trying to see what isn’t there; the cupboard project

dentil course evidence for MFA project


It’s getting down to the tricky details now for this project; and the game is trying to see what isn’t there…or in this case, the few remaining dentil appliques from 1906 or so. This is the related cupboard to the one for the MFA. I have been trying to figure out the dentils; and they seem to be single “teeth” that are about 1″ square, and fasted with (glue, it’s assumed) and sprigs (headless iron nails). On my cupboard, these will be machine-made sprigs; you have to draw the line somewhere..

the test pieces I just did for the dentils are a little too chunky, I will make a section of molding a bit flatter than this, then chop it up. Then we have to figure out, with divine revelation, what color the dentils should be…or might be…same gig for the bottom applied molding here on the cornice. We will use the test results for the applied moldings on the cupboard base, so it’s got some rationale behind it.

mock=up for dentils


The other thing to see in the early 20th-century shot is the ghost of the oval applied turning just under the lower molding on this cornice rail…I glued up some stock to make these for tomorrow. While I am turning I will do the door pull at the same time.

It’s fun that it’s getting closer to being done, the cupboard looks a little funny to me now, but as I keep adding more junk it starts to make sense. Tomorrow some turning, some red paint and if there’s time, some squiggles.


5 thoughts on “trying to see what isn’t there; the cupboard project

  1. Peter, was the painting done by the joiner in the 17th century, or were there specialists for that. It doesn’t seem to be beyond his skill level, but I would guess you’d prefer to be woodworking (?).

  2. Dave
    we know so little about how work was divided (if it was) in a seventeenth-century shop. There is really no way of telling; unless we find some errant document that for some reason describes the activities of the shop. we get snippets of this in court records sometimes, usually when things go wrong.

    There is next-to-nothing written about finishes in particular; that’s why the scientific evidence, when available, is so valuable. What it looks like now & what it was finished with often don’t agree…

    The MFA cupboard project will be very startling for this reason. the original lower case is all dark & dingy; but displayed directly above it will be the repro upper case, with all its paint, carvings, and turnings looking bright & new. We’ll see what the reaction is.

  3. nice to see this long awaited project coming to completion…it is interesting to me to see the evolution of those massive 400 year old oak pieces with thick heavy carving patterns and bits and bobbles all over the place…transition and morph into the refined simplicity of the shaker cabinetry.

  4. Would the dentils have had a more complex profile? They seem however simple in the unrestored Met image. Your samples seem still slightly too wide as compared to the Mets. Where there any ghosts of them present on the Mets example? I suspect not give how heavily restored it was.

    Regarding paint, the half-columns in the unrestored photograph still retains its black pigment. The dentils appear unpainted to my eyes. Could they just have been left pain or perchance were they made of cedar?

  5. Erik
    thanks for chiming in. the dentils are a real challenge. the cupboard in New York now has a row of molding with dentils cut in it, thus hiding any “ghosting”. I am judging the size by the height; I too expected a nmore “developed” molding; but the picture seems pretty simple. I think for color we’re leaning towards just the tinted varnish. re: cedar – the applied moldings on the lower case at the MFA are pine, I think. so that’s what I used for the upper case.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s