with a stylized gink go-leaf shape for the door handles. It looked great there, but it didn't work as a drawer pull—it wasn't enough foi thi hu£e evpans 1 drawer face.

I mocked up longer pulls so thev would be more prominent, I kept playing with the proportions of the pulls until they felt right both visualh and in nu hands. I settled m long mahogany pulls with a pattern of ebonv inlav in them ,see the drawing above . l or the door handles. I shortened the pulls and included one square of ebonv. The undersides ol the pulls are slightly cosed to prwidc a better grip.

Dour I u lies placed .. -m to each other as possiblt. centered in the width of each top door rail. Locating the drawer pulls rook a bit more head scratching. Both pulls and ml.n increase in length from top to bottom. I wanted them to line up on a diagonal, with each of the pulls centered on the width of the drawer, but when I tried that, it just didn't look right. I ended up keeping the top two pulls centered in the drawer fact s, but I positioned the bottom pull nearh I in. above center.

Carving the leaves

A GUST OF WIND SENDS THE LEAVES FLYING. The author sought a natural looking display of leaves blowing across the from of the sideboard. He taped real leaves on the doors as he worked toward a final design.

TRACE. THEN CUT. The author transfers a drawing to cardboard with carbon paper (left). Patterns are used to trace leaves on the inlay before they are cut (above).

SHAPE THE LEAVES. AND BEVEL THEIR EDGES. A spindle sander does the job quickly (left), but the author needs a knife to get into tight corners. He schbes a leaf on a door (above).

(confirmed on p. 94

THE ILLUSION OF DEPTH. With just ' m. of leaf above the surface of the door, every cut counts when carving. Deeply mased cuts where the leaves fold or curl create shado w nnes that suggest depth. Gentle, flowing curves give the leaves an organic feel. ■

DETAIL IS CARVED IN. The author creates depth and motion in the leaves through his use of line and texture.

THE ILLUSION OF DEPTH. With just ' m. of leaf above the surface of the door, every cut counts when carving. Deeply mased cuts where the leaves fold or curl create shado w nnes that suggest depth. Gentle, flowing curves give the leaves an organic feel. ■

Ginkgo Leaves Swf pt by the Wind

I 'its ml iv work w.is thi dt i u ! w is most excited about. It was a charv. to break away from the Greene and Greeni mold. What I hoped to create was a natural-looking display' of ginkgo leaves, as tf a gust of wind i1 id jusi 'il iun i small pi! the front of the sideboard.

I got the patterns lor mi carved leaves from real ginkgo leaves i'd collected like the one on the facing page ). I began by drawing these shapes until I felt I had a sense of what the leaf looked like, whether Hat or curled, falling or tumbling in a breeze. Because the leaves were brittle. I also made up some cardboard versions, which I folded and rolled to mimic real leaves. Then I started to draw various leal shapes on large sheets of brown paper where I had drawn the outline of the doors.

When I liked a leaf. I traced its shape onto cardboard using carbon paper and a penal and ait out the pattern see the far left photo on the facing page . I hen I play ed with the position of j. ich leal. A yellow marking pen brightened thi cardboard enough to give it some life. I began designing with the leaf patterns by applying jjiem to the real doors with doublt -faced tape.

Inlay is sawn, shaped and beveled I he yvood I chose for the inlay was yellow heart. This South American wood is valued for its consistent yellow color and is often used in parquet flooring and. surprisingly, fabric dyt. Ii was pi rfect for the tutu v» ¡1-m of my ginkgo leaves.

I used quartersawn material to minimize wo»>d nunemenr and rcsaw pit,i s in. thick. The leaf pattern was marked on the yellow heart so the grain followed the direction ol the stem. This way. I wouldn't have to worry* about a stem breaking off because of short grain.

I cut the leaves on a handsaw and scroll-viw. ihen shaped and I .hghth using a sanding drum see tht top right and bottom left photos on the facing page . Anv edges I couldn't reach with the sanding drum were shaped and beveled w ith a knife.

