Crabtree Woodworks

Custom Wood Furniture / handmade in Wichita, Kansas

Construction techniques (joinery) 18th century inspired sewing chest out of tiger maple


Wood case furniture must be built to stand the test of time. If assembled correctly furniture will maintain its integrity for centuries. Many fine examples of early 18th century American and even older case furniture can be found today. Clicking on the crabtree woodworks logo will take you back to home page. Most pictures can be enlarged by clicking on them.

https://crabtreewoodworks.wordpress.com/2012/05/08/i-got-to-see-the-work-of-the-american-master-cabinet-maker-john-townsend/?preview=true&preview_id=699&preview_nonce=57e564217e
Whenever I walk through a furniture store, I am amazed. With all the technology and machinery we have today, we seldom create furniture that can match the quality of yesterday. Keep in mind, two centuries ago furniture makers used almost only hand tools. They worked in poorly equipped shops compared to today’s standards, yet they produced masterpieces that we now cherish and deem priceless in our museums.

What makes this “old” furniture so special?  It was the skill of the “artist”.

” He who works with his hands is a laborer.

He who works with his hands and his head is a craftsman.

He who works with his hands and his head and his heart is an artist.”

-Francis of Assisi

The images below reveal examples of joinery I integrate in every piece I make.

case showing dovetail joinery. Drawer dividers are mortise and tenon joined

Mortise and tenon joinery

The decorative molding covers the dovetail joinery used to construct the case. The customer asked that the dovetail be seen on the front of the drawer.

Finished piece , shown with carved Newport shell on face

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3 comments on “Construction techniques (joinery) 18th century inspired sewing chest out of tiger maple

  1. mike
    August 13, 2011

    I have heard the old saying, the customer is always right. Well, in this case they weren’t. Did you try and talk them out of their request? IMHO, making the drawers like that ruined an otherwise very nice piece.

    • Crabtree Woodworks
      August 13, 2011

      The person who commissioned this piece is very fond of the look of through dovetails much like some blanket chests that visually celebrate showing off the joinery . Take the dovetail away from the blanket chest, all that’s left is a boring box. Being able to see the dovetail in this fashion was very important to her while we were designing . This chest is now full of spools of thread, ribbons and the tools of a seamstress. The chest is unique it is not “ruined” and I am sorry to disagree with you but, the customer is always right. One of my other customers also liked the look and had me make the petite open face curio drawers in this fashion. I guess both pieces should be thrown on the bonfire(LOL). From a structural standpoint, the joint is backwards, to compensate for this, dowel rod is also sleeved through the joint for added protection from separating. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder my friend.
      Thanks for your comment, Mark C.

  2. Pingback: I got to see the work of the American Master cabinet maker John Townsend « Crabtree Woodworks

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