|Project by acanthuscarver||posted 2274 days ago||3747 views||2 times favorited||30 comments|
The original of this desk was in the collection of an extremely good friend. It was made in Philadelphia around 1690 – 1710. I saw the original piece when I was in my teens and knew I had to copy it one day. After nearly two decades of seeing this piece with some regularity, I finally worked up the nerve to ask if I could take patterns. When my friend eagerly agreed, I jumped at the chance. He even allowed me to borrow an original knob from an interior drawer front and one from a lid slide so I could have them copied exactly.
The original was made in walnut with yellow pine and white cedar secondaries. Naturally, since I was making a precise replica, I used the same materials. The yellow pine was recycled from a building in Bethlehem, PA that was built in the mid 1700’s. The white cedar for the drawer bottoms and back boards came from a friend in Virginia Beach who carves decoys. The walnut I used was actually cutoffs from a log set of crotches. I never realized how curly the excess material was until I milled it.
There is a hidden compartment just in front of the two center drawers of the interior. Part of the wrting surface slides back to allow access to a well below. That is the only hidden compartment in my replica. The remainder of the brass hardware was made in England. The iron hinges for the lid were made by a local blacksmith. I “aged” the piece and the final finish is orange shellac, as usual.
My friend has passed on now. He was a WWII hero, a great collector of William and Mary furniture and my friend and mentor. I’m glad I have the copy of this desk to remind me of the great times we had talking until the early morning hours about furniture and the history of our great country. I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed the decades of seeing the original.
-- Chuck Bender, Senior Editor Popular Woodworking Magazine, period furniture maker, woodworking instructor