Bonnet Top - Walnut Highboy

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Project by Bob A in NJ posted 07-15-2009 03:52 AM 6293 views 4 times favorited 31 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Hi guys,

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted but now you can see why, here are my latest two projects. This is the Queen Anne Highboy from The New Yankee Workshop. After making the cherry lowboy last year, I figured this was the next big challenge. The next post is the matching Lowboy.

I started building these on Jan 2, 2009 and just finishing now. This project, along with the matching lowboy, took about 160 hours to complete. ~100 hours for the highboy and ~60 for the lowboy. That’s a lot of nights and weekends in the shop but that’s my favorite place anyway.

The plans and video from Norm are very good. The first time I viewed the video, I was thinking, “Wow, that is a ton of work!” After building it, I’d say, “Wow, that was a ton of work!” Actually it was a lot of fun.

This is made primarily with solid walnut except the sides of the top case which are walnut plywood donated by my buddy Winfield. The drawer fronts are solid walnut and the rest of the drawers are poplar. The drawer construction is through-dovetails with the fronts are screwed on. The hardware is from Horton Brasses.

If you view the video on highboy construction on The American Woodshop website with Scott Philips, he makes a statement that “You can do it, it’s just bunch of small steps that any woodworker can do”. I tend to agree with him. The only tricky parts were the carvings on the drawer fronts and the gooseneck moldings. Neither were as difficult as I expected. I did one practice piece then made the three drawers and the plith, in the middle of the broken arch pediment. These were made with Flexcut gouges and their new mini scrapers. (No Carvewright system needed)

The cabriole legs are easy to do although when I first started making these they looked intimidating. I’ve made 12 of these now. All you need is a template, a bandsaw a rasp and an orbital sander and you can make one in an hour. Try a practice one, some evening for fun. Norm uses pre-made legs with ball and claw feet. I’ve tried carving a few of these but that’s another level of woodworking skills altogether. Maybe someday….

The goose neck moldings are definitely the hardest part of the project but I did take a short cut here. In Norm’s video, he used 3 different router cutters and/or a table saw, with a lot of hand carving to make a beaded cove molding. I used a Freud 3 ½” panel cutter bit instead. That cutter is really scary when spinning so I used hold-downs to keep my hands away from the cutter. I’m just not that confident I could make the hand cut beads as well as he did. I was also concerned about cutting the two miters joints “dead nuts” on the two ends of the goose neck molding but the laser line on the miter box made it easy.

The bonnet top is actually simple also. In Norm’s version, for the curved top, he used a veneer glued to artist’s canvas. In this version, I used some 3/8” wiggle plywood sent to me by fellow Lumberjock Lee Jesberger. Thanks again Lee!

The rest of the project is pretty much a bunch of boxes and as long as you have a dovetail jig, (I have a Leigh) it’s just a bunch of repetitive cuts. I’m still in awe our forefathers made projects like these without power tools but I’m a firm believer if they had electricity, they would be using table saws, routers and sanders as well.

The finish is a Varathane walnut gel stain to help blend the few pieces of sapwood in the project. Then 12 coats of Sherwin Williams catalyzed lacquer applied with a Earlex HVLP sprayer. Then a coat of Johnson’s paste wax.

This project is a real exercise in patience and just completing one or two process steps per session but like I said, I think most guys can do this. Honestly, I was getting some project fatique towards the end but the results are definitely worth it.

Special thanks to Matt Garcia in Houston for GaryK for their good examples of the same project. Matt and I were communicating during the construction process for tips and techniques.

What’s next? Some easy lathe projects like some bowls and pens for the balance of the summer. I want to do some projects that can be completed in an evening or two after this one before tackling another big project.

Hope you like the results.

Bob A July 14, 2009

-- Bob A in NJ

31 comments so far

View matt garcia's profile

matt garcia

1896 posts in 3696 days

#1 posted 07-15-2009 03:55 AM

Looking GREAT Bob!! You did a great job on the finish, I love the color!!

