Tuesday, January 15, 2013

My new project

Having just finished a William and Mary spice chest for Popular Woodworking, I'm now planning my next project...

18 x 26 spice chest. No, it isn't 6 feet tall
I need a desk. The library in my new house is quite bare and needs to be furnished appropriately.  However, I'm not a huge fan of the traditional Chippendale secretary form. It is simply too tall in proportion, too ostentatious for my tastes. They are lovely work, of course, but they are not for me. So I looked a little further back in time.

photo from Colonial Williamsburg
This is the 1707 Edward Evans escritoire desk. It is the earliest known signed and dated piece of Philadelphia furniture. It is currently in the collection at Colonial Williamsburg, but I love the form so much that I will build one for my own personal use.

My new piece.
This piece is featured in numerous books on Philadelphia Furniture, including Worldly Goods, Philadelphia Furniture and Its Makers, and Hornor's Classic (and indispensable) Blue Book: Philadelphia Furniture. William Penn to George Washington.

Using the published dimensions and a couple of photos from the above mentioned sources, I worked out the dimensions of the piece. This is a wonderful way to make use of your dividers, your folding rule, and a sketch pad. I've got the process down to an hour or two to work out the major dimensions and proportions. The rest will be figured out at the bench as I work.

At 5 1/2 feet tall, this is is perfect for my library. Walnut, like all my furniture. Classic William and Mary style. I will be documenting this build as I complete it, but I just finished my construction drawing last night. Rarely do I work from a drawing (and never a plan), but this piece is complex enough that I felt a working drawing would be helpful to make sure I lay out all the dadoes in the right spot. Plus, I really like sketching moldings...