There is a hallway/sofa table called a Barclay Console by
Ballard. It has a bowfront drawer. How do you make this
curved piece front on the drawer?
This is the web site address:
Lots of ways. FWW did a piece on this a while ago - I think they had
four different techniques. Many of them look ugly, but who cares
because you're probably veneering it anyway.
For this piece, because it's only a small drawer front, then it's
likely to be bandsawn from a single piece of solid thick stock.
In period, a wider or deeper curve would be be done by "brick
stacking" four or five layers of pre-shaped bowsawn blocks and gluing
them. These days we'd be crude and saw the whole construction to shape
with a deep bandsaw afterwards, Originally they'd be made close
enough to just finish by planing.
Other techniques would be to bend and laminate, or to steam bend from
What an infernally nasty piece of piss-poor design that particular of
crap is. Whoever drew it should be beaten with a stick and locked in
the Rhode Island Museum for a week or two until they learn what it
should have looked like. The lower edge of the apron is a crude hack
of 1700 William and Mary styles, but missing the pendants, and the
sub-Hepplewhite legs are 90 years later.
"Crafted of solid pine", yes it probably is. 8-(
Thank you for the insight to making a bowfront drawer. I kinda like
it. Maybe just do the drawer and table top straight up. I like how
the back board across the back keeps things from sliding off the back
and a drawer to toss in stuff and forget.
With my simplistic workshop capacities, it looked like something
I could do. As well as, its name similar to my own.
Thanks for the insights,
I imagine you could do even better !
I'd want a bandsaw before I started doing bow front drawers. It would
also be useful for the apron and the legs. Of course you can do it
without, but it's hard work.
That console table really is an ugly example. Getting the design
right, especially for repro work, is really important. It's also very
cheap - you don't need expensive new machinery, just a few references
and a pencil.
The front apron is taken from the early part of the 18th century -
either Willima & Mary or Queen Anne. Both of these would probably have
a more complex shape with sharp internal corners (these get removed by
accountants, as they're slower to saw out) and a pair of small turned
The way the top breaks out of being a simple rectangle, and the
matching bowfront drawer, are from the middle of the 18th century.
This was the era of the Rococo and excessive decoration. America was
spared some of Europe's worst excesses here, but it's still likely
that a bow front would have been associated with a little carving or
at least moulding, not to mention a decorative brass handle.
Although American furniture did go through a phase of extreme
simplicity at the end of the century, this was as a showcase for
richly figured veneers and decoration by means of inlay work. The
severe plainness of this piece just makes it look like something that
was banged out of MDF for tuppence.
The legs are probably the worst feature of it. At first I thought
these were clumsy Hepplewhite, but as it's American they might be
clumsy Federal instead. On the whole, I think they're simply cheap - a
continuous profile, relieved only by two coved bands. After the
revolution / war of independence, American furniture stopped following
Europe (or at least England) quite so closely and developed its own
distinct style. The fashion in England would have been for the
Hepplewhite leg, a slender taper cut on the square, rather than the
previous turned or carved legs. The distinctive foot was still square,
but tapered and wider than the foot of the leg. Although America did
produce a few pieces in this style, they're rarely of high quality or
well proportioned - particularly the foot is over-sized. There's a
window seat in the Winterthur museum that appears to be wearing clogs!
At the same time, America's indigenous Federal style was appearing - a
particularly delicate, attractive and modern-looking style that has
much to recommend it for today's cabinetmakers. It's typical simple in
style, but perfectly proportioned, and the skill and labour of making
it mainly goes into high quality veneer and inlay work.
Federal styling, and particularly legs, were influenced by
Hepplewhite, but still distinctive. Legs became square, but the
tapered foot was continuous with the leg dimension, tapering down into
a narrow foot. Compared to this lumpy piece though, the legs should be
far lighter and more delicate - that's Federal biggest single shift
from preceding styles. As a rule of thumb, it's sometimes suggested
that you should draw the legs as you think best, then reduce their
thickness to 3/4 of what you first planned!
The upstand at the back of the table isn't an 18th century feature,
although you could obviously add it. As far as I know, I can't find
any example of such a thing before the Victorian era (I'd be
interested to hear of the first example).
One of my favourite furniture books in Jeffrey Greene's "American
Furniture of the 18th Century"
<(Amazon.com product link shortened)>
It's an excellent mixture of content for collectors and for makers,
and it's very well illustrated. A very good read, even if you never
build a similar piece.
More badly-proportioned Hepplewhite legs
Not too keen on the cabrioles either (some of them are klysmos, not
cabrioles), but the ball-and-claw feet capture the New York style
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