Shaping a pedestal without a lathe

by Mac Campbell

Fig. 2: Table construction

End of cleat, 8V2 in. radius

directic n

Leave for cla extra t mping bevelina eda

Leg is fully round at foot.

Screw near pedestal keeps top centered.


Shape filler blocks with round-bottom plane to blend with leg. Position filler blocks so planing is easiest top to bottom

When cutting bevels on legs and filler blocks, leave blunt point for easier glue-up.

Top view of pedestal

Filler block

Screw hole

Elongate hole to accommodate expansion and contraction of top.

26 The Best of Fine Woodworking

Drawings: Lee Hov

To my taste, the Shakers developed the finest pedestal tables. I'm particularly fond of the cherry table made at Hancock, Mass., Shaker Village around 1830. The transition along die leg, up through the pedestal, is remarkably smooth. Still, there is a transition, and I've never been comfortable with the visual disruption it creates. Ideally, I think, the lines of the table should flow from the fl(x)r to the tabletop in a single, smooth, unbroken sweep. When a client asked me to design a contemporary pedestal table based on the Shaker theme, I jumped at the opportunity to "get it right."

My solution was to form each leg as an extension of the pedestal itself. Where the Shaker stand has a turned pedestal with legs joined at the bottom, my pedestal takes its shape from the way the three legs join together continuously along the vertical centerline of the table. And unlike the Shakers, I don't have to turn any parts to build it. Instead, I add filler blocks in the angled space between adjacent legs and then shape them to smooth the transition from leg to leg. The table shown in the photo below is the result. It is mahogany, but walnut or cherry are equally suited to the style.

In building the table, 1 first make a template for the legs. 1 mark out 1-in.-thick stock for the three legs and rough them out on the handsaw. I also prepare stock for the filler blocks. Then, I carefully rip-cut a 30° angle along both edges of each leg and of each filler block where they will be joined together along the table's vertical centerline. .After tapering the legs on a jointer and further refining their shape with rasps and files, I glue up the legs and the filler blocks, using specially made fixtures, to form the pedestal. A cleat is screwed to the top of the pedestal and screws, in turn, are run up through the cleat to secure the top. .After sanding the table. I apply French polish or oil.

Making the leg/pedestal template-The basic information you'll need to make the full-size leg template and to construct the rest of the table is shown in the drawings on the facing page and below. Plywood and Masonite are good materials for patterns, but I prefer to use '/«-in.-thick Lucite. Because I.ucite is transparent, I can lay out the work with an eye toward the best grain orientation and avoid defects in the wood. Cut out the pattern on a bandsaw, then smooth the pattern edges to eliminate flat spots and to ensure fair curves. Rasps, tiles and sandpaper work best for this. Smoothing the pattern at this point is far easier than correcting mistakes on each of the three legs later on.

The grain patterns of the filler blocks and legs should match closely; you want the visual "fit" of the shaped pieces to be as good ;ts the physical fit. When roughing out the 1-in.-thick stock for the legs and filler blocks, leave the pieces wide enough to extend a few inches above the fence on your tablesaw, so you'll have room to clamp the pieces when you make the 30° ripcuts along the mating edges. Mark out the leg with the template, orienting the grain parallel to the leg's long dimension for maximum strength. As you bandsaw each leg, cut away from the pattern (as shown in figure 3 below) to leave extra width opposite the leg's inside edge; this edge must be straight and square to run against the saw table. Save the waste from these bandsaw cuts because it'll be used later when making the clamping jigs and cauls needed to assemble the pedestal. Finally, joint the inside edge of each leg and one edge of each filler block. Final shaping of the legs and filler blocks isn't done until after you bevel the edges, as shown in figure 4 on the following page.

Fitting the legs and filler blocks-The legs project radially from the vertical centerline of the pedestal, separated from each other by 120°. For a good fit, the mating edges of the legs and filler blocks must be cut accurately, so it pays to be meticulous in setting up your saw to make these 30° cuts. You will be making a total of

French Polish Furniture

Start with a 1x6x 12'/s block.

Fig. 3: Making the legs and filler blocks

Bandsaw pattern. Leave extra width to allow for clamping when cutting bevels.

/ Bullnose edge along (i<| y vertical part of leg.