Recess for Inlay Is Routed, then Refined with Carving Tools

The next step was to transfer the leaf patterns to the door. I placed each piece ol inlay on the door in position, marking its shape with a scratch awl and with a thin knife in very tight spots see the bottom right photo on p. 92 . Accuracy at this point is critical. A slip of the knife can create nastv marks on thi do surlace. and a slip of the inlay will result in an inaccurate pattern that's nearly impossible to fix. lake your time, keep a firm gnp on the inlay and make sure die entire perimeter of the leaf is marked before you lift it oil the door. I darkened the incised line with a soft pencil—it's much easier to see than a knife Im> yi hen vouVi t, nit u

To create the recess, I used a X^in.-dia. straight bit in a fixed-base router and set its depth of cut at in. I attached spacer strips to the door with double-faced tape to bring the router base up to the level of the door rails. Then, after a deep breath. I began routing out the inlay pattern see the top left photo on p. 94 . I started at the center of each pattern and gradually worked my way out to the edges. Because the bit pulls itself into the cut when routing clockw ise, I cut in the opposite direction to maintain control.

For the leaf stems, I used a - -in.-dia. straight bit: then I switched to a shopmade,

-in.-wide chisel. I put \ hollow grind on its edge, honed it razor sharp and used it to finish cutting the stem recesses to depth.

After routing. I trimmed the walls of each recess with carving tools, trying to keep them straight or just slightly undercut see the top right photo on p. 94 .

Then I began fitting each leaf. 1 used carving tools and a sanding drum. I checked the fit often—until the leaf fit almost all the way down into its ground. If a leaf sticks in its recess, lever it out with the edge of a #1 gouge or a skew chisel.

When I was comfortable with the fit of a leaf, I spread a little glue in the recess, pressed the leaf into place and then tapped it so it was well-seated sec the center photo on p. 94 . Then I pur a caul over the leaf

Building an Arts-and-Crafts sideboard and another under the door and clamped (he inlay until it would go no farther. There was a considerable amount of glue squeeze-out. so I pulled mv clamps after three hours and cleaned up the excess.

When the glue had cured. I carved in the w ind. Here was a chance to plav with the shape and texture. I spent about an hour working on each leaf with #3 and #5 gouges, carving in the gentle undulations and curves that you see in falling leaves-Then I lightly trimmed each leaf edge with a #1 skew chisel to make them friendly to the touch. Do this with a carving tool, not sandpaper. Sandpaper will smear the details and leave a soft, unsatisfying edge. After each leaf had been carved. I burnished its surface with a piece of burlap.

Finishing the Sideboard: Shellac Inside, Varnish Outside

For all the interior surfaces of this cabinet, I used a I i-lb. cut of dewaxed super blond shellac (a proportion of IK lb. of shellac flakes to a gallon of denatured alcohol) that I mixed myself. I added a few drops of jasmine oil available in many health-food stores) to this mixture to give it a pleasant scent. This finish is easy to apply, dries quickly and has a much nicer aroma than lacquer, varnish or oil. The drawers were shellacked inside and out except for their faces. I also waxed the drawer sides and web frames after the shellac had dried.

I or the exterior of the sideboard. I used a product called ProFin manufactured by Daly's for a distributor, call 800-735-7019 . It's a wiping varnish that's easy to apply, and it gives a lustrous finish in three coats. I used the gloss version. I tried to make sure that all the dust in my shop had settled before applvmg the final coat. 1 wanted to avoid having to rub out that last coat with anything but a polishing cloth.

THE CARCASE. On pp. 68-77, Gary Rogowski described the construction of this sideboard's carcase, including its two interior divider panels and the back.

DRAWERS AND DOORS. Final carcase glue-ups, construction of the web frames, and drawers and doors are described on pp. 78-85.

THE FINISHED PIECE. The sideboard is complete. Gary and Buck get ready to head home after finishing another successful project. ■


A Blanket Chest with Legs have always liked designing and making sideboards, chests of drawers and blanket chests. It is very satisfying to make a basic box that will contain and store the tilings that we use in our everyday lives. And when it works, the result can be as beautiful as it is useful. It's even more satisfying when you can transform a basic box into something with depth, dimension and visual power.

