Friday, January 2, 2009

Shaker Cupboard Photo Essay - Part III

Playing with the mouldings for the cupboard - ovolo and cove.

Put together as a built-up profile.

Mock-up of crown moulding in place - I liked it, but it was to "colonial" for this cupboard.

A simpler crown moulding mock-up - better - but I would eventually remove the thumbnail top and just go with a simple cove moulding. This also shows a test of one hinge design - taped in place - I liked it, but in the end went with one that had removable pins - it was easier to work with.

Doors complete - final fitting with the planes.

Doors fit - the end is in sight!

Hinge work - and a new appreciation of the Stanley #95 butt gauge.

Close-up of chisel scoring of hinge mortise.

Finishing the mortise with a router plane.

Testing the fit.

Making pilot holes with awl - a sharpened finish nail chucked in old cobbler's awl - the twisting motion seperates the wood fibers - I have more control than with a drill.

Lower doors hung.

Upper doors hung and knobs installed - I turned the knobs on my spring pole (shock cord) lathe - definitely the craftsmanship of risk - I need WAY more practice, and I think I should have used air dried birch rather than kiln dried pine.

Detail of knobs - the conflicting grain patterns won't matter once the cupboard is painted.

Speaking of which... milk paint of course - Union Blue from The Real Milk Paint Co. The cove mouldings had also been added to the top and the step.

And it's done! "Make Way! Blow the trumpets!"

There are still a couple of tweaks needed. I don't like how bright the hinges are - one day I will dull them down a bit. And I might add a second coat of milk paint eventually, but that depends on how it ages... But for now we are very happy with it! And I am very glad to have it out of the shop and in the house! Finally!

A group shot of the tools used on this project. The two contraptions at the bottom are my shooting board and the main part of the treadle lathe (w/o treadle). Missing from photo: miter box.


  1. Dan
    Great Post! I have been reading your site for quite awhile and I really appreciate your diagraming the process on a project of this size with only hand tools.
    Please keep up the good work and remember, it is not the finish line, it is the journey.

  2. Beautiful Dan! I love the simplicity of shaker pieces. Similar to Queen Anne, they let the proportions and stance of the piece do the talking and don't need to rely on complex moldings and carvings to make them beautiful. I love painted pieces as well and you have definately done this one justice. Great job!


  3. @Don:

    Keepem commin.. I wanna See more projects, more projects LOL

    Very well constructed... I am gonna have to say thou...

    Paint? Why must you Ruine a Piece with Paint? LOL, Sorry i'm a Naturlist when it comes to wood.

    I love the project, don't get me wrong, But the natural Wood would have been Great... or to have a Little Color, hickory would have been nice also...


  4. @Dan: For some reason my figures pressed o instead of a for Don instread of Dan.

    my Appoligies... must've had some Sawdust in my Eyes or something. i will get that cleaned out right away!


  5. Franz - Thank You! I am glad you have been enjoying my blog! This is the biggest project to come out of the shop so far and working with hand tools only has been very rewarding. I must say that this project has been a great "look back and see how far you have come" experience. When I first decided to try working with only human power, I was not sure I'd be able to do it. Now, I am much more confident. It's been a great journey so far!

    Bob - Thank You! I too love shaker furniture (and architecture too!), and I agree that it is the proportions that make them so satisfying. I am glad I ditched the first crown moulding design and even the much simpler second design. It just didn't need it.

    Handi - Thanks! And I'd love to see more projects too! If I had more time...

    And as far as painting goes, it really ties the piece together and let's its shape and proportion be the dominant features. On much of my work I leave the wood with a natural, oil and wax, or boiled linseed oil (Tried & True) finish. But on others, I feel the unifying factor of the paint adds to the overall appeal. In this case, the final location of the cupboard was also a factor, as I felt the grain on the piece would conflict with the grain of the flooring.

    When I do paint, I prefer milk paint because it is not overly uniform, rather it ages with a rich, subtly varied patina.

    As a side note, the original cupboard at Pleasant Hill had been painted red. I am not sure if it had been stripped later, or was just lost to age.

