Chris Schwarz's Blog

Furniture for the 19th-century Transformer

Campaign-style furniture goes by many names, such as “military furniture” and “traveling furniture.” But its most curious name is “patent furniture.”

It gets this name because many pieces fold up or transform into another form, and the designs were many times patented. The most famous example of patent furniture is the chair that converts to library steps. You’ll also find suitcase-looking boxes that become dining tables and chests of drawers that become dressing tables.

Today while poking around Tucker Payne Antiques in Charleston, S.C., I encountered a great fold-up desk and the fold-up shaving kit shown here. This I must build.

When at rest, it’s a low box with lots of the cool brass brackets that is perched upon four little bun feet. When you fold up the front you see a tray. Fold it up on its second set of hinges and you can see a bunch of little slots at the back – and you get access to the wide-open bottom compartment of the kit, which has a removable tray down there.

Gravity releases the hinged mirror, which folds forward and drops into the front tray. Awesome.

— Christopher Schwarz

Check out other campaign-style furniture I’ve written about here. Or if you want to see and build the campaign chest I made for our July issue, click here to subscribe.

7 thoughts on “Furniture for the 19th-century Transformer

  1. therealdanh

    Surely some of those intrepid 19th century English gents must have been woodworkers. Any chance of a campaign chest that transforms into a workbench?

  2. K Anderson

    Any chance of a measured drawing, at least in your book? Very cool but lots of details that would be hard to figure out if you are not seeing it in person. Thanks for all of the great pictures.

  3. therealbird

    And here I was just about to ask about details about that nifty shaving mirror that was on one of the pictures of one of your recent LA-posts. Thanks for this! My wife’s going to get one of these. Not for shaving, though.

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