Nancy Hiller has been profiling woodworkers in a series of posts at Lost Art Press and recently interviewed Fine Woodworking’s Anissa Kapsales. I enjoyed the whole article, but what really caught my eye was the cover image from FW August 2019 featuring Kapsales’ take on a design by Poul Cadovius. It was almost enough to tempt me to pick up a recent copy of the magazine archive (mine runs through 2011) which has been on sale, but a look at finewoodworking.com showed they have the article available for free download. The design foregoes metal shelf standards (used in my favorite wall unit by Finn Juhl) in favor of drilled posts, an approach perhaps more amenable (if unforgiving) to the home shop.
I spotted this Mid-Century modern dresser at thrift store in Saugerties, New York. It features a mitered plywood case overhanging a leg-and-aprons base. Though the white knobs create a jarring effect, the design and build feature some thoughtful details. The grain runs continuously across the drawer fronts in each row, with the top narrower than those below. The heavy, curved molding breaks the facade, and the mitered divider creates more visual interest than would a divider meeting the outer frame in a simple straight line. The faceted leg offers an interesting alternative to a turned or straight leg, with the curved ends of the long apron providing a subtle counterpoint to the strong horizontal lines of the case.
Construction seems straightforward, with a mitered case and mortise-and-tenoned base. Care in execution and subtle details elevate what might otherwise be an uninteresting design, which is an important reminder about the cumulative effect a series of small details has on a finished work. I would still use different pulls if I were reproducing the design.
I find the minimalist design quite appealing–I especially like the effect of the floating top and the juxtaposition of sharp angles and smooth curves. I’ve built it with a plywood top to be historically accurate, (that’s the approach documented on video, too), but I think there’s enough play in the metal pegs joining base and top that movement of a solid top wouldn’t be too much of a problem. I think a solid, vertical grain fur top over a cherry base could look good.
If you prefer your woodworking instruction via the printed word, this Juhl-inspired coffee table is also one of the step-by-step projects featured in Mid-Century Modern Furniture.
I spent the first week of January at the Popular Woodworking shop to shoot a couple of videos. The first, Building Techniques in Mid-Century Modern Furniture, is now available on shopwoodworking.com.
To help promote the launch of the video, I wrote “Five Lessons from Mid-Century Modern Furniture” for the PWM shop blog.
The AV Club recently featured an article on what it’s like to be a production designer. The interview subject, Michael Wylie, designed the sets for Masters of Sex. There’s not much on Mid-Century, but it was interesting to read about how Wylie used production design to help establish the personalities of Ben Masters and Virginia Johnson. In Johnsons’ case, the austere Mid-Century decor reflects a repressed personality.
The October 2015 issue of Popular Woodworking Magazine features my article on building an open-backed book case (it also works as a room divider) in the Mid-Century Modern style. I’ve detailed parts of the build on 1910 Craftsman, but the article goes into depth on step-by-step construction. I’m in good company in this issue–I enjoyed Jeff Miller’s article on the slat-back chair and am sorely tempted by Lee Valley’s new trammel points.
You can read the introduction to my article on the issue index or order a copy from shopwoodwhorking.com. This case is one of 29 designs featured in my book Mid-Century Modern Furniture, which is available on Amazon and shopWoodworking.com.
This Danish Modern coffee table caught my eye while I waited in line to ship a package today. Especially interesting to me are the V-shaped trestle legs and the front on the suspended drawer. The drawer front features a basket weave pattern I don’t think I’ve seen before.
Amazon now has a listing for my forthcoming book, Mid-Century Modern Furniture. While I’ve seen the insides of the book in their laid-out glory, this was my first look at the cover. I like it. You can click through to preview the table of contents and introduction on Amazon. In addition to dimensioned drawings, the book includes a historical overview of the period and step-by-step builds of variations on a coffee table by Finn Juhl and book case by Børge Mogensen. Selecting the pieces was a bit of challenge since my intent was to include interesting designs that could be recreated in the home shop, a constraints which eliminated a lot of fine work that relied on industrial processes for construction.
Mid-Century Modern Furniture is due out in June.