    And no worries about the vowel shift :)

  6. Dan, great job on the cupboard--it's fabulous! I enjoyed your pictorial journey.

    Painted Shaker furniture is more accurate than unpainted if you are trying to match their 18th c. style. The Shakers tried to keep up with world trends in some ways. So, when the "world" decided it liked natural rather than painted wood, the Shakers stripped the paint off their furniture. That's why there are so few painted Shaker pieces. The original painted pieces were vibrant--red, yellow, bottle green, and blue.

    So, kudos, Dan. You made a fine 18th c. reproduction!

  7. Hi Dan - Your blog is inspirational, and a pleasure to read. Thanks for putting up. I really like the picture of your workbench with tools. I would love to see some pictures and details about your lathe. A few questions for you - What is the purpose of the board full of different size holes? What is the plane to the left of the record 778? /Brian Sullivan

  8. Dan,

    Very very cool!

    Now you have room in the shop to make a dogsled....

    Yer Brother

  9. Kari - Thank you for the compliment! And thanks for the information on painted Shaker furniture. I had forgotten about that "worldly" influence. I think that Hancock Shaker Village has a room set up in the original paint scheme. I will have to look through the bazillion pictures I took there a couple of years ago to be sure. My memory is that it was VERY bright colors.

    Brian - Thank you! I'm glad you enjoy the blog. I am also glad you like the tool shot. It is something I tend to do at the end of my projects, but I don't think I've posted a similar shot before. I am working on another post about this set of tools. It will include more information about the tools and how they were used.

    In the meantime (and I am moving pretty slowly just now), I'll answer your specific questions:

    The board of holes is, well - a board of holes! Just kidding, sort of. It's a series of holes bored by the auger bit set - 1/4" to 1" in 1/16th increments. I use it when trying to decide on hole size etc. I also use it as a gauge to check the fit of round tenons, such as those on the knobs for this cupboard. Auger bit sizing actually runs a bit larger than the stated size, so I find the gauge a simple way to make sure things fit snugly.

    As for the plane to the left of the Record 778, it's a Stanley #48 match plane. It has a rotating fence to switch between T and G. What might look like a wooden fence or stop is actually a short piece of wood I use as a prop so that the plane sits upright. Are you familiar with these planes? I love mine. I think they are one of the coolest, and most effective of Stanley's line.

    Josh - Now the space isn't an issue, but time is! At the speed I am moving you would be lucky to get it out by breakup! Are you still thinking about a huge, traditional freight sled? Or something of a more modern hybrid like your other sleds?

  10. Hey Dan - I didn't know what the #48 was until you mentioned it, so I looked around and saw they are not expensive and fairly common on Ebay. Now I start the debate on whether to buy another tool.

    Thanks/ Brian

  11. Brian -

    Well, if you want a reliable workhorse of a plane for T&G, you can't go wrong with a #48 or a #49(for thinner stock). If you want more information about these you might spend some time over on Patrick Leach's incredible site "Blood and Gore". It's at if you haven't found it yet. A fantastic, and funny, resource on Stanley planes.

    I bought both my planes off of Ebay. My 48 was missing the cutters, but I dug some up from my mismash of #45 parts. There are often cutters for sale on Ebay, and I believe Jim Reed has a good reputation for making replacement cutters. I think the most important thing is that the lever caps are intact, and that they have both lever cap screws - I am pretty sure they are proprietary thread, which would make replacing them harder (of course, I might be wrong about that). Also, the entire fence is locked by one pin near the front of the plane, so that needs to be there as well. Just look very closely at the pictures, and happy hunting!

  12. Prety good.where is your halving t joint

  13. Thanks. The only halved t joints are on the bottom rail. Of course you can't see them, as they are on the back side. I also used halved joints on the corners of the face frame, rather than M&T. Can't remember why - might have had a reason - might have been a whim...

  14. I actually stumbled on this blog a while back (there was a post about a cradle which I enjoyed) and it looks as though here I am again! Fab job on the cabinet. I wish I had the talent, space, and tools to craft me some furniture. I'm digging the paint. I'm in the process of painting a beat up cabinet I found and revived with bright red milk paint from The Real Milk Paint. I love milk paint. Some pieces look better painted and this is one of those things; definitely more pop. It's so much fun to observe the process from start to finish, thank you for sharing.

  15. B. Anna - You're welcome! Sorry for the delay in responding - this one must have slipped by this summer. I agree, that some pieces just look better painted (which for me is almost always milk paint) - although it is always tempting to just leave it alone...


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