I he blanket chest I designed and made for a family in New Hampshire is a piece of furniture that could have been just another unremarkable dovetailed box, but it is redeemed by frame-and-panel construction that allows for greater play with forms and

materials. It pleases me to think that many years from now, someone will open this chest on a snowy December night, pull out a down comforter as proof against the cold, and think, "What a beautiful chest."

Legs Double As Stiles

A chest made of four solid slabs dovetailed together looks too heavy and traditional for my taste, and I can assemble frames and panels much more quickly than I can cut long rows of dovetails. Frame-and-panel construction has more going for it than lightness and economy of labor: It adds depth and shadow lines to the look of a piece, and it allows the use of contrasting wood—something you can't do with mitered or dovetailed chests made only from flat panels.

My client wanted a fresh design that incorporated elements of two of my previous frame-and-panel chests. In a departure from one of the older designs. I decided to eliminate the stiles of the frame-and-panel sides and join the top and bottom rails directly to the legs so that the legs themselves serve as stiles ( see the drawing on p. 99). This legs-as-stiles approach, which I had first tried nine years ago on a cabinet, allows for simplified construction and a lighter look than full frame-and-panel sides attached to separate legs. (Squinting at the blanket chest, you can almost imagine away the light-colored panels, leaving behind an open frame of thin, table-like legs and rails.j A gentle curve m the bottom rail helps the legs visually lift the chest off the floor.

The frames are made of cherry and the panels are of curly maple. The legs are made from 8/4 lumber, lightened and made more interesting by chamfering on all four sides. Fo add even more visual character and a form of decorative detail, I brought tire double tenons of the front and rear rails through and let them stand % in. proud of the legs. And to transform the top from a typical rectangular shape into a more pleasing and interesting form, I decided to curve the ends of the lid, carrying through the motif of the curved bottom rails.

Mortise-and-Tenon Joints Hold the Panels Together

Mortise-and-tenon joints, in one form or another, are the basis for all good furniture construction, and tins blanket chest is no exception. As in a post-and-beam house or a post-and-rail fence, mortise-and-tenon joints draw horizontal and vertical pieces of furniture together simply and rigidly. Used with frame-and-panel construction, these joints make furniture that accommodates seasonal changes in the wood better than any other method.

The architect Louis Kahn said that the joint was the beginning of all ornament, and this holds true for the wedged, double through-tenons on my blanket chest. I worried that through-tenons would detract from the lines of the legs, but now that I've done them, I'd do them again. Details like these through-tenons add mystery because people at first wonder why they're there, and yet they take away mystery because they ultimately reveal the nature of the construction. I've noticed at shows that people make a beeline to just such details.

Careful Preparation Pays Dividends during Mortising

I always sticker more wood to acclimate in my shop than I think I'll need for a project, and I take a few shavings from each board with a block plane to give me a clearer view of its grain and color. For the legs, I wanted straight grain—nothing wild—so that no one leg would detract from the others. I also wanted consistency in the grain of the rails so that the figured curly maple would stand out. To match the grain on the top and bottom rails of a given side, I chose o boards wider than 8 in., wide enough that I could rip them into a 3-in. top rail and a 3/2-in. bottom rail. Because my design called for relatively narrow rails, I felt I could use flatsawn cherry instead of more expensive quartersawn cherry, Flatsawn lumber will expand and contract more than quartersawn lumber. But with a narrow rail, the difference will be negligible.

I began by roughing out the four legs. I always cut pieces to length oversized by a few inches. I keep an eye out for end-checking and surface defects and plan my cuts around them. I£ when I am laying out the pieces, it looks as though one might have a streak of sapwood showing, then I'll rough out five legs. And I always mill a few test pieces. Using test pieces to set up joinery cuts helps ensure my good pieces will be right on. In making any piece of furniture, my time and labor far outweigh the cost of using a few extra inches of wood here and there. This is not a place to be stingy.

