Monday, June 30, 2014

Wedding Present

It was pointed out to me that I never posted anything about the chest of drawers that I made for my daughter and her husband as a wedding present. I built it in what's commonly referred to as the Greene & Greene style, after Charles and Henry Greene, brothers who were architects and furniture makers who worked in the first part of the 20th century, and who were strongly influenced by the Arts & Crafts movement.

I  built it from lyptus, a farm grown hardwood similar in appearance and workability to true mahogany.

Here I am working on laying out the boards for the top of the cabinet. This can be a fairly time-consuming process if one wants to make the transition from board-to-board appear as natural as possible.

Now I am edge-gluing the boards. This can be tricky, especially when working by oneself because the boards must be carefully aligned, with no gaps, and clamped tightly enough for a good joint but not so tightly that all the glue is squeezed out.

And here is the assembled top before the "breadboard ends" are added. There is a fair amount of engineering that goes into making pieces of furniture of this size out of wood, because wood expands and contracts due mainly to changes in humidity. Further, almost all this expansion and contraction occurs across the grain and almost none parallel to the grain. Thus, if not properly designed a piece of furniture can pull itself apart.

This is the skeleton of the piece, test-fitted together.

Here you can see the sides and back of the cabinet. Those panels that fit between the rails and stiles are not glued in place, but rather just float in grooves. Again, this is to allow for expansion and contraction of the wood.

This is the layout of the drawer fronts. I am again matching grain for the best appearance and working on the arrangement of the carved ginkgo leaves, before I inlay them.  The leaves are carved from a wood called yellowheart. I also patterned the drawer pulls after some Greene & Greene architectural details.

Finally, here is the completed piece. I wanted it to be able to be used as either a dresser or a dining room side-table. For that reason I used hidden ball-bearing drawer glides so if it was used to store dishes or other heavy items the drawers would be up to the task.

Well that's it. I hope you like how it came out.