April 2001, page 52. Constructed entirely of native New England cherry, it is finished with a natural, hand rubbed tung oil. Cherry will darken naturally with age to a rich reddish brown. The legs and rails are one piece, no glue-ups. This adds a little to the cost but makes the finished product more appealing.
Though not visible, the curved rail of the headboard has a natural grain pattern that looks like a dolphin jumping out of the water. We are always looking for natural patterns to incorporate in a piece.
This bed is rather high, with a clearance of 12" under the bed to allow for storage and easy cleaning.
Shaker Blanket Chest
This traditional Shaker blanket chest is made of tiger maple. It has one drawer with dovetail joinery and a tapered floating bottom. The carcass of this piece is also constructed using hand cut dovetails. When first used in the 17th century, dovetails were merely a joinery technique and hidden from sight. Later on they were integrated into the style and finish of a piece. Today, hand cut dovetails are a sign of craftsmanship, proudly displayed by cabinetmakers, and poorly imitated by commercial manufacturers. Here hand cut dovetails can be seen in the body, legs and drawers in the right photo. Also, the trim on the top is mounted using a sliding dovetail which prevents splitting and cracking of the joints as the top expands during seasonal changes. This can be seen when viewing the back edge.
This chest is stained with Moser's 1490 Golden Amber water-based aniline dye followed by 4 coats of hand rubbed Waterlox Original Tung Oil and finally a coat of hand rubbed J. E. Moser's Premium Quality Paste Wax. The hinges and stays are polished brass. The stays lock the top open until released, a safety feature that avoids the top slamming on a finger.
This piece measures 20 3/8" deep, 40 1/4" wide and 27" high.
Shaker Wall Clock
This Shaker Wall Clock was a 50th birthday gift for a friend. It is modeled after an original designed and built by Isaac N. Youngs of the New Lebanon, NY Shaker village. It measures 28" tall, 11 1/4" wide and 5 7/8" deep. The carcass sides, top and bottom are joined using sliding dovetail joints, not used in the original, but provides for stronger construction. The doors are joined using through mortise and tenons. Mortise and tenons, like the dovetails described above, were originally hidden, but in a piece like this they add to the simplicity and elegance.
The clock dial (face) was drawn using a CAD tool & printed on inkjet printer card stock. Four coats of spray polyurethane were applied to keep the ink from smearing when touched, and also to give the face a slightly yellow, older look. The glass is held in with Durham's Rock Hard Water Putty, which dries slightly yellow, again providing the older look.
A quartz clock movement was used because they last longer than most mechanical movements on the market today and provide two years service between battery changes, avoiding the weekly ritual of winding a spring. Hinges are solid brass, and the doors hare held shut with embedded magnets. The finish is 4 coats of hand rubbed Waterlox Original Tung Oil and one coat of J. E. Moser's Premium Quality Paste Wax.
This sofa table measures 18 1/2" deep, 38" wide and 29" high. It is similar in design to the end tables shown above. The tapered top is carried through to reduce the overall massiveness, but the tapered legs are slightly wider to compensate for the larger surface area, and the side by side drawers are lipped. Constructed from highly figured tiger maple it is finished using Golden Amber aniline dye with hand rubbed tung oil and a top coat of polyurethane. This table would look equally striking constructed of curly cherry and naturally finished.
This table would look equally striking constructed of curly cherry and a natural finish.
Shaker Audio-Visual Center
This piece was designed for an individual who wanted an audio-visual entertainment center in the Shaker style. This is accomplished with the curved crown molding, dovetailed feet, wide stiles on either side of the door, and frame & panel construction. The carcass construction uses mortise and tenon joinery on the frame & panel ends, and dovetailed rails on the front and back. Faithful to Shaker tradition, drawers are constructed with hand cut dovetails and beveled floating bottoms. Native cherry hardwood is used throughout the entire piece. Hinges, drawer pulls and door knob are solid antique brass. Baroque glass was chosen because its wavy surface compliments the grain of the cherry drawers and slightly obscures the high tech components housed within. Dimensions are 80" tall, 36" wide and 26 1/4" deep. A satin smooth finish is achieved with 4 coats of hand rubbed Waterlox Original Tung Oil and one coat of J. E. Moser's Premium Quality Paste Wax.
Normally the drawers of a Shaker piece are graduated, but true to Shaker beliefs, form follows function; these drawers will store CDs and DVDs, and therefore are all the same height. The upper cupboard will house audio and video components, with provisions for air movement to keep electronic equipment cool. The video display is a plasma unit that hangs on the wall, hence is not housed in the entertainment center. To make cabling between components easier a "barn" door was provided on the back. This door can be removed to gain access to input and output terminals.
