Colonial Dry Sink

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Early Colonial Furniture And Houses

The Early American dry sink is one of the most popular antiques for home workshop reproduction. There were a great many variations built through the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, but they all basically served to store buckets of water drawn from the well. The upper "sink" compartment was usually lined with zinc to provide a watertight basin. This particular example is a large or double sink. The paneled ends and doors and the small counter with drawer are design features that help to make this an unusual and rewarding project.

Eastern white pine, which is a delight to work and takes slain beautifully, was used throughout. The back panel and recessed end and door panels were cut from a half sheet of Y** knotty-pine veneered plywood.

Begin construction by edge joining I" boards (%" actual) to make up the 17% x 46)4" bottom, the 1814 x 51" top, the \7% x 4614" shelf, and the 16% x 20" countertop. Use X" dowel pins for strengthening the glue joints, and be sure to allow for trimming and squaring up to finish size. After clamping, set the assembly aside to dry overnight, and begin work on the two framed end panels.

Refer to Figures 1 and 4 to determine the layout of the mortises, panel grooves, and rabbet for a recessed back panel. Bore the mortises by drilling a series of holes Drill to a depth of and clean out waste with a chisel. Tenons are 1%" long and their edges should be rounded to match the mortises.

Be sure to reverse the location of the back rabbet on the rear legs or you will end up with two left or right legs.

Assemble the framed panels with glue and clamps, but do not glue the Vt" plywood panel into its grooves. Lock each mortise and tenon joint with two Yt" dowel pins driven through and trimmed flush on both sides.

Cut and shape two front legs and fasten them to the sides with three counterbored wood screws. The counterbored holes should be 14" in diameter for matching plugs. After the front legs have been attached, join each framed end panel to the bottom with four counterbored 114" screws. The bottom should be flush with the lower edge of each horizontal frame member. Add the top using four counterbored screws at each end. The upper and lower door frames are % x 4114" and \% x 4114" respectively. These are nailed to the top and bottom with finishing nails that are countersunk.

Fasten the shelf to the end frames with four screws in each end, and then add the center door divider, which is screwed to the upper and lower frames and nailed to the shelf. The addition of the Y, x 47¡4 x 24ft" back panel completes the case.

The sink and drawer case are built next, and the assembly is screwed to the edges of the top. Check Figure 1 for screw locations. Figure 5 shows the drawer construction. The drawer front is I" stock, while the sides and back can be cut from either 1" or Vt" pine. The use of 14" stock will result in a lighter and more attractive drawer. When fitting the drawer try to maintain a uniform clearance around the sides and top of the flush drawer front.

The final construction step is the cutting, mortising, and assembly of the two paneled doors. Refer to Figure 6 for the dimensions, and be sure to use a Me" drill to start the mortises. Note that

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unlike the side legs, there's only % of an inch of wood between the mortises and the top and bottom edges of the frame sides. Thus, there is danger of splitting through at this point if you try to square off the mortise ends with a chisel. The %"-deep panel groove will have to be cut to width according to the thickness of the plywood panel. There is some variation in these panels, and you may find that a Yi" panel is actually thick.

Stain the panels before gluing and clamping the doors together—otherwise some shrinkage later on may expose part of the panel edges where the stain did not reach. The completed doors are hung with 2" solid brass butt hinges, mortised into the doors and front legs. Antiqued black butterfly or HL hinges may also be used for a more rustic effect.

Round off the top edges of the sink to simulate years of wear. Plug all screw holes with dowel slock or plugs cut from waste with a ¡4" plug cutter. Fill the countersunk nail holes with fine sawdust mixed with a little glue, or wait unlit the piece is stained and fill the holes with a matching1 wax. Give the entire piece a finish sanding and dusting before staining.

We used one coat of Minwax Special Walnut oil stain, rubbing and loning the stain as necessary to accentuate the sinking grain patterns. The stain coat was allowed to dry overnight and was then followed by a coat of satin-finish ure-thane varnish. When thoroughly dry, this was lightly sanded with 220-grit paper. The entire piece was dusted with a tack cloth before the second coat of varnish was laid on. This was followed by a rubdown with 5/0 steel wool, another dusting, and finally a thin coat of wax buffed to a soft luster.

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Responses

  • dixie
    What were dry sinks used for?
    9 years ago
  • huriyyah
    What year did dry sinks use dowels?
    7 years ago

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