End Grain Veneer, Veneering Differently.

End grain veneering mustn’t be all common. I have only seen two examples and those two sightings were a year apart. And it looks exactly like this:

End grain veneered dresser.

End grain veneered dresser.

The drawer front of an end grain veneered dresser.

The drawer front of an end grain veneered dresser.

There is an online article about making end grain drawer fronts by Matt Kenney of Fine Woodworking HERE.

Another use of end grain is a style of decoration called oystering or oyster veneering. Oystering uses slices of tree branches to create patterns. This is believed to have developed by the English in the mid 17th century. And this an interesting example:

An oytered dresser.

An oystered dresser.

A close up of the oystered dresser.

A close up of the oystered dresser.

Another view.

Another view.

A view of the top of an oystered dresser.

A view of the top of an oystered dresser.

THIS is a link to a Wikipedia article (fragment) on oystering. The article references a 2004 Fine Woodworking article by Silas Kopf titled Making Oysters for Veneering. I haven’t found it online so you might have to go to the DVD. Or a library. Or your woodworking friend. You know, the hoarder.

Things being what they are, I think I should start befriending some members of the Fine Woodworking staff.

Matt, call me…

I Don’t Think the Plastic Shrink Wrap is Purely Decorative.

Just before going to bed a few nights back, I saw that a respectable auction house in Wilson, NC was having their annual post-Thanksgiving auction, always special. Previews were running all week. I could preview the auction and visit my favorite four-acre antiques dealer and the high-end dealer right across the street. And maybe a few along the way.

Saturday morning I went on-line to see if the preview started on Saturday by any chance. I should never make plans based on something I read right before going to bed. The auction was pre-Thanksgiving and started in a half hour. It’s a 90 minute drive east and taking pictures once an auction starts is always awkward.

Since my chores were done and I was planning a road trip anyway, I went looking for another auction to visit. Nothing looked promising until I saw a warehouse clearance auction in Greensboro, 45 minutes west of me. It looked interesting but it is often hard to tell much from 100 pixel square images. I packed up my iPhone and hit the road.

The address was a large mill complex that is in the midst of preservation and redevelopment. The Revolution Mill is the 630,000 square foot former Cone Mills textile plant that had seen better days. The auction was in a smaller building away from the main 500,000 sq. ft. structure. The auctioneer had lost his lease and in the process of vacating the premises.

The venue:

It's big, dark and cold. Bathrooms worked, though.

It’s big, dark and cold. Bathrooms worked, though.

It was a big, dark, cold building with an uneven/rotting floor. Expected loud and annoying, aging transformer hum. Discarded latex gloves around and a few other unsavory things I choose to forget. I was trying to get a feel for the inventory but it was hard. Often you can get a feel or some vibe from the items but this one was all over the place. I just gave up try to understand it and just decided to go with the flow. An odd collection of left-overs and unloved curiosities. It is what it is.

This is the title piece, I don’t think the plastic shrink wrap is purely decorative:

It's structural. Cut the plastic and run.

It’s structural. Cut the plastic and run.

Worse from the back.

Worse from the back.

There was this really unique, painted chest:

Ain't seen another one like it.

Ain’t seen another one like it.

And a large armoire:

Large armoire.

Large armoire.

What makes it interesting is the wooden pintle hinges top and bottom on the doors:

A wooden hinge, how unique.

A wooden hinge, how unique.

The were many shipping crates:

Shipping crate.

Shipping crate.

With sliding dovetail battens:

A dovetail and it slides.

A dovetail and it slides.

And last but not least, the final preview and my first PG image ever:

Click to see an close up of the display.

Click to see an close up of the display.

Once I got into the right frame of mind, it really was a wondrous and eclectic collection. Nothing there I wanted to own but I am certainly glad I went.

I am a better man for it.

Maybe.

Click HERE to be taken to Oz.

Wooton-esque but Not Wooton

I know I said the next blog would be about tables but it’s not. Seems I need to get one more picture that I didn’t have in my extensive inventory. And I looked. Twice. I do use labels and tags but I never thought this was a label or tag I would need. I was wrong. Just this once.

Back in late October, I wrote about William S. Wooton and his desk company. (You can read it HERE.) I did find another picture of an Ordinary Grade desk:

Found this one near Des Moines on my way to HandWorks 2013 in Amana, Iowa.