Cut 30° bevels leaving a Vie-in. flat along edge.

Start taper here.

Joint edge.

Finished filler block

Cut 30° bevels leaving a '/win. flat along edge.

The pedestal of this sleek update of the Shaker classic is constructed by laminating filler blocks in the gaps between the legs and shaping the juncture with a round-bot-tom plane. This table is made of mahogany and finished with French polish.

Round leg with rasps, files.

Photo this page. Keith Minchin: all other photov Mac Campbell

Traditional Furniture Projects 27

Fig. 4: Tablesaw setup for bevel cuts

Leg or filler block is cut oversize to prevent fence from interfering with clamp.

Sawblade is set to 30° cuts in auxiliar fence to ensure complete, clean cut.

Auxiliary fence


Plywood insert

First 30° bevel

Board is clamped to edge, workpiece for stability and safety when ripping.

Fig. 4: Tablesaw setup for bevel cuts

Leg or filler block is cut oversize to prevent fence from interfering with clamp.

Sawblade is set to 30° cuts in auxiliar fence to ensure complete, clean cut.

Auxiliary fence


Plywood insert

First 30° bevel

Board is clamped to edge, workpiece for stability and safety when ripping.

Wood Filler Plywood Edge
The author freehands penciled guidelines along the leg's edge before shaping with planes, rasps and files.

12, 30° ripcuts: two cuts along the mating edges of each leg and each filler block. The error from each cut accumulates, so after the parts are assembled, the total error can be appreciable.

These cuts, like any made on a tablesaw, can be dangerous, so be extra careful. It's a good idea to make a plywood insert for the blade slot so the work will be fully supported at all times. Lower the blade below the level of the table (use a smaller-diameter blade if necessary, to get sufficient clearance) and fit the insert snugly into the blade slot. Set the blade to 30° (from the vertical), turn on the saw and raise the blade slowly so it can cut its own clearance slot. I continue to raise the blade until it just cuts into the auxiliary fence. This ensures that the ripcut will extend cleanly through the legs and filler blocks. Be careful to stand away from the back of the saw while making these cuts, as the waste piece, pinched between the blade and fence, may be kicked back by the blade at the end of the cut.

Here's how 1 set the blade to eliminate any perceptible error: Square up a length of 1-in.-wide scrapwood to about '/> in. thickness. With the '/2-in. edge down, 1 make a crosscut with the blade set at 30°. Then I Hip the piece 180° (the other '/2-in. edge will now be down) and make another crosscut to pnxJuce an equilateral triangle. When I have six triangles, I fit them together on a Hat surface with sawn surfaces butted to form a hexagon. Any error in the tilt of the blade is evident when I uy to fit the hist triangle. If necessary, 1 adjust the blade a bit and cut six more triangles, repeating the process until all the joints in the hexagon are snug.

After setting the blade angle, 1 adjust the fence so the blade will begin its cut a hair less than halfway into the thickness of the legs and filler blocks, as shown in figure 4 at left. The small flat that will be left after both angled cuts have been made will allow for a little play in aligning the pieces when they are glued up. Figure 4 also shows how I clamp the workpiece to a scrap-board (its bottom edge jointed) for making these angled ripcuts. In addition to keeping your hands well clear of the blade, the scrapboard increases accuracy, because the jointed edge of the scrap piece bears on the saw table and minimizes the tendency for the workpiece to wobble during the cut. Remember to stand off to the side, away from the back of the saw.

Finish the job by bandsawing off the extra width you had left for clamping the legs. Also, reset the tablesaw blade to its vertical position and rip-cut the filler blocks along the edge formed by the intersection of the bevel and the Hat side of each piece. Now the cross section of each filler block is an equilateral triangle measuring 1 in. on each side, but with one of the corners slightly flattened. For easy shaping later, determine the grain orientation of the surface opposite the flattened corner by making a light pass with a handplane. The direction of easiest planing—no tendency for the wood to tear—for each filler block should be oriented from top to bottom when you assemble them to the legs; mark each block accordingly.

