Monday, April 2, 2018

Stickley sideboard

I have always been an admirer of Stickley furniture, in part because of the style and in part because it was made near Syracuse, NY, close to where I grew up and went to college.  In case you are not familiar with him, he was a leading proponent of American craftsman furniture, an offshoot of the British arts and crafts movement.  Inspired by Harvey Ellis, his later efforts evolved into very graceful, lighter designs incorporating curves and tapers.  There is a copy of the Stickley 1909 catalog online that contains hundreds of his pieces.  They are timeless classics of American design.

I have wanted to make one of his pieces for some time and, although I like many of them, have been particularly attracted to his sideboards.  I especially admire the #802, which you can see on page 67 of the 1909 catalog.  Arts and crafts furniture can be somewhat severe but the graceful curve on the lower stretcher and the taper in the legs makes it much more attractive in my opinion.  This style is what I like.  Nothing is extraneous, it is free of embellishment, it celebrates functionality.

Chris Schwarz made one for a Popular Woodworking article some years ago and the magazine has made free plans available.  Although he made his in cherry, I decided to make mine from white oak, which is traditional.

I don't often work closely to plans but this will be an exception and I am going about it differently than I usually do.  The first thing I did was glue up and cut all the pieces in the cutlist to near final dimensions and do all but final smoothing.  Cutting every component to near final dimensions upfront goes against the idea of measuring as little as possible and getting dimensions wherever possible from the workpiece itself, although not entirely.  I tried to make up for it by ensuring that all of the pieces that need to be the same length or width are.  If this works, it will definitely be a lot more efficient.

This is all rift-sawn white oak, which results in a particularly nice appearance for the legs.

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