The Shakers were quick to embrace new technology, and would no doubt enjoy today's audio-visual components, though I am sure they would prefer to hide them in an entertainment center like this.
A note about shop drawings. I draw all furniture plans in 3D using TurboCAD™. Every joint, sub-assembly or finished assembly can be viewed from any angle ensuring the drawings are correct and pieces will go together during assembly. This is analogous to building a prototype, only it is much quicker and problems can be resolved on paper without the waste of costly materials. You can view the front and side of this piece as it was drawn in TurboCAD™ and rendered in 3D. Note that changes were made in the final piece, e.g. the muntins and mullions were eliminated from the door because it was felt their lines would "fight" with the audio-video components inside.
I made a pair of bedside tables for a couple who wanted to complement their country style pencil post bed. The table stand is cherry with blistered maple drawer fronts outlined with a walnut cock bead. Drawer pulls are cherry, cut with long grain exposed. These tables stand 27 1/2” tall. The tops measures 18 1/2” x 23”. The finish is four coats of hand rubbed Waterlox Original Tung Oil.
The combination of blistered maple and cherry contrasts with the walnut to direct your eyes to the figure in the drawer front. The gentle curve in the lower apron gives this piece a country look while the tapered top suggests a delicateness. However, rest assured the solid construction of this piece will ensure it lives to become an antique of value.
Tall Shaker Wall Clock
This Shaker Wall Clock, like the one above, was also a 50th birthday gift. It is inspired by an original designed and built by Isaac N. Youngs of the New Lebanon, NY Shaker village. It measures 30 1/2" tall, 11 1/4" wide and 5 7/8" deep. Construction is identical to the clock described above.
The carcass is solid cherry. The door frames are black walnut. The panel in the lower door is book matched spalted maple. Spalting occurs when wood is decaying, and spalted wood is generally considered worthless. However, when caught in a stage of decay where the wood is still hard, it can provide a unique and beautiful figure. Spalted maple is often found in piles or stacks of fire wood. It takes a trained eye to spot good specimens.
A quartz clock movement was used, but instead of displaying a functionless pendulum, the lower compartment has been turned into a small storage cabinet with adjustable shelves. The traditional peg board hanger has been removed, though a key hole is provided in the rear to allow for hanging on the wall. This clock would look equally elegant sitting on an office credenza.
The contrasting colors of cherry and black walnut combined with the figure of spalted maple give this piece a more contemporary look. The finish is 4 coats of hand rubbed Waterlox Original Tung Oil and one coat of J. E. Moser's Premium Quality Paste Wax.
Cherry Chest Of Drawers
A custom five drawer cherry chest in the Shaker style. Simple and elegant. This chest has unusual dimensions dictated by the rather small area it will occupy in a Cape Cod cottage bedroom. It measures 32 1/2" wide, 45 1/4" tall and 15 1/2" deep. The drawers are graduated in approximately 1" increments from 5" to 9 3/8".
The cherry wood for the body was cut and milled by Gary Rodd of Russell, Massachusetts. The cherry for the back is marked by Hairy Woodpeckers and was cut by Paul Waite on his property on Mica Mill Road in Chester Massachusetts. It was fastened to the body with traditional wrought head cut nails. The drawer bodies (excluding drawer fronts) are made from spalted birch. Drop drawer pulls are semi-bright brass . From the photo of the top you can see that the carcass is constructed using hand cut dovetail joints as are the feet and all drawers. Like many of my pieces this one was finished with 4 coats of hand rubbed Waterlox Original Tung Oil and one coat of J. E. Moser's Premium Quality Paste Wax.
Butternut Gun Cabinet
The butternut hardwood used in this gun cabinet has been supplied by the client and harvested on his own property. Butternut is dark brown in color, though lighter than black walnut which it resembles. Like black walnut it can be sanded to a polished finish.
Because his house is an old home in a heavily wooded area in Chester, Massachusetts the client prefers a somewhat rustic and simple look. To achieve this goal, and in keeping with the way wood might have been used two hundred years ago, no attempt was made to hide the worm holes and structurally sound knots. In addition, the design incorporates no curves, just simple straight lines with the exception of the gun dividers. Both the top and bottom carcass is constructed with hand cut dovetails that show, adding to the rustic and simple look. Lastly, the doors and drawer have been fitted with antique brass hardware. Note the deer image on the drawer pulls.
