Chris Schwarz's Blog

Building the Gustav Stickley No. 802 Sideboard

This week I begin a long-awaited project: A Russian workbench. Nah, I’m just messing with you. Now that I have fully exorcised the bench-building demon, I can move onto other long-awaited projects, such as the Gustav Stickley No. 802 Sideboard.

This Harvey Ellis-designed sideboard has long been a source of fascination for me. I first saw one (or one very much like it) in the home of a photographer friend. His weekends consisted of driving around poor neighborhoods in rural South Carolina and looking for Arts & Crafts masterpieces on people’s porches.

You might not believe this, but he found quite a lot of them. He bought his Stickley sideboard for about $100 in 1990.

Now that furniture masterpieces like this cost a bit more, I’m going to build a version for myself. And, like every other woodworking editor drawing breath on the planet, I’m going to use the sexy new Festool Domino for the vast majority of the operations. The Domino will, I suspect, make several of the tricky operations in this project a snap, particularly joining the side panels and legs (no stopped grooves!) and joining the backsplash to the top (no screws or other wackiness). I am, of course, going to use hand-cut dovetails for the drawers. I have my limits when it comes to technology.

The plans for this sideboard come from Robert W. Lang’s landmark “Shop Drawings for Craftsman Furniture.” When I went through the plans with a fine comb last week, I was stumped by the way the drawers worked. The plans show the drawers using side-hung guides, and I remember this particular sideboard using a web frame.

So I went directly to the author of the book (he sits exactly 10 steps away from me), and he acknowledged that I could be right. So I’m reworking the guts a bit.

This project is going to be the first major project for my new Holtzapffel Workbench, so I’m going to be test-driving both the Domino and my own handiwork.

– Christopher Schwarz