Saturday, December 11, 2010

Handmade Step Back Cupboard

Each year The Landing holds an event called Early Minnesota Trades when the site invites a number of people to demonstrate authentic 19th century manual trades and crafts. For the past three years my fellow woodworker at The Landing, Kevin Alto, and I have been joined by our fellow members of the Society of American Period Furniture Makers to make a woodworking project.  This year, under the direction of our fearless SAPFM leader Mike Siemsen of the Siemsen School of Woodworking, we built a typical, 19th century step-back cupboard resembling those once found in farmhouses across the country. It proved to be quite an undertaking for a weekend’s worth of work but we are all pleased with the results.

It seems every workshop needs more space to stow tools and help keep workbenches clear.  In our case we needed a place to put wood planes where they are easily accessible and can be viewed by visitors.  We also wanted a place to hide 21st century items like water bottles, nylon bags and our good friend Dave Winter’s Dremel (Dave is the site’s old- time instrument repairman and wood carver).  Our new cupboard fits the bill quite well.

 The cupboard is made of white pine using the usual dovetailed case construction.  The face frame was made using mortise and tenon joints and attached with glue and square pegs.  The shelves are set and nailed in dadoes and the back fitted with  1x4 ship-lap boards. 

Since high-style furniture would be out of place in a workshop, our cupboard is rather plain but does feature a bit of stylish ornament.  It is topped off with a nice crown consisting of a graceful cove and bead.  The bottom is fitted with a dovetailed skirt with an cove planed along its top.  Kevin and I finished our new piece with a couple coats of milk paint.

Like all our projects at the Landing the cupboard was made by hand using tools and 19th century techniques.   This gives our furniture a distinctive look that sets it apart from modern, machine made furniture.

No comments: