Wednesday, August 13, 2014

New England Highboy

The first step I have chosen to take in building this highboy is to carve the two drawer fronts with shells.  After I am satisfied with them, I will build the bottom carcass then build the top carcass and finish by fitting the piece with all of its drawers. 

Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Staniforth house and the innerconnections between time and family in a small southern town

In this picture are three of the things I have built of which I am most proud, but possibly that isn't where this story should begin.  Part of the reason why I have chosen to remain in my hometown of Natchez, Mississippi is that I can't shake my sense of place.  Natchez is my home.  It is in my bones.  As a teenager it always fascinated me, as it does to this day, that I could walk in any building downtown and even homes throughout the region and know that my parents have been there before me and their parents before them for several generations..It makes me feel like a part of the fabric of the place where I live.  This is where the Staniforth House comes in.  While I was growing up I admired the brick house on Rankin street that was run down and uninhabited.  Some friends and I even went in one time to look around since the door was wide open, but it wasn't until years later that my mother would tell me that one of my ancestors had built that house.  Having an interest in history and architecture, that piqued my interest in it but not enough to really pay much more attention to it until I received a call from a local contractor asking me if I would be interested in building kitchen cabinets.  "Kitchen cabinets aren't really my thing" I told him but after he told me where they would go I got more interested.  You see, he was doing the restoration work on that same house, the house I had always been interested in that Mama told me some ancestor had built.  After meeting the contractor there, walking through the house and seeing all that the new owners were doing, there was no question that I wanted to be a part of the project even though " kitchen cabinets aren't really my thing".  I accepted the job and got to building the cabinets but while I was in that process, I also got to know the new owners and we often talked about what they were doing.  While helping with the paint, one of them uncovered the original paint job in the dining room which consisted of multicolored boxes painted to look like paneled wallpaper.  when they found that, they had to recreate it so they hired a local painter to recreate the original colors which are also shown in the picture above. Since their dining room was being set apart from the rest of the house, they decided they needed a special dining table to go with it so we started talking about designs for period reproduction of a three part table for the room.  It was about that time that the electrician had to go under the house to do some electrical work and brought out from under the house several furniture parts, one of which was an 1830's table leg.  When I saw that, it became clear to me what the legs should look like on their new table so I copied it twelve times to produce the table that is in that room today.  While still in the process of building their table, they began talking about wanting a pair of bookcases, so I did some research and made some drawings to show them and came up with a design for a pair of cherry bookcases with glass doors that I installed in a sitting room adjoining the dining room.  Once the dining table was installed, they started looking for chandeliers and were having trouble finding one they really liked but were enamored of a fixture hanging on the back porch of a local mansion.  When they showed me the picture, I imediately knew where the fixture was hanging and told them I had always admired it and I could build it for them if they wanted.  Well, that began my foray into lignting.  It really was a fun project.  It is a simple fixture that replicates a billiards gasolier.  It has only four arms and is painted steel where the original is cast bronze, but the one I built has brass ornaments very similar to the original and is complete with etched glass globes. 

This was without a doubt a very fulfilling project for me for a number of reason.  I had the opportunity to build some beautiful furniture and even get into iron work, but once again it fascinates me how connected we are in this little town.  You see, Thomas Staniforth, my ancestor who built that house didn't just live there.  he litterally built it.  He was a contractor and he used his home as his showplace for potential customers to see what all he could do.  Each room is different with different millwork and different paint schemes.  I relate so well to this because I do the same thing 170 years later.  I don't build houses, but I do build furniture and I do use my home as my showroom because it is filled with furniture I have built.  It was William Faulkner who said "The past isn't dead.  It isn't even past."

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

This wardrobe is built along the lines of an early empire armoire but is made of antique cypress with paneled doors, a cove molded cornice and turned feet.

This is a reproduction of a Louisiana refectory table.  It is made of antique sinker cypress and finished with hand rubbed shellac.

