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Dresser Design V: Variation on a theme

Since I am intentionally challenging myself with this project in an attempt to pick up as many skills as possible, I decided that I could also use the pre-construction phase to learn a bit about design styles and periods — something I know little about. My thinking is that I could use the research to influence the details of the piece. Remember, I modeled and altered this design from photos, so without a knowledge of style, I don’t know the direction the original designers were starting from or heading towards.

So, I started with the curved element and I added a couple new words to my vocabulary. It turns out this double-curve is called a serpentine curve. Had the curve been reversed, with a depression in the center rather than a bulge, it would be called an oxbow curve. In my research, I saw the terms used interchangeably from some sources, but most seemed to agree that this was the proper nomenclature. Sometimes the serpentine was called a reverse-oxbow and an oxbow was called a reverse-serpentine. So go impress all your friends with your linguistic flexibility.

The serpentine curve was fairly common to the Chippendale style. Now I was looking for a much cleaner look than much of the early Chippendale, which included ornate gothic trim or Chinese pagoda styling. So, it’s probably safer to say that my piece is chippendale-influenced or pseudo-chippendale. Many of the chippendale pieces that contained the serpentine front were a bit more subdued, though. So, I began checking details of these. One detail that reoccured was the angled corners with the wrapped ogee feet. So, I modeled this variation of a theme:

Dresser V

I’m still trying to decide whether I like it. But one consideration is that if I use this design to create, say, side tables, a chest, an armoire – whatever – I’m not sure the serpentine curve would work well as a design element on all of those pieces. The clipped corners might be a good element to use to unify the set.

Now you’d think that clipping the corners off of a piece would be an easy thing to do. It turns out you’re crazy. It’s hard. A good deal of the dresser had to be recreated from the ground up. Those feet were especially difficult.

Let me know what you think.

In the meantime, I’m putting together a laundry list of techniques and design details that I’m going to have to learn or work out just to get going on this. Laminating that double curve, cutting half-blind dovetails in curved drawers, creating ogee stock for feet, creating that curved trim and beadwork.

I’ll likely start with laminating the drawer fronts, since the shape of the piece will be dictated by those. That way if the drawers spring a bit after lamination, I can simply shape the dresser front around the new shape rather than trying to finesse a lamination to conform to the shape of an already-built face. I don’t know if I’m worrying about nothing, but I’m trying to consider all possibilities.

Let me know if you have any technique suggestions.

One Response to “Dresser Design V: Variation on a theme”

  1. [...] convincing to come along. I came away with a gorgeous slab of walnut that I might use as the top in my dresser project, along with a couple of pieces of maple, and a couple of boxes of heavy-duty drawer slides for a [...]

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