' I chose to make all the mortises and tenons % in. thick, with the tenons on the bottom rail a little wider than those on the top rail. The side rails and the frame for the top are put together with blind, not through-tenons. After I determined their locations, I laid out the mortises and tenons on the legs and rails with a marking gauge and a very sharp pencil,

There are many ways to cut mortises, ranging from using hollow-chisel machines and plunge routers with spiral end mills to chopping them out by hand the old-fashioned way. I use an Italian-made slot-mortising machine to cut morrises in my shop. The machine can use either a Clico slot-mortise miller bit (available from Garrett Wade; 800-221-2942) or a spiral end mill (available from Woodcraft Supply; 800-225-1153). A slot-mortising machine is expensive, but it's extremely accurate once you've set it up, and it's a pleasure to use. I've never understood why the Taiwanese haven't made a less expensive one.

A slot morriser leaves a mortise with rounded ends. I prefer the look of a squared tenon in an exposed through-mortise joint, so on the blanket chest legs, I squared up the mortises by hand with a bench chisel. Working on the outside face of the leg, I made starter cuts on the sides of the rounded mortise and then cut out the waste at the end. The English would have cut a tapered mortise to accept the flared shape of a wedged tenon. I didn't make a big deal of it, but I did cut a little heavy on the end line and chiseled a slight taper.

When I cut the mortises, I also used my slot mortiser to cut the grooves that receive the maple panels. Because both the mortises and grooves are centered on the legs, I had only to change the bit. You could also use a router or a dado blade on the tables aw to cut the grooves.

For cutting tenons, I prefer a tablesaw. I made the shoulder cuts first, using a tenon jig that safely secured the rails perpendicular to the table. As always when cutting tenons, I used a test piece to check the settings of the tablesaw. I removed the waste between the double tenons with a bandsaw, and cut slots for the wedges two-thirds through the tenons with a backsaw.

Once all the mortise-and-tenon joinery was cut, I dry-fit each tenon to its own designated mortise. I strive for an exact fit right off the machine. If I'm going to use machines, I insist 011 obtaining a high degree of accuracy. I've put a lot of time into adjusting and keeping my saws, jointer and planer tuned up, Those machines and my trifocals ensure die precision I've grown to expect.

A Cove Bit Shapes the Panels

I feel as though we've become anesthetized to frame-and-panel construction because of kitchen cabinetry, much of which has been derivative of traditional furniture. I try not to make furniture that looks like a kitchen cabinet. So I milled the five curly maple panels that make up the sides and the top of the blanket chest from solid stock glued together wi tit butt joints at the seams. I raised the panels by cutting a cove around the perimeter on the outside surface, allowing for a very narrow reveal between the frame pieces and the cove.

For the cove cut, I used a router table with a standard high-speed-steel, %-in. cove bit. To increase die height of the cove, I stood the panels on end, against the fence, and ran them vertically through the router. This way, I could make use of the %-m. height of die cove bit rather than its smaller radius.

The Action Is in the Corners

Becausc the legs serve as the stiles of the frame-and-panel sides, they are mortised for the rail tenons as well as grooved for the panel tongues. Both the mortises and grooves are centered on the inside faces of the leg, so layout is straightforward.

Top side rail tenon, 3/s in. thick f x 2V4 in. wide x 1 in. long

Front rail

Leg, I3/» in. x 2 Va in. x 233/i6 in., chamfered 45

Groove 'or panel tongue Vie in. wide x 3/s in. deep

Panel tongue, Vis in. thick (planed to fit) x 5/ie in, long

Bottom front and rear rail tenon, 3/a in. thick x 1V8 in wide x l7/s In. iong

Bottom side rail tenon 3/s in. thick x 2V4 In. wide x 1 in. long

Frame-and-Panel Blanket Chest

The frame-and-panel sides of this chest are a departure from the solid sides and dovetailed corners of a traditional chest. Unlike solid box construction, frame-and-panel construction creates interesting shadow lines and allows for the use of contrasting woods.

233/i6 in.

233/i6 in.

227/b in

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