Found this one near Des Moines on my way to HandWorks 2013 in Amana, Iowa.

I visited an antiques shop in Greensboro, NC a while back and found this monster:

It be big. And fairly cheap.

It be big. And fairly cheap.

Closed it would look something like this:

I could only close half. Too much stuff to close the other wing.

I could only close half. Too much stuff to close the other wing.

It is much newer than most Wooton desks and not nearly as well made. You might be able to see it in this picture:

Lots of boxes.

Lots of boxes. Not much for grain matching.

Wings lift off:

Pintle hinge. Screws not clocked.

Pintle hinge. Screws not clocked.

And it’s made by:

lllll

Grand Rapids Joint Company?

Who knew? If you know anything about them, please share.

Very Pretty, What is it?

While passing through Nashville last year, I stopped in a very nice antiques shop, saw the following and was stumped:

Very nice, but what is it?

Very nice, but what is it?

It is a form I hadn’t seen before. Obviously factory made and not a one-off. Too heavy for a quilt rack or screen. I poked at it a bit and discovered the panels on either side swung up. It seems to be a drop leaf table of a unique type.

From below you see the works:

Something

The view from below.

It is a two-legged trestle with a central spine from which the two drop leafs are hung. Also hanging from the spine are support wings.

Wings supporting the drop leaf.

Wings supporting the drop leaf.

Wings supporting the drop leafs catch the battens that keep the leafs apart when lowered.

An elegant design with some elegant engineering. The finish at first made me think of the late lamented(-able) Bombay Company but it is much, much better than that.

I wasn’t smart enough to take a picture of it opened but it was larger, rectangular and brown.

Tomorrow, more different tables.

 

Variations on a Theme

Thomas Day (c. 1801 – 1861) was a free black American furniture designer and cabinetmaker in Caswell County, North Carolina. Day’s furniture-making business became one of the largest of its kind in North Carolina, employing at one point up to twelve workers, and distributing furniture to wealthier customers throughout the state. Much of Day’s furniture was produced for prominent political leaders, the state government, and the University of North Carolina.

And HERE is a link to the Wikipedia article from which I borrowed the above paragraph.

I became aware of Thomas Day from my friend Jerome Bias. I met Jerome during the first year of Roy Underhill’s Woodwight’s School in Pittsboro, NC. That first year, Roy held Wednesday night seminars on various hand tool topics. Jerome saw me struggling with a card scraper and came over to bail me out. A friendship began that night.

On occasion, we will go to an auction preview, antiques show or museum exhibit. Often these events are related to Thomas Day. I have developed a deep appreciation for Mr. Day’s work and his incredible story.

On with the blog.

This is about variations on a design for a dresser from one shop. It may contain too many pictures  but I think it’s worth it.

I saw this first one at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond:

Click to see the description.

Click to see the museum’s description.

And here is another view:

They wouldn't let me open the drawers and take pictures of the dovetails.

They wouldn’t let me open the drawers and take pictures of the dovetails.

Then last December, the local auction house had its quarterly catalog sale, always interesting. They were featuring several pieces of Thomas Day furniture. Among these were two dressers.

This one:

The red one.

The red one.

And this one:

Not so red. The original color of either is unknown. Both might have been refinished.

Not so red. The original color of either is unknown. Both have probably been refinished.

They are very similar yet very different.We can examine the variation in two similar pieces from the same shop. Although it was Thomas Day’s shop, it is unlikely he built much furniture as the shop grew. He had staff, paid and unpaid. These pieces might have been made years apart and by different craftsmen from changing designs of the day.

Look at the gallery drawers (The red one is always first):

Rabbeted drawer, rabbet to the outside of the drawer.

Rabbeted drawer, rabbet to the outside of the drawer. Complex knob.

Half sliding dovetail to the inside of the drawers. Simple knob.

Half sliding dovetail to the inside of the drawers. Simple knob. Thicker walls.

The other end of drawers, dovetailed.

Two thin pins.

Two thin pins. Overcut slightly.

Two less thin pins.

Two less thin pins.

Column capitals and drawers.

Red.

More elaborate.

Smaller and less elaborate.

Shorted column. Capital is smaller and scrolled.

Feet.

Interesting.

Interesting.

Diferent.

Different.