Shaping the legs—Before gluing up the legs and filler blocks, I use rasps, files, flat Surforms and a spokeshave to refine the leg profiles and to eliminate any remaining handsaw marks and irregularities. At this stage, the goal is to produce a nice flowing line rather than velvety smoothness, so don't worry about sanding yet. Take time to fair the profiles nicely: Shaping will be more difficult after you've assembled the legs and added the filler blocks. Now is also the best time to finish shaping the legs' cross sections. The legs should be bullnose shaped along the vertical part of the pedestal, then taper gradually to the foot, where they are fully rounded. I shape the legs in two steps: First, I taper the sides of the lower portion of the legs; second, I form the cross-sectional contour of the legs.

The taper begins at the bottom of the pedestal, where the legs flare away from the center of the table, and continues to the foot, where '/« in. is removed from each side of each leg. You can make this taper with a handplane, but I find it is easier and faster to do it on the jointer. Adjust the infeed table so it is '/« in. lower than the outfeed and clamp a stop block securely to the infeed table 14Vi in. from the leading edge of the outfeed table. For safety, I use push boards to move the legs over the cutterhead. Both sides of each leg get tapered.

Contouring the cross section of the legs is strictly handwork, but it's not particularly difficult. I first shape the lower, tapered portion of each leg. The goal here is to gradually soften the shape, ending with the foot fully rounded. As a guide, pencil in three lines lengthwise along each edge and side of the leg. dividing each surface into quarters. Make these lines freehand, running your fingers along the leg's edge to guide and steady your hand as you draw each line. All of the shaping is done with files and rasps: First, chamfer the corners between the outermost lines on each side and edge; then round these newly formed corners, working between the middle of the chamfer and the centerlines on each side and edge. The upper half of the leg is simpler: Here you just need to soften the edges a bit. You can do this with files and rasps or by routing with a '/2-in. quarter-round bit. but 1 prefer to do all the shaping by hand to avoid the harsh uniformity of a machined surface. Finish the shaping by hand-sanding the legs with 150-grit.

28 The Best of Fine Woodworking

From line \\'<xxtworking magazine (July 1989) 77:44-<i7

These three photos show the fixture and damping arrangements used for assembling two legs with a filler block (left); two filler blocks with a leg (center): and the final pedestal glue-up (right). A scrap piece, left over from the bandsawing of the legs, is used as a caul.

Gluing up the pedestal-Assembling the legs and filler blocks to form the pedestal is a little tricky because there are so many pieces. To make glue-up easier, I do the job in three stages: First, gluing two legs to a filler block; then gluing two filler blocks to the third leg; and finally, gluing these two assemblies together (see the photos above). Two simple clamping fixtures make the job go smoothly. First 1 place two legs on a 12-in.-sq. piece of Vi-in.-thick plywood, inside edge to inside edge (separated by about '/k. in.) and resting on the 30° angled surface. Double-face tape acts like a third hand to hold the legs temporarily in place. Then I fit a filler block between the legs and adjust the position of the legs until the four angled surfaces mate cleanly along their length. Butting three blocks of scrap along the outside edge of each leg and screwing the blocks to the plywood prevents the legs from slipping laterally when gluing pressure is applied to the filler block. The pressure on the filler block will also tend to squeeze the legs up and out of the jig, so it's a good idea to hold the legs down w ith a piece of scrapwood spanning the legs and screwed to the middle, butting edge blocks. Waxed paper under the legs prevents glue squeeze-out from sticking to the plywood and a clamp at each end of the fixture insures uniform pressure is applied to the filler block.

Follow a similar procedure to fashion a fixture for gluing up the two filler blocks to the third leg. Position the blocks edge to edge (the edges with the flat tips) on the plywood, separated by about '/16 in. Fit the third leg between the filler blocks and make any necessary adjustments as before. Screwing scrap pieces to the plywood along the outside edges of each tiller block prevents sideways slippage. I use waxed paper again to eliminate problems with glue squeeze-out. and clamp the leg in position. Scrap pieces, left over from bandsawing the legs, are placed under the clamp and distribute the gluing pressure evenly.

When these subassemblies have dried, I then joint their mating faces-just enough to produce a good, flat gluing surface. To prevent the pieces from sliding out of alignment during glue-up, I use two '/2-in.-long dowels (Vk. in. in diameter) inserted into the face of the surfaces being glued; small brads (with the heads nipped off) will work as well. Again, cauls, fashioned from scrap pieces I saved when the legs were bandsawn, help position the gluing clamps and distribute the pressure.

