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18th Century Dressing Table
Building A 18th Century Dressing
One of my personal favorite styles of furniture is that done in the period of the 18th
century. The beauty and grace of it is the very reason it is still a popular style even today. It is one of the
most challenging styles in woodworking.
I believe the combination of the incredible understanding of proportion, and the realization of the
conditions these men were working under, just adds to my amazement of it. I am quite certain if I had to work
under those conditions, I would have done something else. It just sounds like hard work.
Since I had a client that appreciated this style of furniture, and also wanted a dressing table, I
figured the opportunity had arrived. None of my previous clients ordered anything from that time period. Her
only request was that it had ball and claw feet. (or as she put it, those kind of feet).
I drew a quick sketch and faxed it over to her. Within minutes she called me, and gave me the
A major concern to me was I had never attempted to carve "those kind of feet" before. I really
didn't have any carving experience to draw from. As it turns, if done in a methodical order, out it really
wasn't that difficult, and I rather enjoyed it. Making eight legs that matched was a little intimidating, but
that too was a matter of carving them all in stages, as opposed to finishing one and starting another. This way,
each leg is getting the same procedure, in the same order.
Another challenge in this project was breaking the rules about using wide boards. This too, has a
solution, which I learned from Jeffrey P. Greene's book, "American Furniture of the 18th Century". For anyone
interested in this style, I highly recommend this book. The entire time I was working on the dressing table, the
book was by my side for reference.
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