the cupboard is gone, but it’s still on my mind

Here’s a look at the finished cupboard that took up much of the blog this past year. We had to haul it out of here to get far enough away to photograph it. Then off it went to the client’s home.

PF cupboard, 2021/2022

A detail view – the original has some floral bits in the middle & corners of the door. Done in brass maybe? I doubted they were from the period – so substituted the turned “button” for the middle. Maybe an incised date could have been there, who knows? Some of the related examples are dated. But I didn’t want to carve “2022” – too many curves.

detail of the upper case

A reader sent me a photo he took at the Henry Ford Museum – of a cupboard described as being part of the group I was studying. But it ain’t so – whoever made this one had seen some of the originals – or photos of them. Deep side rails at the top of the lower case, for instance. The overhang there is patterned after one of the cupboards at Winterthur. But the pillars are wrong – too plain. Most of the moldings are wrong – that heavy one around the bottom of the upper drawer section for instance. And the base molding. Drawers are dreadfully plain. Turned pendants under that overhang look like nothing else from this group. The door is framed opposite the way these guys did them. Here the stiles are tenoned into the rails – the 17th century ones the rails tenon into the stiles.

Henry Ford Museum cupboard

There were lots of these cupboards made in the 19th century. Some just “colonial revival” but others made to be passed off as “real” i.e. period pieces. I worked with Bob Trent on an article about both the period ones & the 19th century ones we had studied – published in the Dublin Seminar’s 1998 Rural New England Furniture: People, Place & Production.

Here’s the Winterthur one, with the overhang. Dated 1680. Jennie Alexander used to call this one the “lunar lander.”

Winterthur cupboard

Mine’s got my name stamped in it –


and is pretty well documented. About to be more-so. I’m more than halfway through writing a book about making it, to be published by Lost Art Press of course. But still, some unscrupulous person might misrepresent it a generation or two from now…who knows?

22 thoughts on “the cupboard is gone, but it’s still on my mind

  1. Wha’s weird about the late 19C/early 20C fake cupboards is how bad they are. We know they looked at real ones!

  2. yes, but every generation subconsciously adds details that look right to them, which means the stylish forms from their own life, not from the original period. Harder to identify fakes when recently made, but they shout loudly once the current styling becomes stale. It takes a great effort to eliminate your own contemporary biases and tastes when making reproductions. Hard for the customers too….

  3. It’s still on my mind too. Just need to get to ACK and see if there is enough room in my house for one of these!

    Hope you had a good trip. Heather’s puppy❤️❤️❤️!!

    Talk to you soon.


    Sent from my iPad


  4. The exuberant turnings and trim set it apart from a lot of other styles, so I can’t help wondering how it looks in it’s final spot. Do you know if it was intended to sit as an exclamation point in a modern, minimalist decor or is it part of a family of similar pieces?

      • hard to imagine that piece blending in anywhere. it’s absolutely spectacular but certainly not a subtle thing, i would venture. been lovely to see all the progress and excited to read the new book when it launches! any chance of some pictures at some point of its final home so we can see its new living environment?

  5. Yay a new book can’t wait, I have learned so much from your last ones thanks I dig your writing style, then I like to hit the shop and try out what I learned. Keep up great work!!!! haha Lunar lander that JA was something thanks again!

  6. I am not well versed in period furniture, but the cabinet/s in the above pictures are beautiful. As for me I would not religate them to a backroom not to be seen.

  7. Did you hide a modern coin or something in one of the joints?

    You probably got at least 200$ for that piece.

    Sent from my iPhone

    Sent from my iPhone >

  8. Just amazing work! Love the stamp on it.

    On Thu, Apr 7, 2022 at 9:33 AM PETER FOLLANSBEE: JOINER’S NOTES wrote:

    > pfollansbee posted: ” Here’s a look at the finished cupboard that took up > much of the blog this past year. We had to haul it out of here to get far > enough away to photograph it. Then off it went to the client’s home. PF > cupboard, 2021/2022 A detail view – the original ” >

  9. This icee looks stunning in this final presentation. It baffles my mind knowing the raw material is not S4S lumber. Some day I’ll have to try my hand at joinery on material that’s not rectangular in cross section.

    I see not a flaw in any of the surfaces. Is this period correct or in reality was minor tear out tolerated. I suspect riven oak is a lot less susceptible to tear out than my favored walnut with it’s undulating and tangled grain. I’m pretty proficient with hand lanes and a cabinet scraper in getting “near flawless surfaces”. This has taken years to develop the skills and some mental adjustment to realize that factory perfection is out of my reach. I think it would help new woodworkers to know what our forefathers 400 years ago used as their benchmarks for quality.

  10. Thanks for sharing the process Peter, I watch every video, read every post and study every bird you photograph (I’m headed for a sharp tail viewing blind this morning). Would I have this piece in my house? No, it’s far too busy and embellished for my tastes, but the hand tool work you do is so fun to follow and learn from, you couldn’t have picked a better project to highlight your profession. Thanks Again.

  11. Hi Mr. Follansbee: I am coming to your” make a chair from a tree “course next week, and I was wondering if you had any suggested tool lists?

    Sent from my iPhone


  12. Well Peter, I’ve enjoyed the process you’ve documented of crafting this cupboard, particularly doing the work all by hand as was done in the 1680’ies. Having worked with wood many years, (now at 80 y.o.) I can appreciate the joy of the labor you’ve endured. I can only estimate that the work to create all of the applied adornments equals the work to fabricate the carcass, maybe more. Your process of working wood truly reflects the hard work those craftsmen accomplished back in those historic years and they accepted it as normal everyday crafting. Truly another masterpiece you can add to your accomplishments. Ahh, thanks for the invention of the electric motor. We modern day crafters don’t have a clue what hard work is all about.

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 )

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