A Bottom for the Top

A month ago, or so, I finished up a curly maple top.  It was really an experiment, trying to use a couple of different coloring methods.  The varnish is just about cured and it’s ready to be rubbed out.  When I put the top together, I had no idea how I would use it.  Some type of table, but I just wasn’t sure.

Inspiration came from several directions and it was nearly simultaneous.  Several weeks back, Mr. Jack Plane put  together an exquisite  elm lowboy.  BTW, if you’re not reading Jack’s blog ( www.pegsandtails.wordpress.com ), you’re missing a real treat.  Les and I had been talking about a highboy that he’s been wanting to get finished.  And, then he and I traveled to a SAPFM meeting where Jeff Headley presented a lovely miniature highboy.  It was obvious, the top would be perfect for some type of Queen Anne endeavor.  So lowboy it was!

I’ve never built a lowboy.  So, I decided that I’d do something that would be my interpretation of a “country” version of a Philadelphia lowboy.  What I had in mind was something with very little carving, trifid feet and the carcass would be painted.  Yes, that’s right, paint!  Milk paint to be more precise.  I’m thinkin’ like really early QA.  Think of an era when the William and Mary police were still looking for rural cabinetmakers who were putting together these demonic new designs.  Queen Anne, indeed!  The big plus here is that I can use some “less than perfect” ash here and no one need be the wiser.   So I merged a little Norman Vandal with several other designs and here’s what I came up with:

You can see that the lumber being used is not the best….  Maybe I’ll resurrect an older tradition here.

So moving along, today I rough finished the face section.  Because I work in a very limited space, the overwhelming majority of my joinery is done using hand tools.  (I love working with hand tools.  But I will have to admit that as I get older, there are a few very good reasons to occasionally “plug-in”.)  The sliding dovetails in the face assembly appear to be a little “sloppy”.  Actually this design brings the leg posts flush with the rails.  At the moment the posts are still proud of the rails.  But, trust me, I spent the better part of today cutting these little buggers.

The next step will be to dissemble the carcass, then finish up the legs, shaping and carving.  I intend to cockbead the drawers (another method of disguising “less than perfect” joinery) and use W&M drop pulls.  The trifid feet are right out of Vandal’s book.  The big looming question is whether or not to do a shell on the center, lower drawer.  One thing you can count on is that (if I decide to do it), it will be a applied feature.  Have you ever tried to carve ash?  Stay tuned…

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2 Comments on “A Bottom for the Top”


  1. I say paint a shell on the front.


  2. I think you should paint a shell, in milk paint, on the front.


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