-- Matt Garcia Wannabe Period Furniture Maker, Houston TX

View a1Jim's profile


117115 posts in 3601 days

#2 posted 07-15-2009 03:58 AM

Hey Bob
Like it? how could you not . fantastic wonderful beautiful well done spectacular. wow this is a great build diffently a winner.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View Dan'um Style's profile

Dan'um Style

14173 posts in 4007 days

#3 posted 07-15-2009 04:00 AM

wow …this is awesome
been wondering what you have been up to !
don’t stay away so long next time

-- keeping myself entertained ... Humor and fun lubricate the brain

View Karson's profile


35125 posts in 4425 days

#4 posted 07-15-2009 04:01 AM

Bob: Great project. Nice job. Truly a step up from the blanket chests.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware soon moving to Virginia †

View CharlieM1958's profile


16275 posts in 4243 days

#5 posted 07-15-2009 04:18 AM

Outstanding job, Bob!

I don’t think I’ve reached the necessary level of patience to take on something like that. Congratulations for getting through it with a great result to show for your efforts.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View woodbutcher's profile


592 posts in 4190 days

#6 posted 07-15-2009 04:27 AM

Bob A in NJ,
Bob are you back already? Man I wouldn’t be back ‘till next year sometime if I had started that project in January. I think you did fantastic with all you were able to accomplish in that time. The Highboy is simply beautiful. Congratulations on such a successful project. I know there has to be a lot of satisfaction now that it is complete. Your patience and determination show themselves mightly with this completed project.

Ken McGinnis

-- woodbutcher north carolina

View kolwdwrkr's profile


2821 posts in 3614 days

#7 posted 07-15-2009 05:52 AM

Very nice work. I actually like the carving more then the typically shell. Nice job

-- ~ Inspiring those who inspire me ~

View Simoogle's profile


6 posts in 3397 days

#8 posted 07-15-2009 06:13 AM


Great job. I appreciated seeing progress along the way and that you like me feel that turning isn’y everything in woodworking. I’ll still need your encouragement to attempt this, but it is something that I need to do.


-- Jerry in Central NJ

View woodworm's profile


14468 posts in 3615 days

#9 posted 07-15-2009 06:20 AM

Five stars *

-- masrol, kuala lumpur, MY.

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


18286 posts in 3700 days

#10 posted 07-15-2009 09:11 AM

WOW++!! Nice workmanship. You make it sound like there is nothing to it :-)) Do you have an idea of your cost to build it? What are you going to do with it?

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View acanthuscarver's profile


268 posts in 3736 days

#11 posted 07-15-2009 01:38 PM

And I thought the lowboy was a great job. Another bit of excellent work. The ankles are better a bit beefier. It definitely works with the mass of the highboy. Great work!

-- Chuck Bender, period furniture maker, woodworking instructor

View Bob A in NJ's profile

Bob A in NJ

1232 posts in 4023 days

#12 posted 07-15-2009 01:39 PM

Topamax. My wife and I are still deciding what to do with it. I want it in the bedroom, she wants it in our dining room. Hopefully it will stay in the familly for the next several generations. As for cost, I wasn’t keeping track but here’s my best guess. Wood, $700, hardware $200, finishing materials $100.

-- Bob A in NJ

View mtkate's profile


2049 posts in 3349 days

#13 posted 07-15-2009 01:47 PM

If I were a part of your family, those pieces would definitely stay!

View HokieMojo's profile


2104 posts in 3752 days

#14 posted 07-15-2009 02:53 PM

that turned out wonderfully. you are a fast worker to turn out 2 projects in so little time. I have far more hours invested in a simple crib I built.

View Lee A. Jesberger's profile

Lee A. Jesberger

6859 posts in 4004 days

#15 posted 07-15-2009 03:09 PM

Hi Bob;

Fantastic work!!!!

You made pretty good time building these. I know projects always seems to be taking forever, but that shows in the outcome.

I agree fully about the masters of the 18th century, being incredible craftsmen, especially when you consider the conditions they worked under.

You sure did an excellent job on this. I agree with your wife, why hide these in the bedroom.

Hope to see you soon;


-- by Lee A. Jesberger

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