In the picture of the base on the left you can see the rich brown color of butternut. The picture on the right reveals various size worm holes in the top. Note the hand cut dovetails that show when the piece is finished. Worm holes can run in any direction. An enlargement of one dovetail can be seen with what appears to be a split in the wood. It is not. Rather it is a shallow worm hole running in the same plane as the top.
The top cabinet can be detached for moving. The lower cabinet contains a rather large drawer suitable for storage of fire arm accessories and ammunition. The top cabinet is accessed through two glass doors. The gun cabinet can hold up to 8 rifles and/or shotguns. The assembled gun cabinet stands 78" tall, 44 1/2" wide and 19 1/4" deep. The piece has been finished with 3 coats of hand rubbed Waterlox Original Tung Oil. No wax was applied for fear it would clog in the worm holes.
Shaker Tall Clock
This Shaker tall clock was inspired by a clock designed and built by Benjamin Youngs, Sr., circa 1809, of the Watervliet, New York Shaker Village and held in a private collection. A photograph of the original can be seen in The Complete Book of Shaker Furniture by Timothy D. Rieman and Jean M. Burks, page 163. Slightly larger than the original (81" H x 20" W x 9 7/8" D) this piece measures 85" H x 21 5/8" W x 12 5/16" D and is constructed from solid cherry hardwood. Other changes from the original are the simple footed base, an arched waist door to complement the arched hood and arched side windows in the hood. The piece has been finished with 3 coats of hand rubbed Waterlox Original Tung Oil.
The hardware is polished brass consisting of drop pulls, one small pull for the hood door and a larger one for the waist door, a set of overlay hinges for the waist door, and a special pair of hinges designed specifically for tall clock hood doors which allow the door to clear the deep arched inset. The 8-day Kieninger clock movement is cable wound and weight driven with a top mounted bell that strikes on the hour and half hour. It was purchased from Green Lake Clock Company.
This piece was designed and crafted for my oldest son as a surprise gift to his wife in celebration of their anniversary - twelve hours on a clock, twelve years of marriage. It is sure to be handed down to future generations in his family.
Although the design is traditional and simple keeping with the Shaker influence, the construction, on the other hand, is not. This piece is constructed using hand cut dovetails and mortise & tenon joinery which will last for hundreds of years to come. To see the various stages of construction, details of joinery and explanation of technique, click here.
This piece embodies many traditional aspects. The "six pane" in six pane oak hutch refers to the number of glass pieces in each door. The glass pieces are sometimes called lights because they allow outside light to display the contents. Lights, or panes, are divided and supported by vertical and horizontal members called mullions and muntins respectively. This gives rise to the name divided lights.
Hutch is the name most used in contemporary times when referring to this type of furniture. But historically this would be called a hutch cupboard, cupboards being any piece of furniture used to store things. A hutch is a cupboard with drawers and shelves. The shelves could be open as in "open hutch", or enclosed with doors as this one is.
Commissioned by a sweet, elderly, retired couple who have collected oak furniture over many years, this piece is finished to match the chairs and table in their dining room (I can say "sweet, elderly, retired couple" because they are in fact my brother and sister-in-law). The primary wood is quartersawn white oak. White oak has more attractive figure than red oak due to its larger rays. These rays are exposed and enhanced by the method used to cut the rough lumber, called quartersawn. Quartersawn produces a straight grain which is perpendicular to the face when viewed from the end.
Overall dimensions are 52"W x 88"T x 18 1/2"D. The front view is a nearly perfect golden rectangle, an aspect ratio most pleasing to the eye, and which has been the cornerstone of furniture design for many thousands of years. The hutch is built in two pieces to make moving easier. The base has three drawers constructed with hand dovetail joints and solid beveled floating bottoms; two doors are constructed using mortise and tenon frame and panel construction, with beveled panels. Inside the doors are two storage shelves, the base bottom and one half shelf.
There are three shelves in the enclosed top case, or cupboard; two fixed shelves plus the bottom. All three are grooved to support plates that stand against the back. The top of the base is also grooved providing four plate groves total. The opening between the upper case and the lower case's top, called a pie shelf, was traditionally 4". This was just high enough to allow for pies to be placed there. More contemporary designs increased this dimension to 8", but in this design it has been increased to 12". This will allow all four shelves to support vertical plate displays of plates as large as 12".
The crown molding is made of traditional cove molding sandwiched between a quarter-round on top and a delicate bead on bottom. The feet are hand crafted custom ogee. Both the cupboard and the base are constructed using hand dovetail joinery. The joinery in the base shows on its top which can be seen in the picture at right and also top left.
