This is what I’m building (click the picture to enlarge): This is a joinery plan. It defines what joints go where. Period craftsmen would not have drawn such a thing. You’ll see details of each piece in coming articles.
This is the design. Pattern books like Chippendale’s “Director…” were undimensioned versions of this. These drawings really define the lower case:
This defines the upper case:
I think its important to mention, though it may sound imodest, that these drawings are unprecedented. For not only do they define the entire piece parametrically, the choice of each dimension reveals the order in which the pieces were cut, what was slaved from what, and which dimensions were determined with dividers. Though spartan looking, these simple designs reveal more useful information than any set of engineering drawings ever could. They are a record of what I believe to be an 18th c layout process.
You can immediately see that the variable h in the drawings of the lower case is different from the h of the upper case. The lower case would have been built first. h for the upper case would have come from a story stick and simply transferred to a board without further measurement or attribution (i.e. once established, its parent is irrelevant).
Likewise, I could have expressed w in terms of the total height (i.e. 1/2), but I didn’t because that dimension had already been set by the construction of the lower case.
I just don’t have page space (or time) to discuss this in Popular Woodworking. So I’m hoping you can pour over this and see something more than just rough proportions. I think a web page of these should be published. I talked to the sapfm about this 5 or more years ago and they blew me off. One would think a few folks could put their experienced heads together and produce 20 or so of these for common pieces. My Feb 07 article would make an excellent starting place.