Dressing Table Restoration, Part 3, Corners

Front corner

With the modern legs removed, the tenons of the front rail and sides are revealed. There are four separate tenons on the side board, the bottom tenon flush with the bottom of the side and the top tenon (the top tenon is cropped out of this photo) begins a half an inch below the top. There is no tongue between the three tenons as often seen in the joining of table tops or desk falls to end cleats. A groove for a tongue connecting the tenons would have to be plowed in the cabriole leg to accommodate the tongue. This could have been accomplished though the groove would have been visible behind or under the knee return. This view inside the leg to side joint is a rare one as it is difficult to make an x-radiograph at the corner of an object and obtain a clear view. As the legs have inset corner columns, the tenons do not meet with a miter at the corner as they might in a case without columns. To the left of the center tenon of the side in the above image you can make out one of the dadoes in the backboard that receive the vertical drawer dividers. The dividers were also secured with nails through the back.

New front leg

This is one of my new legs being test fit to the case. The mortises were cut and wood was removed from the corner to accept the columns before the lower cabriole section of the legs were shaped. The columns were then made as the originals, in three sections, a turned capital, a turned base, and a center section with flutes. Contrary to how a number of modern makers describe and make this type of column, only the capitals and bases were turned, the tall center section was treated as a moulding and was shaped with a round plain before being fluted. If you have a chance to examine a Philadelphia high chest having corners without flutes – there are a few – you will be able to feel the facets left by the round plane. Although often described today and in the period as “quarter” columns, the corner columns of 18th century case work in the British tradition were not truly quarters but rather slightly more than a fifth of a circle.

Corner column capital

Clock case
Made in Philadelphia c. 1770
Corner column capital

Corner captial base

Clock case
Made in Philadelphia c. 1770
Corner column base

One thought on “Dressing Table Restoration, Part 3, Corners

  1. Pingback: Dressing Table Resurfaces | In Proportion to the Trouble

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