Thursday, December 12, 2013

Sums up why I do what I do...

"These forgotten people are my fellows. They are the silent ones on whose behalf I want to speak... They left behind visible and tangible objects created by their own hands: dumb things that speak to me across the centuries in a language that no text can reproduce... I feel an affinity with the makers of these things."

- Stephen Batchelor

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Gooseneck Hardware

Obtaining authentic looking hardware is one of most important steps of reproducing a piece of 18th century furniture.  Without correct hardware, the piece will always look off, no matter how careful you are in the making / finishing / aging process.  

Authentic hardware isn't cheap but it is readily available.  Just don't go to the local borg and expect to find it. I have used hardware from both Horton Brasses and Londonderry Brasses in my work and can vouch for the excellence of both suppliers.  Horton seems to have a wider selection of general hardware for a wide range of furniture styles, while Londonderry seems to focus on having more options within a narrower time period. 

Now, for examples. The hardware for my Taunton Chest came from Horton. The drop pull (H-24 in light antique for those playing along) was the perfect size. 

The hardware is prettier than my painting but I'm getting better all the time...

The hardware for my spice chest was tough to find. Nancy at Londonderry pulled out all the stops and found me the perfect small drawer pulls. Expensive but worth every penny.

Perfect scale
My gooseneck requires some fairly simple hardware. A pair of appropriate hinges (i.e. hinges that don't look machine made) and a simple hook and eye for the door. This piece is a little unique in that it hinges on the left and opens from the right, exactly the opposite of most clock hoods. But I called Nancy and she took care of my hardware needs in style.

About $50 worth of Londonderry

A beautiful pair of uneven, handmade-looking clock hood hinges, flat head screws for said hinges, and a rather delicate little hook and eye to hold the door closed. The hinges will have to be swaged, the points of the screws will be cut off and I will dry brush green pigment into the hardware to simulate patinated brass. I would love to find a source of period-correct offset slot flathead screws but have been unable to do so thus far. I'm not a metal worker so making them is a little beyond me at the moment.

Lovely period-correct craftsmanship on hinge H26.

Neat little hook for holding the door closed.  Hook HL9 and eye HL12 

Beautiful stuff, as you can see. I can't wait to install these into my cabinet. This quality of hardware will really raise your work to the next level. I encourage all of you who make period furniture to check out Londonderry.

If you have a favorite period hardware supplier, let me know in the comments section. 

Monday, December 9, 2013

Carpenters Hall and the 1st Continental Congress

This weekend, I was combing through some old photos, looking for a specific piece of furniture.  While I didn't find the photo I was looking for, I did run across a couple of interested photos from my trip to Philadelphia back in 2011.

Just two blocks away from the State House (now known as Independence Hall) sits the Carpenters Hall.  Rather than risk Tory intervention by meeting at the State House, the members of the First Continental Congress chose to meet at the newly-completed Carpenters Hall.

Carpenters Hall as it appeared in 2011.
The building itself is a fascinating look at the architecture and building techniques of the 18th century (the building had just been finished in 1774 when it was chosen to be the first meeting house for the Continental Congress).

There are a number of old tools (mostly 19th century but still interesting), some dioramas of colonial building techniques, and a number of banners and flags used by the Carpenters Company of Philadelphia in parades.  But, by far, the best part of the building (at least for an 18th century furniture geek) are the chairs...

Chairs, you might be asking? Zach, you're not a chair maker and you've never shown an interest in chairs... why would you care? Well, dear readers, these are eight of the ACTUAL chairs in which the members of the First Continental Congress parked their rears while beginning to lay the framework of the crazy idea that would ultimately become the nation we know and love today.

I present the pics I (and my wife April) took of those chairs here to you now. Unfortunately, I was unable to get close enough to provide scale, but the chair builders among you should be able to figure it out.

I hope that someone finds this information helpful.