Hand Tools

Subject:
Period Furniture Construction

Bill Tindall, E.Tn.
What you are missing is he is building a Period Reproduction, probably a dressing table. He is replicating a common design. You can't criticize what he is doing because he is doing what has to be done to replicate the design.

You can criticize the design and it has been for centuries. But if you want this piece of Period Furniture built as it was built, you live with the risk it will split. Most of the antiques have split.

And it is a risk, not a certainty. I have followed the size of North American test pieces in my home and I find that they do not change dimension anything close to what is predicted from the commonly available tables. The tables are a flawed data set to make predictions for KD hardwood in typical use conditions. They never were intended to make the kind of predictions furniture builders use then for. These data are an average with large confidence limits and an average change from fresh cut to bone dry. Once dry wood never experiences as large dimension changes as it does in initial drying.

Antiques were built from wood of unknown drying history. They have experienced unknown use and storage conditions. It is likely that the wood used was not as stable as modern KD wood, and it is likely that pieces fell out of favor, stored in a damp barn then brought into a home in MN in the winter at 0.3% RH. My dining room table served as a shop bench in a barn for some decades before rescue. For the current generation, Lowe's piece will lead a pampered life. 100 years from now when it gets rescued from the barn it will crack.

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