Finally put this project to bed…Shaker inspired nightstands.

A few years ago we repainted our bedroom.  This prompted my wife to want a new headboard for our bed.  The old headboard was dark cherry and just didn’t fit with the room anymore, so I made a new one. Once that was done she observed that now the nightstands didn’t really work (also dark cherry), so I set to work on a new pair.  As it happened, I had just inherited a healthy stock of maple from my father and was looking for a suitable project.  Given the overall aesthetic of our home, I thought that a shaker/19th century vernacular style would be a good place to start with the design.  I’ve learned the hard way to always draw plans before the first cut to give one a a sense of size and proportion.

Shaker inspired, but also pretty reminiscent of the 19th and early 20th century vernacular style I was accustomed to seeing as a kid in rural Pennsylvania.

I started dimensioning the stock and gluing up the sides last winter–then spring hit and the carcasses sat in my shop while I went to work prepping the garden.

Lovely (and very hard) maple
Glue up

I thought that being on sabbatical last Spring would afford me all the time in the world to get these done–such was not the case!  As summer gave way to fall my wife became a little more impatient and openly speculated that perhaps it was time to start looking at furniture stores for a pair of nightstands.  OK, I got the message.  After Christmas I finally got back to it.

With the carcasses largely complete to this point it was a matter of assembling the face frames and building the drawers and inset panel doors.

While I am certainly not opposed to the use of power tools (never giving up my table saw or router!) I still enjoy prepping stock with hand tools–I can joint a board with this Stanley #8 pretty quickly. This piece of stock was resawn to make the book matched panels for the cabinet doors.
Drawer assembly–my dovetails are improving
Hand cut dovetail.  I cut them slightly proud then trim the ends of the pins and tails with a block plane before final sanding.
Final fitting of drawers, doors, and hardware

After drawer construction was complete (all hand cut dovetails) and the doors glued up I assembled both nightstands for a final fitting.  Originally I had intended to use Shaker style hardware–wooden knobs and latches.  My wife requested modern hardware in something like a brushed nickel finish.  Our compromise was antique salvage hardware from the 1920s or so: glass pulls for the drawers and steel Hoosier cabinet latches.  I like the look.  After fitting I removed all of the hardware, gave everything a final sanding to #220, and applied three coats of Tried & True Danish Oil burnishing with #0000 steel wool between coats.

I love this stuff

I’m pretty happy with how this project turned out.


Plenty of room for bed time reading

While I was at it I thought a “new” clock was a good idea as well.  I have and old Telechron given to me by a colleague that I love, but the alarm was always pretty temperamental.  So, I found another Telechron (circa 1940s) in need of a little TLC–it needed a new cord, some lubrication, and the case looked like it had been dropped down the stairs.

Cleaned, lubricated, new cord and the finish restored this vintage Telechron goes well with the maple nightstand.

Done and done.  Next project (after resharpening all of my chisels and plane irons that got beat up on the hard maple) is a reproduction of an 18th century sea chest.

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