Plymouth Colony joinery again

Here’s a continuation of a post from the other night, concerning Plymouth Colony joinery.

 Jennie Alexander wrote & asked why can’t the “lipped” tenon be draw-bored. Then we spoke on the phone & mapped out a way that it could be drawbored, but I still think it wasn’t…mainly based on the fact that it is always fastened with large, square pins, not the usual faceted octagonal pins seen in the drawbored joints.

Here’s versions of this molding/tenon from 2 different chests. This first one is a chest  I saw in the late 1990s, showing a gap between the stile and the connecting joints of the rails. To me , this indicates that there is no drawbore. (lousy slide, so I rendered it B&W to cut out distracting colors)

Plymouth Colony chest w 4 drawers


Here is one from the MFA, also shot years ago, showing a tighter connection, but I still don’t think it’s drawbored. It could be, however. First – bore the hole in the rail, BEYOND the integral tenon, insert it, & mark the location of the hole on the face of the stile. Then remove the rail, and bore the hole in the stile AWAY from the edge of the stile. The hole that engages the tenon still can’t be drawbored. Even so, if you drawbored the outer section of the rail, why then use the large, square pin? [Alexander & I have reams of paper detailing these sorts of mental exercises, as we tried over the years to discern what “they” did 350-400 years ago…]

lipped tenon, square pins


Last year’s apprentice, Bryan MacIntyre wrote & asked about the double hinges on the back of the Plymouth Colony chest I showed the other day…here is a closer detail. I assume one set of hinges came later, but I haven’t seen this chest in person, nor have I seen the interior. But I would never expect more than one set of hinges.  I have seen some that have 3 hinges, not 2. I always figure that the #3 is added. In this shot, you might be able to see the stopped chamfer on the rails also.

extra hinges


 I have notes from examaning about a dozen of these chests, and started to chart them by “index” features. This joiner/shop puts the flat face of the rear panels to the outside of the chest. Others put the flat face of the rear panels inside the chest. This also was coordinated with the degree of finish inside the chest. The guys who molded the inside framing members used the flat face of the rear panels inside the chest. Imagine someone scrutinizing your work habits that much 330 years later… 

 Here’s a detail of the front of the chest. It’s nice to have a chance to look this closely at period work; I don’t always get a chance to show this sort of object in detail. The applied turnings are standard for this group, as is the ogee molding with the fillet in the midst of it. The woods used are oak, pine, maple, cedar and sometimes some walnut for accent. Usually painted red & black too…surprise, surprise.

Plymouth Colony chest w drawers, front detail

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