Tag Archives: 2012

Limbert No. 367 Book Case–Construction

This partial pattern contains all the elements of the case sides without the bulk entailed by a full-sized pattern. It also allows the creation of sides of different heights.

This partial pattern contains all the elements of the case sides without the bulk entailed by a full-sized pattern. It also allows the creation of sides of different heights.

Building the No. 367 is straightforward proposition. Dadoes capture the shelf ends and join the case together while the gallery back helps things square. I made a few modifications to the design, altering the depth from 12″ to 11.25″ to use 1″ x 12″ material, and narrowing the case from 30″ to 24″ since I thought it looked better. I also substituted a shiplapped back for the original’s panel. Having decided on a milk painted finish, I chose pine instead of the fumed white oak used in the original. Continue reading

Limbert No. 367 Book Case–Design

Limbert 367 book case

Charles Limbert’s No. 367 book case.

If I were a historian of material culture, I might contemplate the staggering variety of book storage marketed in the early part of the 20th Century and its relationship to an expanding middle class and the rise of mass media. Advancements in printing technology made more books, magazines, and music available to more people, and they could store this material on magazine stands, book racks, book shelves, book cases, etc. Limbert’s Fall 1905 catalogue featured 34 such pieces, from a $4.50 magazine stand to a $54 case with three leaded glass doors. Continue reading

Trestle Table–Construction

Soft maple boards cut to rough length for the top.

Soft maple boards cut to rough length for the top.

Using wide boards minimized glue up, but it also required flattening them by hand. Fortunately
they were in good shape and were ready for glue before too long. While the top dried, I turned my attention to the trestle ends. I began by shaping the patterns for the feet and caps of the trestle ends. Before shaping those parts, though, I cut the mortises for the through tenons using a guide bushing and pattern. I had originally planned on using sliding dovetails to attach the top to the base, but after a couple of disastrous attempts  to rout the dovetails, I decided to use screws instead.

Pattern routing  trestle ends.

Pattern routing trestle ends.

The end posts were tenoned and mortised before shaping as well. With the curved tapers cut and smoothed, the ends were ready for glue. With the tenons wedged tight and glue drying I could return my attention to the top. Gently curves add some subtle visual interest to the top. I roguhed these out with a jigsaw, then planed them smooth, but it would have been easier to simply plane the curves on the long edges. As it was, the jig saw wandered a bit in the cut, and I had to use a chamfer along the bottom edge instead of a roundover on the the top and bottom edges.

The stretcher proved too long to tenon on the table saw, so I cut close on the bandsaw and fine tuned the fit by hand. Cutting the angled mortises for the wedges was probably the most difficult aspect of construction, but the wedges add a nice detail as well as allowing the base to be knocked down for transport. I cut the wedges on the bandsaw and fit each one to its mortise, then sanded all parts through 220 grit before applying several coats of orange shellac. Since a dining table is likely to see some abuse as well as exposure to water and alcohol, I topcoated the shellac with polyurethane.

In retrospect, I’m sorry I couldn’t get those sliding dovetails cut. They’re a more elegant solution to attaching the top to the base than screws. And while the shellac warmed the soft maple nicely, I’m curious to see what a little dye in the mix would have yielded.


Trestle Table–Design

trestleTableSketchI’ve wanted to build a trestle table for some time–the economy of materials and ability to radically alter a design by modifying a few details make it an interesting project–but I didn’t need a new dining table, so I didn’t pursue the project. When some friends moved into a their new house and needed a new table, I jumped at the chance to build a piece.

While I had free reign over the design, I wanted to build something that would make them both happy, a slight challenge since his taste tends to Danish modern and hers to traditional. Checking my library showed a surprising amount of variation in design. Changes to the trestle ends, position of the beam, and slight alterations to the top can make the piece medieval, Shaker, or modern. In the end, I opted to modify a design by Gary Rogowski. The updated Arts & Crafts look would strike a balance between tastes. I preserved the slight curves to the top and the keyed through mortise on the beam, then altered the length and width of the design and changed the shape of the trestle slightly, opting for concave curves in the tapered post and feet. Width and length of the top were determined by the boards available for the top. Final dimensions were 29″ h x 29.5″ w x 78″ l.