All that remains to complete the pedestal is to shape the filler blocks, adjust the pedestal so it will be plumb to the floor and true up its top. I tlo most of the shaping on the filler blocks with a shopmade round-bottom plane, but you can also do the job with a carving chisel, scraper and sandpaper. I aim for a shape that is pleasing to the eye and smooth to the touch. After the shaping is completed, place the table base on a large, flat surface and use a framing square, held against the outside surface of each filler block, to see if the pedestal is plumb. If the pedestal touches the square at its top end but there is a gap at the bottom between it and the filler block, you'll need to trim a bit off the bottom of the leg directly opposite that filler block. Work from filler block to filler block, trimming the appropriate leg a little bit at a time, until the square contacts each filler block along its entire length.

When the pedestal is plumb, place a large, flat piece of plywood on the pedestal's top and measure the distance from the plywood to the floor. Trim the top of the pedestal gradually until the distance to the floor is the same all around. A small auto-bodv grinder with a medium-grit disc does the trimming quickly.

Finishing up-The rest of the table is straightforward. Make the cleat from V»-in.-thick stock, form the beveled ends with a hand-plane and round all of its exposed edges. The cleat supports the table's top and holds it in position with four screws. Cut elongated holes, Vi6 in. wide by Va in. long, in the cleat for these screws, to allow for seasonal expansion and contraction of the top; a fifth screw, near the pedestal, keeps it centered. The grain of the cleat will be oriented perpendicular to the grain of the top. so the elongated holes should be cut parallel to the cleat's long dimension. Position the cleat on the top of the pedestal and drill a Vie-in.-dia. pilot hole through the cleat into the top of each leg for three 2-in. #<S screws.

In keeping with the simple lines of the piece, the table's top is circular and bandsawn to 20 in. in diameter from Win.-thick stock. Use a file and sandpaper to gently round the edges. Position the cleat on the underside of the top and use the elongated holes to mark the location for the screws. Drill pilot holes for the four screws that will fasten the top to the cleat.

Before assembling the table, sand it and apply the finish. I French-polished the table shown on page 27; a traditional oil finish would also work well. This table has a distinctly modern look, but its relation to the Shaker classic is evident. The blend of modern and traditional styles is one of my primary goals as a furniture designer.

Mac Campbell operates Custom Woodworking in Harvey Station. N.B., Canada, specializing in furniture design and construction.

Making a Hepplewhite Card Table

Recapturing an essential delicacy by Eugene E. Landon

In the restoration and repair of antiques, I sometimes make faithful reproductions of the best that enter my shop. Recently, I had the chance to work on an 18th-century card table, and I copied it for my own home. Unlike today's card tables, most of which are so ugly that they hide in closets during the day, these antique tables have nothing to be ashamed of—they fold in half, so that they can double as handsome hall or end tables. Judging from the many antique gaming tables that have survived, gambling must have been one of early America's passions. The craze lasted from at least the Queen Anne period through the Federal, and table styles ranged from simple country designs to some of the most elaborate and sophisticated of the time. Depending on the period, you can find extensive carving and inlay. Some pieces have dishes carved into the tops for chips, and recesses carved at the corners for candle stands.

The design reproduced here, called a D-shaped card table because of the profile of its top, is a pure, conservative example of the Hepplewhite period, circa 1790. It relies on pristine lines, subtle inlay and figured mahogany veneer to elevate it above the ordinary. Its top and legs are solid mahogany, the hinged rail is walnut, and the rest is white pine. The front rail is veneered with fancy crotch grain, and the sides and curved parts are straight-grain veneer. Similar tables might have been made anywhere along the Atlantic seaboard from Boston to Charleston, but I suspect that this one came from Philadelphia. The family it belongs to has a long Philadelphia history, and the table's secondary woods are just right for that city. Farther north, you would expect maple or cherry instead of walnut; farther south, you'd see some yellow pine.

When it came into my shop, the table stood tremulously, on the verge of falling into pieces. A delicate design to begin with, over the years its cross-grain construction had taken a toll—wood movement in the brick-stacked curved rails had broken loose about half the veneer, and all the glue blocks at the top of the legs had loosened. Somebody had tried to repair them with nails, but the legs require a glue joint at these blocks for strength and were, consequently, very shaky. Even the glue between the stacked bricks had failed—with every change in humidity, each layer had strained at 90° to the next.

