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Building a Houseful of Furniture #1: Master Bedroom

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Blog entry by DustyMark posted 521 days ago 2270 reads 1 time favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Building a Houseful of Furniture series Part 2: Kitchen and Family Room »

Watch this video that takes a quick tour of the furniture I’ve made for my master bedroom. Future blog entries will include the family room, kitchen, dining room, guest bedroom, and living room.

I’ve built seven pieces of furniture for my master bedroom over the years. I like furniture that is in the Shaker or the modern Shaker style and have stayed mostly with that style in solid cherry with a natural oil finish.

The bed is the oldest piece and was built in 1991.

The night stands followed shortly after the bed. These classic Shaker tables are a perfect project to help introduce a friend or family member to woodworking. It involves many disciplines to include edge gluing a panel, building a carcass frame using mortise and tenon joints, dovetailing a drawer, and tapering a leg.

The cherry wardrobe introduced me to large case construction. The case sides are always bigger than a home-sized planer, so I’ve learned the beauty of a sharp hand plane.

The lower half of the wardrobe contains a useful bank of drawers. It’s kind of a pain to open a door to get to a drawer. I like Thos. Moser’s design of his Dr. White’s chest where the door only covers the shelf area. I’m building my daughter one of those now.

The seven-drawer chest of drawers holds a lot of clothes and is very solid. My Dad made the bowl and the small box on top of the chest.

The desk has been used in the dining room of two previous houses, the living room of another, and currently finds its home in the master bedroom. I was concerned about how an L-shaped desk would fit in future homes, but I’ve always found a good place for it. This is my own design and combines traditional, tapered Shaker legs with a profiled edge laminate top. This mix of styles helps the piece fit any room.

The book case is the newest piece and was probably built in 2004 or so.

You can see from the photos and the video that the furniture blends well together. It helps to have a master plan for your furniture building. You might change this plan on occasion, but your plan will ensure style integration and help prioritize your efforts. It’s very satisfying to survey a room and realize that you’ve made almost every piece in it with your own hands!

-- Mark, Florida



10 comments so far

View stefang's profile

stefang

12605 posts in 1939 days


#1 posted 521 days ago

All are very nice pieces Mark. I agree that it is a good idea to keep styles and finishes harmonized or at least compatible for the sake of consistency.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View Beginningwoodworker's profile

Beginningwoodworker

13337 posts in 2278 days


#2 posted 521 days ago

Nice peices of furniture, Mark.

-- CJIII Future cabinetmaker

View gfadvm's profile

gfadvm

10604 posts in 1295 days


#3 posted 521 days ago

You have built a houseful of beautiful furniture. The finish works really well on that cherry. What “natural oil finish” did you use?

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View DustyMark's profile

DustyMark

271 posts in 675 days


#4 posted 521 days ago

I’ve used Watco Danish Oil a lot in the past. I think that’s what’s on the wardrobe. I tried tung oil on my 5-drawer dresser, but wasn’t happy with the slow drying time. Boiled linseed oil makes a nice oil finish and it has a nice feel after applying some wax. I think that’s what I used on the book case. Sam Maloof’s oil and wax finish produce nice results and I think that’s what I used on the desk. The 7-drawer dresser has a type of wiping varnish that I read about, possibly in a Tage Frid book. It consists of one part mineral spirits, one part boiled linseed oil, and one part marine spar varnish. The varnish allows it to build up just a bit.

I’ve found that the best finish to use inside a chest of drawers or a wardrobe is shellac. It dries quickly and doesn’t keep off-gassing for years like oil does in an enclosed space. I used this technique on the 7-drawer dresser with incredible success. I shellac the inside first. I can easily sand off any shellac that extends too far towards the outside of the case. Once I’ve applied the desired coats of shellac and sanded the transition line, I then apply the oil finish. It’s nice when your clothes don’t smell like oil finish. Orange shellac flakes bring the cherry to a color that matches the oil finish well.

-- Mark, Florida

View lysdexic's profile

lysdexic

4779 posts in 1228 days


#5 posted 521 days ago

Mark, I would be very proud of this collection. How do you go about planning for your pieces. I know that you like to borrow design inspiration from Thos Moser designs. Yet, the “Tear sheet” only gets you so far.

-- It isn't the mountains ahead to climb that wear you out; it's the pebble in your shoe. - Muhammad Ali

View DustyMark's profile

DustyMark

271 posts in 675 days


#6 posted 520 days ago

Scott,
Thanks! Many of Thos. Moser’s pieces share common parts and methods that are shown in greater detail in his books. For instance, Dr. White’s chest is in both his old and updated books and includes a lot of helpful details. I’m not including the hidden compartment, so I’ll be able to make the center stile in a more pleasing, narrower width. His old book included quite a few helpful details for the Bowback chairs and that was long before his tear sheets were available.

I used to subscribe to Woodsmith (issues 1-200 are available on DVD for $100) and learned a lot about good design and construction by looking at all of their detailed plans. I also have an extensive library of books and videos that gave me a base knowledge which I use to execute and/or adapt other’s designs.

I’ll often design at the bench, with chair projects, and that involves experimenting, messing up, and doing over. My first Bowback chair was sort of a flop with the seat blank being too straight at the back edge and not deep enough. More recently, I turned a complete set of 14 back spindles for my first New Gloucester rocker with 3/8” tenons at the base. Those broke during dry assembly. That was a week of hobby work down the drain!

Thankfully, case construction is much more straight forward. Decisions here involve proportion and perhaps quality. Will I do a solid wood floating panel for the back or will a piece of plywood suit the project? I think the top molding on the Dr. White’s chest is proportionally too small and plan to make it slightly larger.

A shorter answer: I’ve got a knack for running with a design and I’ve honed that aptitude in the workshop by tackling lots of different pieces. Check out this boat my son and I built…

Lower frame complete.

Here’s the final product. A lot of learning happened on that project!

-- Mark, Florida

View lysdexic's profile

lysdexic

4779 posts in 1228 days


#7 posted 520 days ago

You mean I actually have to do some work?! Crazy, I say :^)

Thanks for your thoughtful answer.

-- It isn't the mountains ahead to climb that wear you out; it's the pebble in your shoe. - Muhammad Ali

View gfadvm's profile

gfadvm

10604 posts in 1295 days


#8 posted 520 days ago

Mark, Thanks for the reply re: finishing

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View Beginningwoodworker's profile

Beginningwoodworker

13337 posts in 2278 days


#9 posted 517 days ago

Nice boat, I like to fish myself.

-- CJIII Future cabinetmaker

View DustyMark's profile

DustyMark

271 posts in 675 days


#10 posted 516 days ago

Thanks! We used the boat for skiing and wake boarding. We could pull up two at a time with only a 25 hp outboard. I sold the boat to a friend after my youngest joined the Air Force, but it was a lot of fun to build and to ride!

-- Mark, Florida

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