King size bed

This bed was inspired by a bed at Mt. Vernon.  When building a king size bed, I like to supply a platform on which to place the mattress without using a box spring.  I also build it with a center support and two center legs to brace the middle of the bed.

Louisiana low post beds

This pair of beds was built on the design of a Louisiana low post bed I am familiar with.  The original is cherry while these are made of mahogany.

bookcase- desk

I built this desk for a local client to fill a particular space.  The solid door to the right hides a printer and other necessary mechanics, the center drawer pulls out and hinges in order to be used for a computer keyboard.  There are also adjustable shelves in the upper cabinet to hold books behind brass wire.  It is made of cherry and crotch mahogany veneer.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Chival mirror

 My job is one that allows me to wake up and do something different every day.  When a client brought me this chival mirror, the job was simple enough.  Fix the foot, wax it and deliver it.  As is usually the case with antiques, it wasn't that simple.  The mirror of this particular piece is counter weighted so that it can be raised up and down as required by the user to see what needs to be seen from different angles, but when I tried to raise the mirror, it wouldn't budge so I laid it down on its back and began to investigate.  Three hours later, I finally got the lead weights out of the supports and found that they had corrupted and expanded within the cavities of the supports thence disallowing them to move.  It was at this point that I began the process of learning how to melt and cast lead.  Really, there is nothing to it.  Lead melts at a very low heat, after it melts, there is a slag that must be skimmed off the top and then it is poured into a mold.  Like I say, nothing to it, but for someone who has never poured molten metal, it is slightly scary.  I made a mold using Durhams Rock Hard putty, bought a cast iron skillet to use for a crucible, set up my fish cooker in the yard and got to work.  At first I wasn't sure it was going to work.  After breaking up the original lead weights and placing the parts in the skillet, they just sat there as the flames heated my now tainted iron skillet, but sort of all at the same time, the lead just began to turn to liquid and then it only took a minute or so for it to all turn to a pot of shiny melted metal.  At that point, I skimmed off the slag, and as they say, the rest is history.  I let the metal cool for the rest of the day and then broke the mold the next day and shaved down the irregularities as shown in these pictures, then I drilled holes in the top of each weight, strung sash cord, attached them to the mirror and voila!  It was done.  

There is always something new and interesting to learn in this business.  

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Hepplewhite Ice Chest

This Hepplewhite mahogany box with crotch mahogany inlay is made to resemble a period cellarette and is fitted in a similar manner in that it has a metal box insert, but it is also fitted with insulation and a plastic liner so that it can be used in the house as a cooler for bottled drinks or just for ice.

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Dining Room

This is a photograph of my own dining room. Everything in my home has either been built, or restored by me.

Friday, November 13, 2009

hepplewhite cabinet

This cabinet was designed to serve as a bar that could hold bottles, and glasses. Its primary wood is mahogany with poplar secondary woods and is veneered in quarter sawn mahogany veneer, and contrasting satinwood. Its apron is a design that is as delicate and beautiful as any I have ever seen. The upper shelf is held up by antique brass supports and has a mirrored back.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Cherry Stand

This small piece is the classic design for a side table. It is made of solid cherry that was milled in Natchez and has antique pine secondary wood. Though not visable in this photograph, the top has a particularly beautiful figured grain.

two drawer writing table

This writing desk was built around three period turned legs. The fourth had to be turned to match the period legs and reproduction casters were added. The drawers are banded in holly and are assembled using hand cut dovetails. The entire piece is mahogany with antique yellow pine for secondary woods. The inset leather top has a double row band of gold around its perimeter.

Mahogany and parcel guilt mirror frame

Friday, August 7, 2009

Chippendale shadow box

This shadow box was built for a local customer to house a sword that is a family heirloom. Its design is inspired by mirrors of the chipendale period and it is lined in felt the color of many Confederate uniforms. The face of the shadow box is hinged and has a latch on one side to allow access to the interior.