With so much glue failure, I had no option but to dismantle the table down to its last piece and then rebuild it completely. Such an experience is a rare privilege for any cabinet-

Gene Umelon. of Montoursiille. l'enn.. irrites about "Making the Chippendale Chair" on pages 102-109-

maker. It gave me the opportunity to make a reproduction that duplicated the table exactly, even to the hidden toothing-plane marks left by the original cabinetmaker nearly two hundred years ago.

You might ask what steps I took to counteract the cross-grain joinery that had caused the problems in the original table. For my table, none. The drawing on p. 32 shows a stabler way to stack bricks, however. In this method, the bricks are not at 90°, but are laid up to form a gradual curve around the corner, so that both ends are entirely long grain, and so that the grain in all the layers runs in the same direction. You could employ this method in your copy, but if you do, you won't be making a true reproduction. I've never seen an 18th-century American table made this way, although some French bureaus of the same period have this construction. You would be making merely a modern adaptation of an 18th-century design, and in my opinion you would be making a mistake. The table's fugitive delicacy is essential to its nature; my advice is, don't try to change it. In my mind, the real reward in creating this table is that perhaps in rwo hundred years someone like me will come along, take my gracefully aged copy entirely apart, and get as much enjoyment from the job as I did.

For the same reason, I use hide glue in my work. A modern glue may seem to have some "advantages," such as a stronger bond and more moisture resistance, but these qualities, in the long run, may not be real advantages at all, especially in period construction. Wood movement will inevitably open any joint, and a hide-glued joint is fairly easy to disassemble, repair and reglue. Not so with some of the modern glues. With these, instead of finding failure limited to within a joint, you'll often find the part itself failing—a split leg instead of just a loose tenon, for example.

If reconstructed faithfully, the table will require many skills of the 18th-century cabinetmaker. Take a look at the interesting joinery shown in the back corner detail on the facing page. There are, in effect, two back rails, one inside the other. The outer rail is hinged so that one leg can pivot out to support the unfolded tabletop. The inner rail is permanently joined to the rest of the understructure. The back legs are mortised and tenoned to the hinged rail. Sawing the tenons on this rail will be one of the last steps in the construction—the shoulders determine how far apart the back legs are and how well they fit the frame. The stationary part of the hinged rail is glued and screwed to the inner rail, and the moving arm is relieved on its top surface so as not to scrape the underside of the table-

Photo: The Terry Wild Studio

Hand Carve Queen Anne Leg Without Lathe

D-shaped Hepplewhite card table

Tabletop plan

Top overhangs V* in. on back and sides, 3A in. along front and curved rails.

Front leg assembly

5Vi-in radius

Intermediate rail

Glue blocks

Line of frame


Intermediate rail

Inner back rail Screw / ^ notch

Curved side rail

Intermediate rail

Wooden hinge Relief

Hinged back rail

Wooden hinge detail


plus veneer

Veneer end.

Straight side rail

Hinged back rail

Curved side rail

Back corner detail v

Inner back rail detail ,

Hinged rail

3/ie-in. square mortise

Intermediate rail \

Rabbet for leg.

Notch forO\>

Inlay detail

Drawing laiui> M Bassicr

2. Bandsaw, then use waste blocks as veneering and clamping cauls.

How to make a curved rail 3. Veneer, then cut tenon.

1. Laminate boards to form blank.


Another method

4. Remove veneer on lap-joint and tenon areas.

How to make a curved rail 3. Veneer, then cut tenon.

  1. Laminate boards to form blank.
  2. Bandsaw, then use waste blocks as veneering and clamping cauls.


Seasonal wood movement broke up the table's original curved rails, which were sawn from a cross-grained blank in the traditional way, at left. A stabler method is to align the grain with the curve, as below.

Drawing: Louis M. Biisslcr top. The cabinetmaker attached the inner rail to the side rails with half-blind dovetails.

Two intermediate rails extend back from the front legs and are through-tenoned to the inner back rail. These add rigidity to the frame, but, more important, they provide a bearing surface for the rubbed-on glue blocks, which are essential for strength in the front legs.

