Soffit begun

Trent;’s Pilgrim Century Furniture

I picked away at the upper case’s soffit a little today. It’s a hard thing to photograph on the existing cupboard without laying them on their backs. The cover of Bob Trent’s 1976 Pilgrim Century Furniture shows this cupboard. The book title runs across the cornice’s front rail. That little resulting triangular area just under that is the soffit. In effect, much of the cornice is a sort of hollow space about 4″ deep.

When dealing with these terms, I always think back to Jennie Alexander’s fascination with Cyril Harris’ Illustrated Dictionary of Historic Architecture. I’m sure my copy came from JA, who told me to keep it in the bathroom. I used to…

If you don’t have a copy, or there’s someone in the bathroom, here’s the page for “cornice”:

cornice from Harris

And an entry for soffit:


I started by drawboring the cornice joinery and temporarily pinning them with removable drawbore pins. And then making a template from matboard to notch around the pointed rear stile and a corner notch at the front stile. And it fits into grooves in the front & side rail.


I made the template in two parts, and marked where they overlapped. Then transferred that to a 3/8″ thick oak panel. Beveled on the side and front – but you have to keep track of what’s the top & bottom of that panel. The good side goes down, the beveled side is up in the cornice.

first soffit board

To get it in place, I had to knock the front section off the side rails’ tenons – then insert the soffit board and put the front rail & stiles back on.

fitting the soffit board

These boards get the same V-shaped tongue & groove that the floor boards and drawer bottoms get. I got the first 3 boards set, then ran out of light.

filling in

I probably won’t do the final installation until after the side panels’ decorations are attached. It’ll be easier to get at that stuff without the cornice in the way. This is what that looks like:

side panels upper case

I’ve been testing the arches lately. More of that to come.

(pt 27 Essex County cupboard project 2021/22)

2 thoughts on “Soffit begun

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