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Thread: Arts & Craft furniture question

  1. #1

    Arts & Craft furniture question

    So as good fortune would have it, I recently bought about 45 bd ft of 4/4 QSWO. I have in mind a Stickley-style glass-door bookcase. Having experienced all too frequently the problems of designing as I go, I went to the library and found some books with plans that are at least close to what I have in mind.

    The Issue: Both of the plans that approximate what I'd like to build have a "leg and panel" construction for the sides. They call for 8/4 boards for cutting out the legs. I only have 4/4 boards.

    The Dilemma: I could, of course, go get an 8/4 board or two for the legs. Then I could also get some 5/4 for a thicker top. Then, at that point, I have to start thinking about whether I really want to go with a plywood back and risk the wrath of Gustav Stickley, or whether I should get additional boards for a shiplapped back. OR, I could just make the legs by doubling up some 4/4 ripped to the right width.

    The Question: So, what do people generally do? Double up 4/4, or cut the legs from 8/4?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Villa Park, CA
    Some of the Arts and Crafts legs were put together in a special way so that each side would have quarter sawn figure. I remember seeing some info on how to do it in some book but I don't remember where. One way to think of it is as four pieces of wood with miter joints and no hole in the center - but there was some better ways to do it in the book. Maybe someone else will have some ideas.

    Ancora imparo
    Go into the world and do well. But more importantly, go into the world and do good.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    North Central Wisconsin
    I have been building an Arts and Crafts bedroom set using QSWO. Last year I built the bed and two night stands, and I am currently about 3/4 done with two chest/dressers.

    The bed required some big posts (3 1/2" square IIRC). In order to get the desirable QSWO ray fleck patterns on all four sides I face glued two 4x4 QSWO boards together with some scrap ash I had laying around between them in one big wood sandwich. You can use 'cheaper' wood in the middle since it won't be seen. If the tops of the post are exposed, this won't work for you.

    I then resawed two pieces of QSWO veneer to about 1/8" and glued it to the exposed edges of the sandwich. After applying a small bevel cut on the edges you can't see any of the glue lines, and I have some real nice QSWO ray patterns on all 4 sides.

    If you don't have resaw capability, another way to accomplish the same thing is to cut 4 pieces of 4x4 with 45 degree miters on both edges. You can then glue these pieces into a tall 'box' which will have the same result with no glue lines at all.

    I found it easier to do the first method, and also believe that with either method you get a more stable end product than using 8x4 by itself, with the extra benefit of getting the ray pattern on all 4 sides (which you won't have with a single piece of 8x4).

    Hope this makes sense and helps.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Spokane, WA
    If memory serves, there is a Popular Woodworking book on arts and crafts furniture that shows the method to make wide legs with 4/4 boards that show all quarter sawn surfaces.

    "A dog teaches a boy fidelity, perseverance, and to turn around three times before lying down."
    Robert Benchley

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    London, Ontario
    what Dick said. I've heard of this several times also. Seems far easier than trying to miter the pieces that make up the legs.

  6. #6
    One of the books I have talks about using a lock miter bit in a router table to create legs and get the ray fleck look on all four sides but the veneer idea is the one I've seen used more often (at least David Marks used that method on one of his programs )and would probably suit your stock needs better and seems to me would be less waste. But, I just checked and the book I have that talks about this is "In the Craftsman Style" from Taunton Press, pg. 132 shows the lock miter bit method and pg. 146 shows the table saw miter method.

    Have fun with all that QSWO!!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    I believe I've also read somewhere that originals used a boxed up & mitered leg, the goal being all QS faces. You can get a kind of cool effect by ripping the most noticable faces out of the same board so that the grain "wraps" around the corner. You won't notice that effect much with oak, though maybe somewhat with QS.

    Mitered legs aren't that hard to do, but you have to have 1. a precise miter, 2. a tightish spline (no biscuits), 3. a whole lot of clamps

    If you wanted to try it, this could also be an excuse to buy a lock miter router bit. Then the precise miter and spline are taken care of and you're left wanting lots 'o clamps.

    The shop I used to work for built a lot of this stuff, and they glued up flats for the legs if there was no thicker wood around. I didn't care for the effect personally, but that's just me.

    As to the back, what do you plan to put in the bookcase? If it's a display type thing and you'll see more of the back, then go the extra mile and shiplap or frame and panel it. I'd probably do frame and panel myself, but then the version we built was more G&G than Stickley, so my mind tends to run along those lines.

    Post some pics if you can!


  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    a short distance from my body

    I've built up many 2x2 inch and larger posts and beams using a variation on the quadralinear method used by Stickley. The result is a post that looks solid with QSWO ray flecks on all sides.

    This post on SMC will give you a quick overview of the concept and the problems.

    I've used splines to hold the pieces together, but I have my own funky biscuit method that seems to work fine.

    Concerning clamping, I found that fewer clamps will make it easier to keep things square. But it still needs to be held tight, so I wrap the assembled posts in shrink wrap.

    Keep us informed on your project progress. I'm a big fan of Stickley, A&C, mission, Wright, and prairie styles.

    "I tell you, we are here on Earth to fart around, and don't let anybody tell you different." - Kurt Vonnegut

  9. #9
    Thanks for all the advice -- and I think I remember that Mark Singer over at SMC had a similar way of making a leg and concealing end grain. I'll have to give one of these methods a try (on the table saw - no router table, unfortunately. That' a project for another day).

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    The Heart of Dixie
    Can't add much. I just did a bed where I needed bigger posts than I had lumber for. I used the methods discussed here. Thought you might like like to see photos.

    All done on the table saw, sloted with a dado set. Just watch that the splines don't have thick spots. Makes them dang near impossible to get them to clamp up tight. I had one spline that had a larger end for some reason.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    PS, forgot to add this. Go to an office supply and find you a 45 degree drafting triangle. It's perfect for getting the miters set on the table saw.
    Last edited by Jeff Horton; 02-19-2007 at 07:25 PM.
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