To make the table, first bandsaw the tapers on the legs and plane them smooth. Mahogany often tears out unexpectedly when being planed. There was a little tearout on the original table, in fact, and the maker had carefully oriented the best sides of the legs forward to hide it.

The leg inlay is %-in. wide maple strips, sawn and hand-planed to a little less than '/¡6-in. thickness, mitered at the corners and then glued edge-down into narrow grooves. In 1790, the cabinetmaker probably had a special grooving tool, for he would have done a lot of inlaying. It was like a mortising gauge with sharp cutters. When run along the side of the leg, it cut the two sides of the groove, and a built-in chisel removed the waste. You can still buy such inlay cutters from many tool suppliers, but I make the equivalent from two razor blades clamped together with a metal washer as a spacer. The blades are so thin that they tend to follow the grain of the wood instead of cutting straight. So I first cut one edge of the groove with a sharp marking gauge, then I use that line and a straightedge to stabilize the razor blades when I cut the groove. It's best to make several shallow passes to achieve the full depth of about Vie in. Then clear the waste with a very narrow chisel. Note in the drawing on p. 31 that some surfaces are left plain, and that the additional inlay strip across the top of each leg is a little wider than the rest. After chiseling the waste, apply glue to the groove, not to the inlay, and be sure that the strip is higher than the surface of the leg so it can be pared and smoothed flush after the glue has dried.

The front rail must be perfectly flush with the front face of the legs, so veneer the rail before you mark out and cut the tenons. This not only makes it easier to get a clean shoulder cut through the veneer, but it also allows you to mark both the mortise and the tenon using a single gauge setting. Lay out the tenon-shoulder cuts with a knife, saw the shoulders, then relief-cut them slightly with a chisel to ensure snug surface joints. As was standard 18th-century practice, the backs of the rails in this table are not veneered. Mark out and cut the intermediate rails now, too.

Next glue up the brick stacks for the curved side rails in four layers, as shown above. The grain in the two center layers runs in the same direction, which allows the tenon to be long grain. At the other end of the rail, the top and bottom layers

Drawing: Louis M. Biisslcr provide long grain for the lap joint. Bandsaw the shape and save the waste pieces from each side. They will later come in handy as clamping blocks when gluing up the frame, and right now you can use them as cauls for veneering. Shape the outside of the waste so you can clamp it to the workpiece, then dry-clamp with the veneer in place to test the fit. The bandsaw kerf is probably about the right width to accommodate the veneer thickness and allow even pressure. If not, pad the gap with layers of newspaper or with a thin rubber sheet.

After veneering, make the tenon's front shoulder by simply knifing through the veneer and splitting it off the tenon. This shoulder obviously doesn't provide any strength, but it does cover the edge of the mortise and conceal any irregularities. The original table's mortise was so cleanly cut that even today's '/¿g-in. veneer was sufficiently thick to do the job.

The veneer at the lap joint will also be cut away, because if it's left in the joint, it's just another glueline that can eventually fail. But don't cut away this veneer until you're ready to glue up the frame—the precise position of the cut depends on how much the straight and curved rails overlap.

Make the straight side rails, and veneer their outer faces and front ends. Cut the inner back rail and chop the through mortises in it, two for each intermediate rail. Cut the dovetails, saw the rabbets for the back legs and notch the legs to fit.

Gluing up is best done in stages. On a flat surface, clamp up the two front legs to the front rail, and add the intermediate rails and the inner back rail, wedging the through tenons. Check for squareness and allow this subassembly to dry. Next glue and screw the lap joint between the straight and curved side rails, and add them to the main frame. Then rub the glue blocks into place.

Now make the wooden hinge, as explained on the facing page. Carefully fit the back legs to the back rail, paring the shoulders on the tenons until the legs fit tight in their rabbets. Then attach the assembly with glue and screws.

On your table, determine the profile of the top pieces according to the outline of the frame. The original top was screwed on and hinged as shown. Hinges are available from Horton Brasses, Nooks Hill Rd., Cromwell, Conn. 06416.

The original table had a French-polish finish, which I was able to refresh with a few more thin coats of rubbed shellac. I tried to duplicate the effect on my reproduction, but it will require some time to achieve the old table's glowing patina.

