Greene and Greene style of woodworking is very special in the sense that, when you take a first glance at it, looks like most other furniture: Simple lines, squarish. It doesn’t yell out at you like earlier styles, such as Queen Ann with lots of carvings or Chippendale with its curves. But when you take a closer look at the details, it’s a whole new world. That was when I was blown away. The magic was really in the details. Simple inlays, cloud lifts, proud pegs, proud finger joints, stuff like that really made the difference.
After reading a few books, I decided to give it a go at designing and making a Greene and Greene inspired furniture. If you read my earlier post, I wrote that I started off furnishing my own flat with Ikea furniture. I decided to make a bookcase to fit under the Ikea table. It would sit at one end facing outwards. That would leave the back exposed, giving me a good reason to finish the back to the same high standard as the front.
I started out milling my lumber and joining two six inches wide board together. Then they go through the planner one more time. I used Kapur as I had a good supply on hand. It’s a tropical hardwood usually used for window still and door frames. They are strong but not as beautiful as say teak, and it comes with a rather economical price tag.
I used a table saw to cut the finger joints. Dado stacks aren’t common in Singapore. I used a sled with a stop at one inch to make two cuts, one on each side of the panel. I moved my stop another inch to cut two inches from the sides. I then slide my panel across the saw blade using my sled as a fence to clear the wood between the two cuts.
The exposed finger joints are then rounded by hand with a rasp, chisel and sandpaper. The edges were rounded using a block plane. One swipe at fourty five degrees and another two rounds off the corners. It was surprisingly fast.
Holes were then drilled into the fingers to take a screw and a wooded plug. The panels were joined with glue and screws. The screw holes were then covered with round wooden pegs. My feel is that it is a lot easier to make round holes than square ones and it doesn’t compromise the aesthetic value of the piece too much. And I certainly wanted something easy to do as this is my first Greene and Greene piece.
I had some problems cutting the rebate on the back. Because of the small edge, my router kept slipping and cutting into the sides which didn’t give me the clean edge that I wanted. I ship-slapped a back on.
My inlay was made from white oak on the base. The based was joined to the main shelf using pocket screws. The finish is wipe on varnish and two layers of wax.
After constructing the shelf, it looks too good to be placed under a cheap Ikea table. The two just didn’t go together. I gave them to my kids, aged 3 and 5 to place their books and jigsaw puzzles.
Do give me your comments. This is my first piece in G&G, so your comments would help me a great deal to improve. I’m now making a coffee table and a wall cabinet. I’ll write them when I finish. In my next blog, I’ll write on a chest of drawers for my tools. Thanks for reading!
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