More Information

  • Gary Rogowski’s original design from Fine Woodworking #214
  • Kenneth Rower has a very useful article on trestle table design in Fine Woodworking #42.

Limbert No. 81 Hall Chair–Construction

The No. 81 Hall Chair.

The No. 81 Hall Chair.

The original design was executed in quartersawn white oak. Because I wasn’t sure I wanted to keep the chair, I chose common pine to create a prototype. Building the prototype afforded the opportunity to  verify my drawings and practice construction, then live with the chair for a while before deciding whether I liked it enough to build a final copy in another wood.

Construction began with gluing up the blanks that would form the seat, sides, and back. The notch at back of the seat is beveled to match the slope of the chair back and to fit the back’s sloping sides. I could have cut things square using a jigsaw or bandsaw, then beveled the notch with chisel and block plane. Instead, I assembled the blank from three pieces, two narrow ones surrounding a middle piece sized to the width of the back where it met the seat. I cut a bevel on that middle piece before assembly, then glued up the blank. While the blanks dried, I cut the apron and stretcher to size.

With the blanks out of the clamps, I laid out the shape of the back and cut close to my layout lines on the bandsaw, then planed things to final size with my No. 7 jointer. To produce the cutout, I drilled out the radiused corners and sawed out the waste with a jigsaw. That approach left a lot of cleanup with rasp and block plane. In retrospect, it would have been a lot easier to throw together a quick template to guide a router.

And that’s the approach I took for the cutouts on the sides after cutting the blanks to final size. The ends need to be beveled to 5 degrees to create the appropriate slope, which I cut on with the table saw set to the appropriate angle. The notch on the base was cut on the bandsaw. After roughing out the cutouts, I attached my template (four pieces of scrap held together with pocket screws), and routed the final shape of the cutouts.

Since I was using a pretty nondescript board, I decided on a finish of black milk paint. I sanded to 180 grit then used a foam roller to apply three coats, lightly sanding with 220 between the first and second coats to remove raised grain. Once the paint was dry, I was ready for assembly.

Like much of Limbert’s slab-sided furniture, the No. 81 was probably dowelled together. Dowels offered an economical way to join angled pieces together in a production environment. For the prototype, I used pocket hole screws. It’s a less-than-ideal joint for something like a chair that can see a lot of abuse, but they let me get the prototype together quickly. I drilled my holes, clamped the sides to the aprons using angled clamping blocks, and screwed the base together. Then I attached the seat followed by the back. On the original chair, the back was screwed to the edge of the seat and to the bottom stretcher and the screw holes plugged with oak buttons. I screwed the back on and plugged the holes, then cut the plugs flush. After some touch up paint around the plugs, I wiped on a couple of coats of boiled linseed oil and some dark paste wax.

The finished chair seems smaller in person, slightly unassuming for such an iconic design. And it’s not especially comfortable (I sometimes cynically wonder if that is intentional, a design meant to hurry guests in or out of the entry way). Rendered in black and divorced from the quartersawn white oak that characterized most Arts & Crafts furniture, it also seems curiously timeless. The lack of color highlights the accomplished use of positive and negative space and the dynamic intersection of angles. In fumed oak, it’s at place in the Arts & Crafts home, but done in maple or teak and it could pass for Danish modern. In black or white, it could pass in an industrial loft. I still haven’t decided if I’ll do a final copy, and if I do, it will be hard to choose what wood and finish to use to give it its character.

Limbert No. 81 Hall Chair–Design

Sketch for Limbert's No. 81  Hall Chair

Sketch for Limbert’s No. 81 Hall ChairThe splayed slab sides and cutouts make the No. 81 hall chair one of Limbert’s most distinctive designs. It featured in several of the company’s booklets during the height of the its Arts & Crafts Production (c. 1905-1912).

Since I’m producing as close a copy as I can in this instance, there are no design requirements to consider. To recreate the chair, I started from known dimensions (45″ h x 14″ w  x 17″ d) and catalog photos, lofting dimensions to determine the measurements for the parts. Having determined dimensions, I created a 3D model in SketchUp. For some projects I’m content to draw a rough design on paper, but a full-sized computer model can show how parts relate to each other. It’s also useful for creating patterns and visualizing how parts fit together, a useful capability when dealing with unusual angles and intersections at play in the hall chair.