Arts & Crafts Buffet


Recipe for successful design: Steal your ideas from the best.
By Robert W. Lang
Pages: 26-33

From the October 2010 issue # 185
Buy this issue now

I designed this buffet cabinet a couple years ago for a weekend seminar on Arts & Crafts joinery. After the class I added a 3-D model to the Popular Woodworking Magazine online SketchUp collection. It was an easy way to provide detailed plans for those in attendance. As time passed, the model rose to the top of the collection, based on popularity.

My goal in designing it was to combine several classic elements from the early 20th century, without building a reproduction of any one piece in particular. I was looking to design a piece with a contemporary feel, but that was grounded in traditional Arts & Crafts period elements. Apparently I swiped the right details from the right sources to make a successful piece.

The wide overhanging top with breadboard ends, the fi nger-jointed drawer and the sculpted handles were all borrowed from the designs of Charles and Henry Greene. The proportions of the door stiles and rails were lifted right from the Gustav Stickley stylebook, and the double-tapered legs are a Harvey Ellis element turned upside down.

Equally important are the overall proportions and the rounded edges that ease the transitions where there is a change of direction or a change in plane. The light color of the soft maple keeps the cabinet from looking too formal or too masculine. Absent are the elements often seen in new pieces based on old designs. Corbels and spindles were banished to the land of overused and misapplied design features.

Video: Watch Bob’s table saw techniques for cutting the drawer finger joints.
Plan: Download a free 3-D model of this project in SketchUp format.
Web site: Bob has written several books about Art & Craft furniture; they’re all available from his web site.
Blog: Read “Peart’s Punches for Perfect Square Holes.”
In our store: “Greene & Greene Furniture: Poems of Wood of Light.”


From the October 2010 issue # 185
Buy this issue now