Thorsen House Cabinet #1: Project Overview

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Blog entry by EläväPuu posted 11-24-2014 01:51 PM 1554 reads 1 time favorited 2 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Thorsen House Cabinet series Part 2: Preliminary CAD plan and design specifics »

Hello everybody! </drnick>

This is my opening post on Lumberjocks with a new project which I have seen done several times previously. I can squarely lay the blame for this one on Joe McGlynn, whose own derivation of the Thorsen House dining room cabinet planted the seed for my own attempt. I’m aiming to document my thought processes and decision-making through this blog, so hopefully it should bring something new to the table other than snapshots of work in progress. As of writing the project is only in the 2D CAD stage, collating measurements and working on basic proportioning. If anything this is the most important stage in a Greene & Greene derived project, otherwise the finished piece lacks harmony within itself and in the place it is situated.

I understand that plans for a Thorsen House style cabinet exist, reproductions by Dale Barnard and classes by William Ng teaching a similar idea. They all seem well and good to me, however the do lack some important details. It is these – in my opinion – that separate the original piece from otherwise “basic exercises in casework with fancy dressing”. Whilst my own interpretation of the cabinet will also be removed from the original in a few areas, I do want to concentrate on incorporating the additional layer of fine detail which is otherwise commonly missing.

I’m currently finishing up the final year of a woodworking degree here in Finland whilst ramping up my own commercial workshop. The work will be done at the school itself, so that will go some way as to explaining the ridiculous tool and operation choices. My material of choice is locally-sourced Birch on the basis that Mahogany is both expensive and not a sustainable choice. Additionally, the lighter tones of Birch lift a room in your typical Finnish house better than darker woods like Mahoganies, Walnuts and heavily-stained Oak.

I’m sure that I have glossed over several points or dwelt upon some too much. I’m looking forward to this and subsequent projects being opened to discussion with the membership, so I’ll cap this post off and move on to the design brief….

-- "What can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence"

2 comments so far

View JoeMcGlynn's profile


219 posts in 2379 days

#1 posted 11-24-2014 02:55 PM

I’m eager to see your version develop! Dale’s design captures the spirit of the actual piece. but when I went to visit the Thorsen house while making the cabinet I was struck by several things. First, the scale of the stiles and rails, and mullions/muntins is much finer on the original. They are narrower all around. The other was the fit of the doors into the case. They are insert, but the edge of the door and the opening are stepped so the notch together. There are some pictures and video clips from a video clip tour of the Throsen house that show some of this on by blog.

I also put the final version of the plans I drew up on my blog this morning—I put these together to help me build it, and there should be enough for someone else to follow along, but they don’t explain every detail of the process to make the parts or assemble the pieces.

Have fun building!

-- Blog:

View EläväPuu's profile


31 posts in 1306 days

#2 posted 11-24-2014 08:01 PM

Hei Joe (that one will get old quickly),

Firstly, thanks! I have to agree and disagree somewhat about Dale’s version.
(I wrote about this in my second blog post, which I was actually writing when I noted this comment come in with an email notifier. Nice timing!)

Dale has definitely got the ideas down and his work is fantastic. He loves the work and the style. You can’t knock that. I think however that he misses – or elects to miss – some of the finer details that don’t immediately catch most people’s eye. Perhaps because Dale works over a larger canvas, the focal point differs or perhaps making an entire kitchen’s worth of cupboards means the details are obviated as a practical working decision? His cabinet – from which your own was based – is towards the realm of more standard box cabinetry work. Bear with me on this one. His looks like all of the parts are somewhat “less married”. Like you could reach in and simply lift off the top, carcass and skirt the same as you would lift books off a pile.

The original blends the pieces together more. For example, the light recessed bead across the top of the doors implies connection to the top as three levels, locking it in with the carcass and dropping back another dimension. The same applies with the skirt, with the front portion cut halfway in from what the finger joint implies (look underneath!) and again a beading detail. Everything is merged together visually to form a composite whole rather than the “stack of books”. The number of steps top-down and front-inwards is greater, plus they cross over each other, compounding the effect of bringing the otherwise separate parts into a whole.

This might be a bit of mad word salad here, but that’s what happens when you pore over a Greene & Greene piece and decide you’re staring at noodles….!

- Carl

-- "What can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence"

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