Many old gaming tables have warped tops from standing closed too long—moisture can't escape easily from between the folded leaves. So give your table a chance to stretch its legs and spread its wings once in a while. Besides, it's a good excuse to invite the neighbors over for a game of cards. □

32 The Best of Fine Woodworking

From Fine Wtxxlmjrking magazine (July 198-1 )

An 18th-century wooden hinge

A few years ago, a collector showed me a Pembroke table for which he'd just paid $6,000. At that price, it was a steal—a relatively rare design in excellent condition, easily worth several times the price. I'd done some restoration for him previously, at a handsome fee. But in this case he wanted me merely to authenticate the table's age, for it didn't need any work. I suspect that he also wanted to gloat a little over his good fortune.

Well, the drawer was old. But several other things made me suspicious. The drawer runners, for instance, were hardly worn. When I showed him this, the owner said that maybe nobody had ever used the drawer much. When 1 pointed out that the finish was too good to be original and too bad to be a restoration—unless somebody was trying to fake it—he hemmed and hawed and said it looked all right to him. When I saw that the cross-grain glue blocks were all still tight, I knew that somebody had been working on the table recently, and had gone to considerable trouble to dirty things up afterward. The collector began to sweat a little.

But the final proof was the wooden hinge for the back leg. It was nothing an 18th-century cabinetmaker had ever laid a hand to. A good hinge shows no gaps anywhere, and this one didn't even stop at 90°! The man who had faked that table obviously had never seen an 18th-century hinge, had never studied the old scribe marks to see how to lay one out, had never taken one apart to see how it was made. The table was a steal all right. I doubt that it was as old as I am, and I'm no antique.

To his credit, instead of asking me to right the wrongs, the collector quickly disassociated himself from the table, selling it "as is" at the next auction. It brought $3,000, which is about what you would expect for an outwardly handsome reproduction with an old drawer in it. The collector wasn't entirely happy with the way things turned out, but at least he'd learned something. He wouldn't jump so quickly at future bargains, and he'd know an 18th-century hinge the next time he saw one.

Ironically, such a hinge isn't at all difficult to make, not if you follow the method used in the old days. The drawings at right show how it's done, step by step. I'll caution you about only one thing: When you pick up your chisel to round the knuckles, first shave some hair off the back of your hand for luck. If your chisel won't shave, step over to your sharpening stones. —E.L.

Fig. 2: Chisel the profile

When rounding knuckles, keep bevel up so back of chisel can ride along wood for control. True outer curve with a file, then chisel stop at 45° and fair knuckle profile down to it.

Knuckle divisions

Knuckle profile

Baseline of stop

Front shoulder line

Back shoulder line is tangent to circle.

Depth of sawcuts between front and back shoulder lines

The 45 miters stop hinge at 90°

45° stop line Stock thickness line

With a marking gauge and compass, scribe layout lines as shown, and mark waste areas.

Fig. 2: Chisel the profile

When rounding knuckles, keep bevel up so back of chisel can ride along wood for control. True outer curve with a file, then chisel stop at 45° and fair knuckle profile down to it.

Sawcuts to shoulder lines

Transfer waste marks as you cut them away. Chisel and file to scribed profile.

Fig. 3: Remove the waste

Chop out center space in steps. This surface needn't be rounded—it won't show in finished hinge. Don't cut into baseline of stop—it must be a straight line from one edge to the other, or a gap will show in assembled hinge.

Saw waste; pare end profile with a #7 carving gouge.

Baseline of stop

Fig. 4: Assemble the hinge

Drive hinge together with a rubber hammer, then drill a 3Ae-in. dia. hole for pin. Some period pins were wood, some were metal. File any high spots that show up on back of hinge when it's flexed.


^ouriesy Hâs/îtngton & $ee t/n/versfy, Jr/kjQeeVes$o//ecÙon. gkxtngton, Urg/nta

Roy Carlyle

Photo below: Roy Early; other photos: Carlyle Lyi


^ouriesy Hâs/îtngton & $ee t/n/versfy, Jr/kjQeeVes$o//ecÙon. gkxtngton, Urg/nta

Photo below: Roy Early; other photos: Carlyle Lyi

Lynch's delicate brandy stand, above, is a reproduction of an original pair, probably used as urn stands, from The Reeves Collection at Washington and Lee University.

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