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Greene and Greene Nightstand
Oriental Elements Make for Bedside Elegance by Thomas Starbuck Stockton
I grew up surrounded by Japanese and Korean furniture, so the first pieces I built drew upon Eastern influences. After discovering the Orientally inspired work of Charles and Henry Greene (see sidebar, opposite page), 1 was inspired to design and build this koa nightstand. It incorporates signa ture Greene and Greene elements such as stepped "cloud lift" motifs, square ebony pegs and a top with breadboard ends. It's a fairly small piece, but you could make it larger. Just keep the same proportions.
The nightstand is a study in contrasts—of surfaces, textures and materi als. The sides and back are recessed from the legs while the doors and drawer front are flush. Straight-grained frames surround figured, bookmatchcd panels. The gently sloping grain of the legs gives them a splayed appearance. The ebony handles wrapped with silver wire lend a touch of elegance.
Most of the information you'll need to make this nightstand appears in Figs. 1 and 2. Here are some tips to make the construction easier:
After dimensioning the parts, cut all of the carcase joints except the upper front rail dovetails. The rails are joined to the legs with "floating" tenons glued into matching mortises, but you could use standard mortise-and-tenon construction. I cut the mortises with a Multi-Router (see photo, opposite page) but you could jig up to rout them or drill and chisel them out.
I routed the stopped panel grooves in the legs but dadoed the grooves in the rails and center stiles on the tablesaw. I veneered the MDF bottom and shelf with koa before dadoing the mating grooves in the lower rails. Then 1 used these grooves to lay out the notches in the legs. (See Fig. 1.)
To make my loose tenons, I ripped the tenon stock in lengths, planed it to thickness, and then rounded over the edges with a router before cutting the tenons to length. To ease joint alignment, make your tenons Vl6 in. narrower than the lengths of your mortises. Note that you will also need to miter the ends of the tenons that meet inside the legs.
Lay out the cloud lift details on the rails as shown in Fig. 2. I bandsawed the shapes, then spindle-sanded them. I find this as fast and accurate as template routing for one-off work.
Dry assemble the case to check all the joint fits. While the case is clamped up, mark the shoulders on the ends of the center stiles and the upper front rail. Cut the dovetails on the rail, then use these to lay out the dovetail sockets on the top of the legs. This is also the time to fit the drawer runners and kickers.
After disassembling the case, cut the dovetail sockets in the legs and the hinge mortises in the rails. Drill the shelf support holes in the legs.
Next, mortise the legs for the decorative square pegs. Since I don't have a hollow-chisel mortising attachment for
Interpreting a tradition. Accented joinery, curved "cloud-lift" frame rails and handmade handles are details inspired by the work of turn-of-the-century architects Charles and Henry Greene.
GREENE & GREENE: A STYLE IS BORN
by Susannah Hogendorn my drill press, I used a hybrid method: I drilled a '/64-in.-undersized hole on the drill press, then chopped the mortise with a hollow chisel sold for mortiser attachments (available from Grizzly Imports, Box 2069, Bcllingham, WA 98227, 800-541-5537).
After sanding everything to 220 grit, glue the side frame-and-panel assemblies, lining up the grooves in the bottom rails with the notches in the legs. When the glue dries, glue up the rest of the case, including the drawer runners and kickers. I pinned the panels in the centers of their frames from the inside with bamboo skewers from the grocery store. To check the case for square, I measured across the diagonals with sticks.
After dimensioning the top pieces to size, slot the center panel and breadboard ends for the splines (see Fig. 1) with a slot-cutting router bit. Stop the grooves in the breadboard ends before breaking through the back ends. The backboard will hide the rear of the center panel slot.
Note the rectangular pegs on the breadboard ends. I first routed the mortises for the pegs on my router table. Then 1 cut the screw slots in the bot-
"Multi-Routed" mortises. The author cuts mortises using a Multi-Router, a machine that lets you rout slots in wood precisely.
toms of the mortises by drilling overlapping holes. I finished up with a rat-tail file. (See Fig. 4.)
After making the splines, I scrcwed the breadboard ends to the center panel, offsetting them *Vl6 in. at the front. Next, 1 sanded the joints flush with 120-grit sandpaper. Then I disassembled the pieces and finished sanding them, casing the edges of the breadboard-end joints slightly to create a nice shadow line— another Greene and Greene touch.
Now, reassemble the pieces without glue and rout the slots for the ebony splines in the front edge (sec Fig. 4) using clampcd-on scrap pieces as a bearing surface for the router base. Note that the slots arc deeper in the breadboard ends so the center panel can shrink in width without prying out the splines.
The Greene and Greene style originated in Pasadena, CA, where Charles and Henry Greene practiced architecture in the first two decades of this century. But the brothers' furniture is truly international in flavor, combining design elements from East and West.
The Greenes' design development took a major step forward in 1901 when they first saw Gustav Stickley's magazine. The Craftsman. The Greenes were inspired by the clean lines of Stickley's work, and they were eager to join in the growing American branch of the English Arts & Crafts movement. Arts & Crafts philosophy demanded an all-inclusive design method: Architects created not just houses, but everything from landscapes to light fixtures. At first the Greenes furnished clients' houses with Stickley-designed pieces. But soon they were designing their own, using traditional Arts & Crafts elements such as square pegs and protruding tenons.
By 1903, Charles Greene's interest in Chinese and Japanese design began to show in his work in the form of fluid, rounded edges and nature themes. The "cloud lift" motif (see Fig. 2) emerged as gently stepped rails in chair backs. Some pieces sported inlaid trees and flowers of wood, gems and mother-of-pearl.
The Greenes' prodigious output was made possible by their association with another pair of brothers—John and Peter Hall—who led the team of mostly Swedish craftsmen that actually produced the furniture. The Halls shared the Greenes' design vision and strove to reproduce it faithfully.
Frank Lloyd Wright once asked Charles Greene, "How do you do it?" Modern-day admirers still ask themselves the same question.
SUSANNAH HOGENDORN is copy editor of AW.
Integrated elements. This rocking chair combines pegged through tenons, Oriental "cloud lifts" on the arms, and ebony splines.
FIG. 1: NIGHTSTAND
Fit splines between screws,
TOP PANEL Vax 135/16 X 14
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There are a lot of things that either needs to be repaired, or put together when youre a homeowner. If youre a new homeowner, and have just gotten out of apartment style living, you might want to take this list with you to the hardware store. From remolding jobs to putting together furniture you can use these 5 power tools to get your stuff together. Dont forget too that youll need a few extra tools for other jobs around the house.