The William & Mary Style


This period ushered in a radical shift in furniture design and construction.
By Charles Bender
Pages: 46-49

From the April 2010 issue #182
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If you ask most people what they know about period furniture, many will shrug and say something like, “Oh, you mean that Colonial-style furniture.” Most woodworkers tend to gravitate to Queen Anne, Chippendale, Federal or Arts & Crafts pieces. Sure, those names represent different styles of furniture but, until you really begin to study them, you may not realize that the periods flow from one into another. As you study the different styles you begin to see how each period builds on the one before it. And as you move backward through the periods, studying the design and construction changes that took place, you’ll eventually come to the one style that kicked off a furniture revolution: William & Mary.

Prior to the William & Mary period (in this country, at least) most furniture was boxy, massive and simply decorated. Chests were simply boxes that sat on the ground or were on stump legs that were an integral part of the construction of the box. Frame-and-panel construction was rampant in this early form of furniture. Decoration was in the form of applied bulbous half turnings or shallow relief carving. To top it all off, much of the furniture was made from that most plentiful of woods, oak.

Online Extras

* Read an article about secret drawers.

* Watch the free online video, Federal-style Cuffbanding.

* Discover period project plans in the book, “Building 18th-century American Furniture.”


From the April 2010 issue #182
Buy this issue now