There was a discussion a few months ago about Darrell Peart's book on Greene
& Greene furniture (www.furnituremaker.com).
I got to meet and take a weekend class from him last summer to learn some of
the details on this style. Thought I'd share the office suite I did based on
things he taught.
The desk is a straight reproduction of the desk you can find on his website
(thanks for his gracious help to me and answering my inane and amateur
questions). The credenza (shared some pics of it on the binaries site a few
months ago) is loosely based on the Thorsen house sideboard and from an
article several years back in Fine Woodworking. The computer table is my own
based on elements from both the desk and credenza that seems to tie it
Made from claro walnut acquired from a friend in Northern CA (thanks Beau!).
For anyone interested I have a slideshow in photobucket (did a tinyurl just
to make sure it came through OK):
Gary A in KC
Yeah I guess that's 8 x 4 sides, lots o' nickitty little sanding I
The leg jig I used in the class was a little sloppy and my leg indent
ramps are a little inconsistent. I could have fixed them but I got the
idea and didn't feel the need.
I have played around with the technique used in the jig to create that
ramp effect on the leg detail and I have a great idea I'll use soon
that will surely get a few "how'd he do that?" questions from other
Bunch of questions
If all that Claro are actually solid boards, you've got a chunk
of change in wood in these pieces - crotch and bookmatched
at that ain't cheap - nor readily available. Any veneer in any
parts and if so - where?
How much fun and games were involved in getting the matching
"cloud lifts" in the drawer faces? Having a little gap makes things
a little easier, slight differences in the matching curves aren't
as obvious as literally a light tight joint that's in a G&G sconce
I had a go at doing. Light would literally show out ANY gaps
between matching "lift" parts.
I imagine having a drawer face with a "lift" must've presented
a challenge when doing the joinery. Dovetails?
Are the panels in the arched top sides of the desk set in rabbets
or actually multi-depth grooves? If the former, how are they
held in place and still allow for wood expansion and contraction?
The one thing I find incongruous are the drawer pulls. The little
dowels look too delicate. If you had access to a lathe you could
turn fatter ones - with a smaller tenon on the ends to fit in the
ebony supports - and turn end caps to match. G&G did do some
parts that aren't actually what they appear to be. Stickly really
got into hiding the ACTUAL joinery (often wood screws) with
inlayed, or even overlayed "ends of tenons".
Anway - nice set.
All the tops, drawer faces, structural pieces and obvious boards (like
stretchers) are the claro - and yes, I have a pretty penny in to the wood.
There's isn't any crotch - it's all just really figured pieces. The tops for
the 3 pieces came from a 17 board flitch of a single 6 foot log, all 4/4
bandsaw milled (by a friend in CA who does the lumber as a sideline of his
woodworking business. If anyone's interested he can be contacted through
www.robertbeauchamp.com). Since it's all from the same flitch, I was able
to do some really attractive (to me anyway) bookmatches - the density of the
figure does make it look like there's some crotch there.
The drawers are one of my cheats. The original Darrell Peart desk does do
exposed/proud finger joints for the drawer faces (take a look at
furnituremaker.com for his great work). He uses solid wood throughout and
exposes the finger joint joinery for that nice Greene & Greene detail. I
didn't want to spend yet another small fortune on solid walnut for the
drawers so I did false drawer fronts over dovetailed poplar drawers. Where
the drawer faces have the cloudlift detail (it's actually inspired by the
Aurora bridge in Seattle says Darrell), the drawers are just sized to fit
the smallest part of the opening. I just created a traced template of the
opening and used it to create the drawer faces. A little light planing and
sanding to get the fit. And you're right, since it has a gap around it, the
fit doesn't have to be perfect - just visually correct.
Panels around sides and back of the desk are veneered panels. Bookmatched
quartersawn curly walnut (can't make a claim to the species). On the sides
the top arch is cut and shaped in the 1" rail and then rabbeted to accept
the 3/4" veneered panel - biscuits between panels and rails for alignment to
keep them flush on the interior. That gives a flat interior panel for the
drawer hardware and for web frames between the drawers. And since it's
veneered panels, expansion isn't an issue.
On the drawer pulls, I was a little worried about their stability as well
until I made the first test sample and tried it out. It's actually 3/8
doweling and not a chance that it will break. The weak point of the handles
is actually the ebony parts which have been bored to accept the dowels.
There's only about 1/8 to 3/16 of ebony left around the bore holes - only
time will tell if that's going to be a problem. Darrell has been making his
like this for years with no problems, though.
And on the rest of the exposed joinery and "tenon caps", if I don't have to
make any more ebony plugs for a few years I'll be happy. There are probably
200 plugs total in the 3 pieces. Each one is individually "pillowed" so it's
surfaced is softly crowned, sanded and polished, cut (about a 1/4 deep),
beveled and hammered/tapped into place. For the most part, they're
ornamental on my pieces, but the do cover screws on the finger joints of the
desk base.I tried to convince by 14 year old how much fun it was to make
these, but after making about 40 one afternoon, he mysteriously disappeared
on shop days.
Thans for the questions and nice comments.
Gary A in KC
very very cool. I want to build one too. Send me some wood! can't get that
stuff around here easily. Wait - can't get any decent wood in do dah flat
land (Wichita KS) anymore. Big blue and orange dun rut every one oft.
I'm in Overland Park and you won't find that wood around here either.
Fortunate to have an old college friend in CA who harvests his own wood for
his fine woodworking business. He wood ain't cheap but it's some of the most
beautiful wood I've ever worked with.
I trusted him to pick out the wood I'd need based on some pretty loose specs
I gave him. Best boards were a 17 board flitch from a 6' log for all the
You can see some of his work at www.robertbeauchamp.com and if interested in
getting some shipped to you - he ships this stuff all over the country.
Gary A in KC
Mark/Juanita had asked kind of the same thing when I first posted some pics
of the credenza a few months ago. The "credenza" is really a dining room
server/sideboard style based on a lot of the Greene & Greene ultimate
bungalow houses. This and the computer desk are "interpretations" of the
Thorsen House sideboard. I modified it's interior so it works well for me in
my office (like a large lateral file drware).
Take a look at this slideshow from popular woodworking:
One of the last slides is a pretty good shot of the sideboard but there's a
lot of great shots of the house and it's designs. I'm a huge fan of this
style (kinda obvious I know). I'd been looking for ideas for new furniture
for my office at work and this really hit home for me.
Gary A in KC
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