This piece is finished with two initial coats of hand rubbed Waterlox Original Tung Oil. This is followed by five coats of high gloss MinWax Wipe-On Poly to provide a durable finish. The clear finish brings out the natural warm brown and yellowish cream colors of the white oak and highlights the many arrangements of rays the run across its grain.
You can follow the construction of this project which is documented under the Craftsmanship menu on the Six Pane Oak Hutch page.
My office has been in need of a working table since I moved into my current home in 2001. However, like the shoemaker's children, I never got around to building one until just recently. The required dimensions have always been clear to me. This table is 30" T x 30" W x 72" L. What was not clear is the wood species I would use to build it. When I drew the plans up in SketchUp it was all cherry.
As I began work on it I decided I wanted a tiger maple top. As I began work on the drawer I decided I wanted a blistered maple front. And so it went. This table has four species of wood and five different wood grains. In addition to the previously mentioned uses, I used a black walnut bead to outline the blistered maple drawer front. The drawer side are tiger maple and the bottom is birch.
The drawer is almost 24" square and 2" deep. Just deep enough for a plastic organizer and other commonly used office supplies and tools. The legs are gently tapered. The aprons are attached to the legs with mortise-and-tenon joinery. The drawer is constructed using hand cut dovetails. For a detailed look at the drawer construction see "The Design & Construction of a Traditional Drawer" and "The Crafting of a Traditional Drawer" on my blog. The top is secured with hardware that allows for expansion and contraction to avoid splitting or breaking of joints as the seasons change.
Most often tiger maple is stained a darker reddish brown color to make the stripes pop out. This is traditional in Queen Anne furniture. But I wanted all the wood grains in this table to show their natural beauty. So I finished this piece with two coats of Waterlox Original Tung Oil followed by five coats of MinWax Wipe-on Polyurethane High Gloss. I may yet add one or two more coats of MinWax Wipe-on Polyurethane Satin finish to add more protection (this table will get substantial abuse in my office) and reduce the gloss finish.
You can read about and view the crafting of this piece by going to Crafting of an Office Table.
Wall Hanging Hand Tool Cabinet
I have a lot of hand tools, but until recently, if you toured my shop you could not see them. They were stored in a closed cabinet under a bench. This was very inconvenient and time consuming. I had promised myself for the last five years I would build a wall hanging cabinet which could remain open for the day, located next to my hand tool bench, to provide me quick access to my hand tools.
That promise has now come true. I drew the plans for the shell of the cabinet in SketchUp which can be down loaded from my Free Plans page. When closed the cabinet is 52" W x 41" H x 13 3/8" D. With the doors open it has a width of nearly 8' 8". I had saved a wall in my shop for this cabinet; my new Lie-Nielsen bench sits immediately in front of it. (If you are wondering why I didn't make my own bench, you only need to look at my honey-do furniture list.)
I plan for planes, saws, hammers, sanding blocks and other large heavy items to be stored in the cabinet. Files, chisels, screwdrivers, measuring and marking tools will be stored in the doors and drawers. Placing tools is a very personal task and is best done over time as you understand how you will use the cabinet and the tools inside. It may take me six months or more to fully utilize the cabinet space. You can see that I have made room for planes I intend to buy in the future. Also there are shelves for some consumable materials that are frequently used and need to be close by, such as pocket joinery wood screws.
The joinery is hand dovetail and mortise-and-tenon. The doors are attached with heavy duty piano hinges. Wood species are a mix of cherry knobs, tiger maple body and mahogany back. The finish is one layer of hand rubbed Waterlox Original Tung Oil followed by three coats of MinWax Wipe-on Polyurethane High Gloss.
This cabinet may look a little out of place in my shop, since my walls are all plywood, as are all my other cabinets. But hand tools deserve a special place and should be shown off. So this is a gift to myself and my precious hand tools.
For those of you who are woodworkers and are interested in the construction of this tool cabinet visit Crafting A Wall Hanging Hand Tool Cabinet.
Shaker Style Chain Driven Wall Clock
I promised my daughter that upon her graduation from law school I would give her a wall hanging Shaker style clock. She graduated in the spring of 2008. I completed this clock in October of 2009. A little late; but to keep anyone from finding out I printed 2008 on the clock dial. Pretty clever huh?
The clock carcass is cherry and though not visible is constructed with hand cut dovetail joinery. The back of the pendulum compartment is spalted maple which gives this relatively large area some interesting figure for eye appeal. To provide contrast the doors are made of walnut.
