Unique and Interesting

This tall dresser was commissioned by a family in Somerville, MA, that is used to having unique and interesting furniture. Their house is filled with pieces that each have a story behind them; however, this was the first custom designed piece. They were looking for more storage than their current dresser offered and wanted it to be made from the same wood as their black walnut bed. In the search for wood, I was lucky to be at a lumber yard the morning a pile of black walnut came in from a church in Williamstown, MA. The church was built around 1870 and the wood was from its pews. I had never seen walnut that looked like this: The colors had a richness that we no longer see in the kiln-dried, steamed walnut available today. There were also several 18" wide pieces. This allowed the doors on the top carcass to be made from one piece of sawn veneer.  The overall design is a relatively simple form that shows off the handwork in the construction. The top and bottom carcass are constructed with hand-cut dovetails. The original base I designed obscured the hand-cut dovetails; I decided to bring the legs in from the edges on both of the carcasses. Other detail elements are hand-carved door handles and drawer pulls. The curves of the door handles are carried through in the bases.  The panels on the back are constructed from the handrail on the top of the pews; you can see holes from the screws of the attached bible shelf as plugs inside the dresser. The dresser is finished with a rubbed varnish.

This piece was featured in the Fine Woodworking’s Reader’s Gallery, Issue #263 Sept/Oct 2017.

Click here to go to the gallery.