And another Day dresser from the auction that is different than the Museum dresser and the above auction dressers. Yet similar:

A cousin, somewhere between the three.

A distant cousin.

And the last Thomas Day dresser, from MESDA, the Museum of Southern Decorative Arts at Old Salem in Winston Salem, NC:

That's Mr. Bias's image in the mirror. Little dark for this art shot.

That’s Mr. Bias’s image in the mirror. The gallery was a little dark for this art shot.

And we close with my own private Thomas Day game table:

A Day piece I hope.

A Day piece I hope.

This table became available and choosing to believe it was genuine, I bought. Jerome was skeptical and gave it a 40% chance of being the real thing. Until we visited a dealer that had a large number of the Day pieces and we saw this one:

Tight spaces and I apparently I forgot how to use my camera. But the similarities are there.

Tight spaces and I apparently I forgot how to use my camera. But the similarities are there.

Without knowing the detailed provenance of a piece, it’s difficult to definitely say where things are from. Designs are stolen. Craftsmen moved on taking skill and ideas with them. Customers want what they have seen and coveted. I choose to believe it is a Day piece.

Jerome wrote an article about Thomas Day for Popular Woodworking that you can read HERE, I hope. It is well worth the read.

To Dovetail or not to Dovetail -

that is the question I wish to cover here tonight.

It is a well guarded secret that I have a fascination with dovetails. Not enough to measure and analyze them but enough to take a picture of everyone I see. Part of the continuing fascination is the amount of “common knowledge” out there that is not borne out by the historical record. I am hear to say that there are other accepted methods of drawer construction. But you really can use dovetails if you want to.

I had an earlier blog about our friend, The Knapp Joint.

The Pin & Cove, Pin & Scallop, Half Moon, or Knapp Joint.

The Pin & Cove, Pin & Scallop, Half Moon, or Knapp Joint.

Let’s say that you have a drawer front that extends beyond the drawer box to hide some structural details.

(Note: Click on the below joints to see their parent pieces of furniture)

Looks like a rabbet into a dado.

Looks like a rabbet into a dado.

Actually, it is a sliding half dovetail. Other end of the drawer is conventionally dovetailed.

Conventional but not pretty.

Conventional but not pretty.

Or a drawer front with dimensional profile.

The extended drawer front also hides structural parts.

The extended drawer front also hides structural parts.

Again the sliding half dovetail. A rabbet would also work.

But some work hard and do the same. Like this drawer. Offset to allow for two improbable drawers.

Dovetails the hard way.

Dovetails the hard way.

In the above instance, the builder removed half the thickness of the drawer front and cut a half blind dovetail into the edge. Kindly ignore the nail.

Here’s another example of a reduction on a complex shape.

It's French. They do things differently.

It’s French. They do things differently.

This one is unremarkable but I like it.

A very nicely dovetailed drawer.

A very nicely dovetailed drawer.

The Shenandoah Tool Works Crab Mallet

My wife saw that a local fish monger had a sale on crab legs. We knew these wouldn’t be the finest crab legs but the price was right and it was something different.

She was almost done cooking dinner she realized we don’t own any crab mallets or crackers. Although she was born and bred in Baltimore, she had never had the need to purchase crab utensils.

Being male, I headed to the shop to look for alternatives. After rummaging around for a bit, I came up with what I believed were workable alternatives. I found  Shenandoah Tool Works, 1 lb. 9.75 oz. mallet and a pair of Craftsman WF B S 45381, slip joint crab crackers.

Off label uses of shop tools.

Off label uses of shop tools.

They worked. We ate. Life is good.

I did degrease, clean and sanitize them before using them in the kitchen And before returning them to the shop…

These Are Different.

The Wooton Rotary Desk was from a large catalog auction from December of 2013. I’ve been avoiding this auction because I took pictures over two visits and shot out of sequence due to the sizable crowds at the previews. As time passed, it got harder to remember what went with which and who’s on first. I finally just screwed up my courage and I think I have it mostly sorted out. And if I’m wrong, who’s to know?

There were lots of unique pieces at this auction. I thought I would share three items that I found particularly interesting. We will start with near normal and go on from there.

This first one is a dresser with a door:

There is a door between the drawers.

There is a door between the drawers.

And behind the door is drawers.

And behind the door is drawers.

The drawers are deeply recessed leading me to wonder is these drawers were a “secret compartment” and there had been a removable drawer unit in front of it.

