A “Must” read for furniture builders and designers
I’ve owned a copy of Franklin Gottshall’s book, “Reproducing Antique Furniture” since the 1970’s. I have others as well. Anyone who has ever been serious about building Period furniture is, very likely, familiar with Mr. Gottshall’s work.
Several weeks ago I was visiting with my friend, Les. He pulled out a book that he had recently purchased and, after giving me a few minutes for perusal, asked me what I thought of it. Well, to say the least, I was shocked. First it was a book by Gottshall that I was totally unaware of. Second, it was unusual, in that it was crammed full of useful information. The title of the book says it all; “How to Design and Construct Period Furniture.”
First published in 1937, the book sets forth fifty-six design rules that deal with everything from proportion and ornament to the use of color. It also offers test questions to allow the reader to determine if he or she has a real understanding of the rules being applied. The second part of the book contains descriptions of the various characteristics of the major groups of period furniture. But what immediately jumps out at the reader when he or she begins thumbing through the book is the amount of graphic information presented. Dimensioned line drawings representing the “envelope” of tables, seating, casework and accessories in each group. And, by the way, this is information that is sound and applicable to any type of furniture design, not simply Period work.
I know that not everyone share’s my bibliophilia (a disorder that can leave one destitute, rather like the love of fine tools). But I must say that this is one of those books that falls into the category of “got to haves” for anyone serious about furniture building.
And, just so you know that Mr. Gottshall was pretty darned good with his hands as well as his head, you may want to give this little exercise a try. It’s copied from his book, “Reproducing Antique Furniture”. The challenge is, once the block is cut and squared (with hand saw and hand plane, of course) to dimension, it’s chisel only (okay, maybe a mallet as well). You’ll be a better woodworker for your effort.