Cherry Corner Cabinet

Designed to fit this spacific wall, this corner cabinet is typical of early Natchez design. Each of the top doors is divided by eight panes of antique glass. The bottom section is divided by a single shelf and it is being used to store silver, the interior is lined with pacific cloth to assist in tarnish resistance.

Mahogany China Press

Built to be a top of the line dining room piece, this china press is second to none in my portfolio. Mahogany with mahogany veneer and poplar secondary woods, this piece has glass doors with a gothic influence and antique glass panes. the drawers are veneered in bookmatched crotch mahogany and cross banded in quarter sawn mahogany veneer. The cornice has five tablets that are also veneered in crotch veneer and each is also crossbanded in quarter sawn wood. The shelves are adjustable and each drawer is lined in pacific cloth and divided for silver storage.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Miniature Bookcase

This is a miniature bookcase built for a local client who collects miniature books. Its dimensions are 27" tall, 17" wide and 3.75" deep. Primary wood is mahogany with secondary wood of antique pine. It is finished with shellac and wax and is fitted with antique glass. Its proportions are spot on.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Mahogany Wash Stand

This bed side table is built using mahogany, mahogany veneer, mahogany flame veneer and antique heart pine. With its lower shelf, it is designed to resemble a period wash stand.

chippendale mixing table

This Chippendale mixing table has classic beautiful lines. It is made of solid mahogany and has a white marble top. It is complemented with a hand rubbed shellac finish.


This cherry and mahogany huntboard was inspired by a period cypress piece that was built in Amite County, Mississippi. The original was much less refined, but had this same interesting arched shelf below the drawers. When I designed this one I used bookmatched mahogany veneer on the drawer fronts and I bookmatched veneer on the arch below as well. The carcass is of southern cherry and the top is Mahogany. All Secondary woods are antique yellow pine.

Empire Inspired Bed

This headboard was inspired by the clean lines of the American Empire style. Its elegant design is complemented with the use of book matched flame mahogany veneer in the panels and hand rubbed shellac finish.

Coffee Table

This simple coffee table was designed to resemble a short porch bench. It is made of antique yellow pine floor boards, antique cypress clap boards, and is fastened using antique square nails.

Pencil Post Bed

This classic pencil post bed is of solid mahogany. The posts are nearly four inches square and seven and a half feet tall. The tapered posts are chamfered, and each chamfer ends in a carved lambs tongue.

mechanical tressle table

This table was designed for a narrow space that is used as a breakfast room. When not in use, or being used by a small number of people, the leaves are folded on top of the table, but when more people will be sitting at the table, the leaves open and are supported by lopers that are hidden within the structure of the base. It is built of solid antique pine.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Leather covered stool

This stool is one of th first things I built. It is designed around four antique feet of poplar. the wooden banding at the bottom is antique cherry and it is upholstered in charcoal colored leather with brass nails. It has a hinged lid and a well inside for storage. The bottom of the box is made of cedar.

Hepplewhite bed

This Hepplewhite bed is designed around the two antique foot posts which are turned and reeded with acanthus leaf carvings at the top of the posts just below the candle. The headboard has a melon shape and the head posts are square tapers. The rails are all mahogany and are double bolted and are bracketed.

cypress wardrobe

This is a cypress wardrobe built to house kitchen supplies. It was designed around a pair of antique cypress doors. The carcass, base and cornice are all built from antiuqe cypress that was milled to look as close to the doors as possible. It was then all dyed and shellaced to match.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Cherry bookcase

This is a scaled down replica of a cherry bookcase that is found in the collection at Melrose, the home owned by the National Park service here in Natchez. Oral tradition holds that it originally came from Concord, a late 18th century home that burned in about 1900. It is built with primary wood of cherry and secondary wood of antique cypress. It sits on delicately turned legs and has hand dovetailed drawers.

Small Sheraton Server

This Mahogany server was designed to fit a spacific space between the two windows seen in this picture. It has delicately turned and reeded legs with a drawer front and doors that have been cross banded in mahogany and veneered in an oposing wood of Avadire. The secondary wood is antique yellow pine.