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Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Townsend Kneehole Bureau Carving Newport Shells Step 11

Now that the lower drawers are finished, it is time to work on the large center drawer.
This drawer has three shells on the front.  One shell is concave which is similar to the shell the we carved on the knee hole door. There are two convex shells to the left and right of the center shell.

I left the center drawer unassembled while I am carving the center concave shell.  I'll put it together after I carve the shell.

Here is the pattern for the center concave shell.  It is similar to the shell in the kneehole door but larger.  I blew up the shell pattern to full size and traced it on the drawer front.

Here I have partially carved the concave shell,  Since I have successfully carved the concave shell on the knee hole door, this shell does not seem that difficult.

I have the convex shell pattern from the drawings at full size.  I traced the shape on to a 1 inch thick mahogany blank with carbon paper and cut it out on the bandsaw.

I attached it to a pine board with screws from the back before cutting it out. This way the backer board was the same size as the shell blank.

I also have a plaster cast convex shell from Mary May for me to look at while I carve the convex shell. It is slightly different in size and the center is different but it is a good reference.

I cut a rebate in the front of shell a 1/4 inch deep.  This leaves 3/4 inch for the blocking that needs to match the blocking on the lower drawer fronts.

The plaster cast shows the blocking on the bottom of the shell carving.

I traced the curve of the drawer divider on to the bottom of the shell before mounting it to the board.
This gives me the shape to carve the shell blocking.

I made a cardboard template for the curve on the top of the shell, so I could measure when the round over was correct.

I use a spokeshave to round over the top of the shell using the cardboard template to measure the work.

I retraced the lines on to the shell which have been removed by the round over process.

Here is the result of the first shell that I carved.  It was not good enough to keep, so it made a good practise piece.  There where too many chip outs and the lobes of the shell where not flowing in the right way.  I had to start again.

This is the second shell that I carved. The lobes of the shell are about half done and the carving process is going much better.  So far so good.

Here I am working on an outward lobe of the shell.  I am rounding over the lobe with a 1/2 in #6, first working on the top part of the lobe.  This part is almost all end grain because of the round over.

 I work on each side of the lobe to round it over to the middle.

As I work back to the center, I have to watch the direction of the grain.  One side of the lobe I carve down toward the round over portion.

Depending on the grain, I carve the other side of the lobe upward from the round over. I repeat this until the lobe is completely rounded over

Now I am working on the inward ray right next to the rounded lobe we just did.  I am using a 1/2 #7 here to hollow out the ray. I will use smaller one as I work toward the center.  I also use #8 or #9 gouges to get the right depth in the ray.

Now all of the lobes and rays have been roughly carved.  It is time to flatten the very thin fin along the inward shell rays.

This is a very nervous process for me. These are very thin and can break off very easily which would ruin the shell.

You can see that they go from thin to flat but still at an angle to the round lobe next to it.

This completes the steps that are unique to the convex shell. The smaller inside of the shell uses smaller gouges but is straight forward carving.

I cleaned up the tool marks with files and a little 150 grit sand paper.  This shell is good enough to mount on the drawer front.  I will glue it on and put one screw in it from the back.

One more shell to carve and the drawer construction will be complete.

Next I will mount the hardware.

Here is today's video:


  1. Hola algun tipo de libro donde se pueda ver el sistema construtivo de este tipo de muebles clasicos, gracias.

  2. Este es un buen libro sobre la construcción de muebles del siglo XVIII por Jeffrey P. Greene