In keeping with the Shaker theme the trim is simple bull nose and quarter round. Door pulls are turned "mushrooms" typical of what the Shakers would use.
The clock dial was drawn using Google SketchUp. The four I's to represent the numeral four is not a mistake. Though four is correctly represented as IV it is traditional in clocks to represent it as IIII.
After drawing the clock dial in SketchUp I applied an antique texture behind the numerals to add a little "age". Next I printed the dial full scale on 13" X 19" premium card stock. To protect the dial I applied seven coats of Spray-On MinWax Satin Polyurethane with the added benefit of still more aging (it dries slightly yellow). Finally the card stock is glued to a plywood backing. - Did he say plywood? Yes, an extremely rare occasion when I use anything but hardwood in my projects.
The mechanical clock movement is a German made Hermle model 241-080. It is an 8-day movement with a gong that strikes once on the half hour and counts out the hours. The serpentine hands are not in keeping with the Shaker style. Mother Ann would definitely not approve, but hey, my daughter likes them. The chains, bob and weights are brass plated. If you look closely at the bob you can tell these pictures were taken in my shop. The bob shows a reflection of me and my 15" planer.
To complete this project I used non-mortising hinges and rare earth magnetic catches. The hinges have an antique brass finish. To keep the clock level in the vertical direction I used two adjusting pins that have sharp points which dig slightly into the wall and can also be adjusted for level in the orthogonal vertical plane. These pins are made especially for this purpose and are a traditional piece of clock hardware. I finished this piece with seven coats of hand rubbed MinWax Wipe-On Polyurethane Satin Finish.
An American Chippendale Mirror Reproductions
Lonnie Bird sent out a newsletter describing a Pennsylvania German Mirror he crafted as a Valentine’s Day gift for the women in his life - his wife and daughters. I showed it to my wife and she said “What a wonderful gift. We should build some as Christmas gifts for our family.”
So I set about looking for a design. I searched the net and looked at many a mirror but none caught my eye. Then it dawned on me that we had an American Chippendale mirror hanging in our house. Why it took me so long to make the connection I don’t know. I studied it some and realized it was much more pleasing than any I had researched. Better yet there is a story behind this mirror. In that moment of realization a reproduction effort was born.
The original mirror is an American Chippendale mirror made sometime in the late 1800’s. My wife received it from Marguerite Emily Davis, of Fitzwilliam, New Hampshire, who was her maternal grandmother’s older sister. It had originally been a wedding gift to Marguerite’s parents William Aquilla Davis (1855 – 1911) and Hattie A. Haskell (Feb 6, 1858-1929). William Aquilla Davis (named, we suppose, for the Revolutionary soldier) was a New Hampshire granite quarryman who cut stone for the Library of Congress which, in 1897, was moved to a new building east of the Capitol. His initials are carved into the stone of the Library. Hattie had worked in Concord, Massachusetts as the paid companion to Louisa May Alcott (1832-1888), author of the book Little Women, prior to marrying William. This must have been in Alcott’s later years (though she was only 56 at her death) when she returned home from her work as a Union Army nurse in the Civil War and following the success of her book, Little Women, which provided her with the financial security to afford a paid companion.
A picture of the original mirror can be seen by clicking here. I took this picture to form the basis of a Google SketchUp drawing from which I made a SketchUp model. You can download plans for this mirror from my Free Plans page.
Willow and I made six mirrors in all. Five are tiger maple and one is a combination tiger maple and cherry (I have a fetish for mixing woods). Four of the tiger maple mirrors were stained with Moser’s 1490 Golden Amber water-based aniline dye followed by 4 coats of hand rubbed Minwax Wipe-On Satin Polyurethane. This was followed by one coat of hand rubbed J. E. Moser’s Premium Quality Paste Wax.
The remaining two mirrors have a clear finish; 4 coats of hand rubbed Minwax Wipe-On Satin Polyurethane followed by one coat of hand rubbed J. E. Moser’s Premium Quality Paste Wax. The cherry frame, shown left, will darken substantially over time as it is exposed to light. This will provide a nice contrast to the blonde finish of the tiger maple.
The tiger stripes are striking in all three mirrors. I am partial to natural (clear) finishes. However, the Golden Amber stain is a more traditional finish for tiger maple pieces. It’s simply a matter of taste and that is a very individual thing. Fortunately, the recipients chose their desired finish. Yes, Santa let them peak using the “anyone over 26 years of age can peak rule”. I think they will enjoy these mirrors for years to come and hopefully they will be passed down for many generations in our family.