We will never know…

Next up is a server. A server with two horizontal tambour doors.

Two tambour covered compartments. Or are they?

Two tambour covered compartments. Or are they?

The right compartment is for bottle storage.

A cellarette.

A cellarette.

But the left compartment is really a drawer and the tambour is fixed.

Not a cellarette.

Not a cellarette.

Brass capitals on the fluted columns:

Plinth is brass, too. Trust me.

Plinth is brass, too. Trust me.

And it has funky feet.

Lion and acanthus foot?

Lion and acanthus foot?

And lastly is this large press. I don’t know who made it but I hope they had fun.

Meet the press.

Meet the press. Just a little fancy, no?

Starting at the top:

Ornaments and an ionic capital.

Ornaments and a Corinthian capital.

Interesting stuff in the middle.

Interesting stuff in the middle.

And another unique foot:

Furry ball and crawl foot.

Furry ball and crawl foot.

There will be more from this auction in upcoming days. Gotta work through back inventory

William S. Wooton, He Made Desks

At least from1874 to 1884. The Wooton Desk Company continued until around 1891 but in 1884 Mr. Wooton retired from the business and became a Quaker minister.

If you know the Wooton desk, you most probably know a variant of this one:

Your basic Wooton Desk. Click for another view.

Your basic Wooton Desk. Click for another view.

It was properly known as Wooton’s Patent Cabinet Secretary and was available in four grades. Above is the Ordinary Grade. There was also the Standard Grade, the Extra Grade and as illustrated below, the Superior Grade.

 

It's Superior.

It’s Superior. A little fancy for my taste. Too hard to dust.

But they also made a series of Rotary Desks and I came across one at an auction.

One of style of the Rotary desk.

One style of the Rotary desk.

Both pedestals rotate hence the name rotary.

IMG_9153

And if you need proof of the name:

IMG_9111

You can see an on-line copy of the Illustrated catalogue of Wooton’s patent cabinet secretaries and rotary office desks, 1876, by clicking HERE.

These desks were pushing the peak of Victorian excesses. Conspicuous consumption at it’s finest. You can see several examples of Wooton desks on eBay. Hold on to your wallet and take a look.

In the 1980’s, Scandinavian design was all the rage. I grew very fond of this much simpler version of the secretary:

The Scandinavian secretary.

The Scandinavian secretary. The finest teak veneer.

The dealer’s inventory and my finances never came into alignment hence I was never able to buy one. 30 years later, I came across this one and another one at an auction. My reaction was “meh?” Things changed. I changed. Change is good.

I Went to the North Carolina State Fair and All I Got Was This Odd Business Plan

It has become a tradition for us to attend the NC State Fair on the last Sunday of the run arriving around 9:00 AM. It’s not too crowded, lots to see and also the place we get our annual flu shots. Tradition.

This year we were there for the food. Not really. The highlights were a BBQ pork stuffed jalapeno (well cleaned) dipped in hush puppy batter and deep fried, served with sweet potato waffle fries. (Unfortunately is was good.) Did I mention the jalapeno was bacon wrapped?

The food we didn’t try was the Twinkie stuffed with a Twixt, wrapped in bacon and fried. Or the Krispy Kreme hamburger (Thank you, Paula Dean.) Or a deep-fried anything else.

Walking around looking at my fellow attendees, I was once again astounded by the number of selfies been taken, and many in predictable places. Slowly a business plan started forming in my twisted mind. Let’s say you are the Chief Digital Officer of a magazine publishing company, let’s just use Taunton Press  for this blog. You have the need to find new ways to promote your products online. You fear that there are web pages out there that aren’t promoting your e-commerce sites.

My idea is sponsored photobombers. For those not in the know, photobombing is the fine art of inserting yourself into other people’s pictures. Often without their knowledge or permission.

Speaking of without permission.

Speaking of without permission. Apologies to Mike Peters and Mother Goose and Grimm.

Send attractive young people out with t-shirts with large corporate logos to photobomb as many unsuspecting civilians as possible. Just sit back and watch your logo starting to show up in hundreds of Facebook and Instagram images. I haven’t quite figured out the monetization yet but that should come in time.

Tomorrow, back to furniture like things, promise.

This blog has been modified to correct a typo and correct some sentence structure.

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