cupboard project continued

In an earlier posting, I planed the pentagonal-cross-sectioned stiles for the cupboard restoration I am working on lately. These stiles are shaped thus so the tenons that join the rails & stiles will have 90-degree shoulders. This simplifies the tenons, but slightly complicates making the stiles, and mortising them. This is a period cupboard that I referred to for details for the restoration, showing these pentagonal stiles.


pentagonal stiles
pentagonal stiles












To facilitate mortising, I made a cradle to position the stiles’ front face plumb, thus the mortised surface parallel to the bench. That way the mortise chisel is held plumb as well. With a little shimming this cradle worked out for both orientations for these stiles. The notion for the cradle has a seventeenth-century precedent; Randle Holme illustrated what he called a “joiner’s saddle” that is in effect the same sort of thing. His description is thus:


“…used by both Joyners and Carpenters, and is termed a Joyners Saddle. It is an end of a Spar or Joyce cut into the side with an Indent or Beviled on each side, so that any square piece will lye steady in it with one of its edges up.”


mortising cradle or saddle
mortising cradle or saddle
chopping mortises in pentagonal stiles
chopping mortises in pentagonal stiles














At this stage, I am just test-assembling the front 2/3 of the carcase. This particular example will then be toe-nailed to a rectangular frame-and-panel to complete the upper case of the cupboard. Then there is an overhanging cornice, but that’s getting ahead of myself.


upper case test assembly part 2
upper case test assembly part 2





3 thoughts on “cupboard project continued

  1. Peter, thanks for documenting your progress on this cupboard. I have not seen the bottoms of many upper sections,but the ones I have seen have the mortise coming all the way through to the bottom of the stiles-no haunch. Is this standard construction for the stiles on pentagonal sections? I noticed in your assembled piece you left horns on the end of the stiles. When the horn gets cut flush, does that expose the mortise at the bottom of the stile? Thanks again for the nice blog.

  2. I think there is no standard in 17th century work, essentially. On the original I studied for this project, one mortise was exposed, the other not. The one I illustrated was patched here & there in some restoration in the early 20th century. Mine will have the mortise enclosed. Usually the rails are quite narrow, 2″ or less. that might account for the open mortises, although I think technically that makes things weaker. Might only last 300 years instead of 400.

  3. Peter/Steve,

    I would think you have this or have read it Peter, but a good book showing a large selection of 1700 furniture is under google books for download: Colonial Furniture in America By Luke Vincent Lockwood 1913

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