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Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Townsend Kneehole Bureau Drawings & Bottom Step 1

I have decided on my next project.  It will be the Townsend Kneehole Four Shell Bureau.  A bureau is like a chest, it used to store things and it is usually in a bedroom but it is not a dressing table.  That is the 18th century interpretation.

The Townsend Kneehole Bureau that I plan on reproducing is on display at the Yale Art Gallery. It can be located here. Townsend Bureau at Yale

It is a beautiful piece of 18th century furniture and highly prized by those who could obtain one.

The original was made from mahogany primary wood and chestnut as secondary wood.
It is nearly impossible to obtain chestnut these days because it was wiped out in the early 20th century.  I am going to use poplar and pine in it's place.

I am working on sourcing the original brasses pattern right now.  I want to reproduce this piece as close a possible to the original in construction and look.

I have some full size drawings mounted on the wall as I usually do for my project.

I have two matched 20 in wide by 12/4 mahogany boards 11 ft long for the project.  They are figured and matched grain.  I had them resawed with some 4/4 and the remaining 1 3/4 inches.

I marked out all of the 4/4 that I need for the sides, top and drawer dividers.

I glued up two poplar boards to make the bottom board.  It is 3/4 inch thick and 34 1/2 wide by 18 3/8 deep. The cut out in the middle I made with a hand saw is for the kneehole.

My jointer and planer are too small to handle this 20 in wide stock, so I have to hand plane them flat.  I just sharpened my Stanley #7, it is cutting real good.

Now I have the two sides flat and trimmed to 18 3/8 in and 13/16 thick.  It is time to plan the dovetails for the sides.

The tails are about 2 in wide, probably should be wider so there would be less to chop out.

The inside panels around the kneehole are being glued up.  I made them about 10 inches of mahogany and 9 inches of poplar since the inside of the kneehole is generally not seen I can use the secondary wood.

Sawing out the tails on the bottom of the sides.  I cut both at the same time.

After chopping out the tails and sawing the pins on the bottom. Here I am chopping out the pins on the bottom board.

Dry fitting the sides to the bottom board.  They are a good tight fit but probably too many.

Now that the sides are on, I am going to dovetail the inside panels to the hole in the bottom and dado the bottom to fit the inside panels next. That will be in the next post and video.

That's it for now.. Here is today's video:

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Mahogany Curved Blockfront Chest - Finished Pictures

Here are a few pictures of the finished piece.

Itwas made with one two boards.  One for the top and sides and one for the drawer fronts and feet.
The secondary wood is eastern white pine.

The top and sides have book matched figure.

The hand cut dovetails match the pattern of the original.  Each drawer has a working lock.

Hand carved ball & claw feet with the side toes turned back like many Boston pieces.

Close up of the drawer fronts, finished in five coats of blonde shellac and dark wax.

The piece is available, contact me at for details.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Mahogany Curved Blockfront Chest Finishing & Complete Step 9

I have started the finishing of the chest by sanding everything to 180 grit sand paper.  Then I wiped it down with a tack rag to help remove the dust.
I sprayed a 1/2 pound cut of blonde shellac as a sealer.  Then I was ready to spray a mixture of Lockwood dyes for the color.

I am using a HVLP setup from Earlex with a 1mm needle because the liquid dye is a very thin mixture.

After I spray the dye, I let it dry and then rub it out with a gray 3m scotch pad.  If I need to lighten an area, I use a wet rag to lighten the color.

Now I am ready to apply the finish coats of shellac. I am spraying a 2 lb cut of blonde shellac.

I spray 4 coats.  I usually wait a couple of hours between coats.

After applying the 4 coats of shellac I wet sand the surface with 400 grit sand paper and mineral spirits. I wipe off the residue with a rag.

This is how the finish looks after wet sanding.

I spray one more coat of shellac and then I am ready for final rub out. Here is am using 0000 steel wool to get the finish smooth after the last coat of shellac.

The top has been rubbed out with the steel wool and then rubbed out with special dark wax from Minwax. The dark wax adds contrast and does not leave white dry specks of wax.

Here I am applying the wax to the case sides.

I glued on the top with the sliding dovetail and then nailed on four pieces of ship lap pine boards for the back.  I leave a gap  between the boards so they can expand with the climate.

I mounted the hardware as I waxed each of the drawers.  I also installed the drawer stops in the front under the bottoms of the drawers. The stops are 1/16 inch thick.

Looks like I am all done.  Now I have to do some honey do's before I start the next project.

Here is today's video:

Monday, November 6, 2017

Mahogany Curved Blockfront Chest Mounting Pulls & Locks Step 8

Time to mount the hardware before I start finishing.  I ordered the back plates, pulls and escutcheons from Ball & Ball.

Since the drawer fronts are curved the back plates have to be bent to fit the drawer fronts.  I just did this in the last project for the curved blockfront lowboy.

I have a block with a radius smaller than that of the drawer front.  I use a strap clamp to bend it on the block and hold it in place.

 Then I bang it a couple of times with a dead blow hammer to help make it conform to the curve of the block.

The brass springs back and just fits the front curve.  This is a sample curved front I had been using to test the finishing color.

Then I need to bend the bail, I do it the same way with the strap clamp and dead blow hammer.

The holes have to be drilled at an angle, we will get to that in a minute.  But this is how it is suppose to look when mounted correctly.  I chose to mount the hardware in the middle of each drawer.

To drill the holes at the correct angle, I drilled a practise piece and measured the angle with a sliding bevel, then I set my drill press table to that angle. About 10 degrees. I marked where I wanted the holes from the back plate and then drilled them.

Turned the drawer around and drilled the other hole.

Here we have all of the pulls bent and mounted.  The next step is to mount the locks.

The locks I ordered from Horton Brasses.  They have a lock pin at 1 1/8 inch from the top of the lock.  So the escutcheons have to be set 1 1/8 inches from the top to the round part of the key hole. It fits on the smallest drawer.

I use the lock as a template to draw the outline for the deep and outer mortise of the lock.  The pin is offset in the lock, so you have to be careful to set the pin in the middle of the drawer, not the lock body.

I use the lock as a template to mark the mortise that I need on the top as well.

I used a saw to cut the lines for the deep lock mortise.  That is how the old guys did it in the 18th century.  You can't see it very well here, so watch the video for more detail.

Using my dovetail chisel here to chop out the mortise here after sawing the sides of the mortise.
When I get close to the bottom of the mortise, I'll use the router plane to make a nice flat bottom.

Routing the bottom of the mortise flat.

Working on the shallow mortise for the back plate and the top mortise for the lock.

If I did everything correct the lock should fit right in after I drill the hole for lock pin.  Hope it is in the right place.

I traced the key hole on the front from the escutcheon plate and cut it out with a keyhole saw.  Then I used small rasps and files to clean it up.

Fitting the lock into the opening, so far it seems to fit.

Testing to see that the key fits and the lock works.

I match the escutcheon to the hole to check the fit.  Looks good at this point.  Only three more to do.

That's it for is post.  The next will be the finishing post.

Here is today's video: